Peace at home, peace in the world

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Speech by H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey at the Meeting of the Group of Friends at the 7th Global Forum of UN Alliance of Civilizations, 26 April 2016, Baku

Mr. High Representative,
Dear friends,

It is great to be back in Baku, the city of the winds. Today the famous Baku breeze blows for our Alliance and lasting friendship.

Our deepest thanks go to our host Azerbaijan and dear Minister Garayev for their hospitality.

I cannot imagine a better place than Baku to talk about tolerance, harmony and mutual understanding.

For centuries, Azerbaijan and Baku have peacefully hosted different cultures and religions.

You can see mosques, churches and synagogues rising together all around this city.

Moreover, Azerbaijani people have never lost their belief in peaceful coexistence, even though the twenty percent of their country is under occupation.

Hopefully, the Nagorno Karabagh problem will be solved through peaceful means within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. And the entire Azerbaijan will once again be a land of freedom, peace and tolerance.

Dear friends,

We are very glad to see that the Group of Friends is expanding each year. Today, we are welcoming Kyrgyzstan.

Our growing number proves the strength of our ideals. And it gives us hope for the future.

I would like to thank all friends for their commitment to our Alliance. I also want to thank the UN Secretary General and the High Representative for their support and efforts.

In Baku, we need to answer one of the most important questions of our time: How can we strengthen pluralism, diversity and friendship at a time when we face serious challenges?

Social exclusion is triggering extremism and discrimination all over the World.

As President Erdoğan says, rising Islamophobia is a crime against humanity, just like anti-Semitism.

Xenophobia, sectarianism and anti-Christian sentiments are also undermining our core values that unite us.

The problem of irregular migration has brought new complications.

Terrorist organizations like DAESH, Al-Qaeda, PKK / PYD and DHKP/C are attempting to exploit this environment to their advantage. There is no difference between these organizations. They pose a common threat to all of us and our values.

In Western Europe, extreme right parties are gaining ground. The recent election results in some countries are alarming. In the US, some presidential candidates do not hesitate to spread hatred in their speeches.

We strongly reject the attempts to associate terrorism with Islam or any other religion.

Dear friends,

We cannot remain indifferent to these developments.

As responsible members of the international community, we need to stand firm behind the values of our Alliance more than ever.

Two weeks ago, we hosted the Islamic Summit in Istanbul. Our message was “unity and solidarity for justice and peace.” We called on all members to leave their differences behind, and work for a common future together.

Last week we opened the World Botanic EXPO in my hometown Antalya. We chose the theme “Children and Flowers” to bring children from different cultures together, just like the flowers of the world in different shapes and colors.

I believe we can better use the Alliance of Civilizations to raise awareness about current problems and promote diversity.

To do this, we must take into account the needs and realities at the local level as well.

That’s why, our commitment to national action plans and regional strategies is important.

The contributions of civil society and private sector are also important to achieve our goals.

We also need to intensify our cooperation with other international platforms. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where I had the honor to serve as the President, is a good example. At PACE, our efforts to raise awareness on issues like intercultural dialogue have produced significant outcomes.

As the co-chairs of this initiative, we believe in the possibility of harmony, mutual respect, dialogue and understanding. And I have full confidence in your continuing support to our Alliance.

I am aware of the time constraint. So I will stop here.

Thank you very much for your patience.