Spain to skip Alliance of Civilizations Forum
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
In this 2009 photo, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and High Commissioner for the Alliance Sampaio talks in Istanbul.Spain, the country co-chairing the “Alliance of Civilizations” initiative together with Turkey, will not be able to attend the alliance’s meeting at ministerial level to be held in Istanbul because it conflicts with a cabinet meeting to discuss measures to address the financial crisis in Spain, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay has said.
The first Partners Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, chaired by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is scheduled to take place in Istanbul on May 31 and June 1. The forum will bring together representatives from 70 countries and 15 intergovernmental organizations, including Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
However, Western countries’ participation in the forum, which places a particular emphasis on defusing tensions between the Western and Islamic worlds, so far seems rather low-profile. The highest-level Western participants planning to attend the meeting are the former president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, and Austrian Deputy Prime Minister Michael Spindelegger.
The Alliance of Civilizations is an initiative proposed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the 59th General Assembly of the U.N. in 2005. It was co-sponsored by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan. The initiative seeks to galvanize international action against extremism by forging international, intercultural and interreligious dialogue.