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Old 11-12-2006, 03:55 PM   #1
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Turks to work for ties with West

This is an article from the Turkish Daily News about Turkish efforts to reach out to the West in a spirit of friendship and understanding. Due to registration requirements I'm cutting and pasting the article here.

Istanbul hosts Alliance of Civilizations
Sunday, November 12, 2006
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The action plan of the UN-led Alliance of Civilizations initiative, aimed at bridging gaps between the West and the Islamic world, will be submitted to Annan at a ceremony on Monday


TDN Guest Writer

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero, co-sponsors of the U.N.-led Alliance of Civilizations initiative, will participate in a meeting of the initiative's international High Level Group in Istanbul on Monday to put the finishing touches on an action plan aimed at bridging gaps between the Islamic world and the West.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will also be present at the meeting in Istanbul, during which Erdoğan and Zapatero will submit the action plan to Annan at a ceremony. The two prime ministers are expected to meet with Annan once again in New York at the end of this year. The action plan contains recommendations and schemes to enhance and develop the alliance between the Arab and Western worlds. The international High-Level Group of the U.N.-led initiative put the finishing touches on the action plan during a meeting in Istanbul over the weekend.

The initiative, proposed by Zapatero at the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations in 2004 and co-sponsored by Erdoğan, aims to produce by the end of 2006 actionable, time-bound recommendations for U.N. member states to adopt.

Annan said the initiative is intended to respond to the need for a committed effort by the international community -- both at the institutional and civil society levels -- to bridge divides and overcome the prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization that potentially threaten world peace. The Alliance of Civilizations will aim to address emerging threats emanating from hostile perceptions that foment violence and to bring about cooperation via various efforts to heal such divisions.

The initiative responds to a broad consensus across nations, cultures and religions that all societies are interdependent, bound together in their development and security, and in their environmental, economic and financial well-being.

To guide this initiative, the U.N. secretary-general, in consultation with the co-sponsors and specialists in the field of inter-civilizational and intercultural relations, assembled in September 2005 a High-level Group consisting of 20 eminent figures drawn from policy making, academia, civil society, religious leadership, and the media and originating from all regions and civilizations.

The High-level Group is co-chaired by Federico Mayor, former director-general of UNESCO and president of the Madrid-based Culture of Peace Foundation, and Mehmet Aydın, Turkish state minister. The group also includes Sheikha Mozah, consort of the emir of the state of Qatar and chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Sciences and Community Development; Mohammad Khatami, former president of Iran; Moustapha Niasse, former prime minister of Senegal; Mr. Andre Azoulay, Nobel Peace Prize winner; Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and special advisor to the King of Morocco; Dr. Sarajaldeen Ismael, director of the Alexandria library in Egypt; and Hubert Vedrine, former French foreign minister.

Annan asked the High-level Group to strengthen mutual understanding, respect and shared values among different peoples, cultures and civilizations; to counter the influence of groups fomenting extremism and the exclusion of others who do not share their worldviews; to counter the threat to world peace and stability posed by extremism. He also asked to propose measures to reach out to the youth of the world, to instill values of moderation and cooperation, and to promote appreciation of diversity.

The Alliance of Civilizations was welcomed by the leaders of Europe and the Islamic World as a constructive and positive alternative to Huntington's Clash of Civilizations hypothesis.

In February 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a letter to Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos that the United States intends to collaborate with the proposal of the Alliance of Civilizations in the hope that the initiative would help to promote “democratic reforms, peace, and stability in the Near East.”

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa also praised the initiative and said, “It is a very important step; it is more positive to discuss about an alliance of civilizations than to be talking of clashes of civilizations.”

On the eve of the Euro-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona in November 2005, French President Jacques Chirac, referring to the Alliance of Civilizations, said, “I see here an urgent priority for our time.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged religious leaders meeting in Moscow to counter what he said efforts to pit Christians and Muslims against each other and warned that a potential clash of civilizations could bring disaster.

Erdoğan similarly said, “Together we are planting a seed for an Alliance of Civilizations to grow in our world, and this will help the seeds of hundreds of thousands of Alliances of Civilizations to flourish.”

During their three meetings before the one in Istanbul, the members of the High Level Group focused on cooperation between Occidental and Islamic countries. The most obvious aspect of education that must be considered is efforts that promote understanding and tolerance in place of misunderstanding and intolerance.

Alliance aims:

-- Viewing youth as an essential asset for developing a concrete plan of action to surmount the challenges to global and local stability, the alliance intends to consider the youth to be potential leaders who will be listened to and strengthened as they seek to engage in constructive action.

-- To embrace policy-makers, civil society leaders and advocates with the goal of identifying approaches that contribute to the successful integration of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe.

-- To use the media to foster mutual understanding and to lay the groundwork for collective action across diverse populations and cultures.

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Old 11-12-2006, 04:15 PM   #2
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sorry to say this, but mr. erdogan is a hypocrite. he rails against the west at home to garner political points, then he talks about 'alliance of civilizations', whatever that is. his government is full of religious minded dumbasses, too.

as much as i like the concept, i am not very hopeful about its prospects. the real test of this concept is the turkish accession to the EU, and considering the several potential debacles that surround that issue, i dont see this concept coming to life any time soon.

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Old 11-12-2006, 08:13 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm aware of your opinion of Mr. Erdogan. Interestingly enough, the guide who did my tour of Turkey liked him. It looks like he has a bit too much of an Islamicist orientation for some people in Turkey. Ataturk might not like what he would see in this government.
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