MR. ERSIN ERCIN
DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
OF TURKEY TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE 60TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JOINT DEBATE UNDER AGENDA ITEMS 43 & 42
"CULTURE OF PEACE" AND
"GLOBAL AGENDA FOR DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS"
NEW YORK, 20 OCTOBER 2005
Turkey has aligned itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom on behalf of the European Union, under agenda item 43, entitled "Culture of Peace." Therefore, I wish to expound our views on the other item that we are discussing jointly today, entitled "Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations."
The nature and scope of challenges and threats to peace, security, welfare and progress of the world have certainly made the need for a genuine dialogue among different cultures and civilizations ever more essential today. The events of recent past have not only reinforced this notion, but also placed it high on the international agenda.
At this critical conjuncture, Turkey believes that a meaningful and operational dialogue within the international community is, indeed, imperative. We need to actively engage in resolving this question by demonstrating respect for and understanding of cultures and civilizations other than of our own. Tolerance, appreciation of cultural differences and religious beliefs, harmony and plurality should find their rightful place in the set of principles which shape our respective societies.
Our globalizing world increasingly compels our societies to become more interdependent. We are of the view that mutual understanding and dialogue across cultures and civilizations should be among the fundamental elements in these exchanges if we are to realize the ultimate goal of common peace and progress. In this framework, we very much appreciate the encouragement expressed by other delegations today to furthering cross-cultural and cross-civilizational undertakings towards this end. We were also pleased to observe that this significant issue was duly addressed in the UN Summit Outcome Document. Turkey's full support for this matter is evidenced by our co-sponsorship of the draft resolution by the same title.
For her part, Turkey consistently tries to build a culture of reconciliation and compromise in its own region and beyond. The OIC-EU Joint Forum which Turkey initiated in 2002 is a testament to our efforts, among many, to promoting tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures and religions.
Given her historical relations and cultural ties to a wide geography, Turkey benefits from a rich perspective it has cultivated through exchanges that facilitate tolerance, harmony and understanding. It is this intrinsic value that Turkey brings to the forefront which has made her a natural partner with Spain to advance the "Alliance of Civilizations." Originally proposed by the Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, at his address to the 59th Session of the UNGA, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was later invited to co-sponsor the initiative early this year. Turkey and Spain, since then, have been engaged in furthering the initiative together, which has also been endorsed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan.
The "Alliance of Civilizations" aims to address erherging threats emanating from hostile perceptions that foment violence across cultures and civilizations, and to bring about a committed effort globally, at the institutional and civil society levels, to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization within the world community. This environment, as we all have observed, has been exploited and exacerbated by extremists in all societies. Therefore, the initiative could be regarded as a coalition against this trend, as a movement to advance mutual respect for religious beliefs and traditions, and as a reaffirmation of mankind's increasing interdependence in all areas.
Following the co-sponsorship of Spain and Turkey, the Secretary-General officially launched the "Alliance of Civilizations" in past July, and then announced the establishment of the High Level Group in early September. The Group, which is comprised of eminent persons with various backgrounds from all around the globe to represent our geographical, cultural and religious diversity, will guide the initiative and produce a report with recommendations and a practical plan of action in late 2006. The Group will hold its first meeting in Spain next month, and will meet several times in different regions around the world in the course of one year. The last meeting of the Group will be held in Turkey in second part of 2006. A trust fund has been established within the United Nations to commence the work through the initiative. The UNSG has sent a letter to all Member States, calling for voluntary contributions to the fund. Spain and Turkey have already made major contributions to enable work to begin.
The Alliance of Civilizations is a genuine effort to prove that peoples of the world are not divided along cultural or religious lines, but bound by universal values which are derived from the foundation of mankind's collective wisdom, conscience and drive for progress. We encourage all Member States to respond to this call.
Thank you, Mr. President.