Turkey, UN plan ‘Retreat Center’ for mediation acts

Turkey, UN plan ‘Retreat Center’ for mediation acts

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey, UN plan ‘Retreat Center’ for mediation acts

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (L) and Turkish President Gül are seen in this file photo. Turkey will host soon a conference on mediation. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Ankara is working with the United Nations to establish a “Retreat Center” in Istanbul, to be used for the body’s mediation activities, where the parties will gather in order to resolve their disputes, as Turkey gears up to host second Istanbul Conference on Mediation on April 11-12.

Sources stressed that the center is aimed at maintaining a permanent venue where the representatives of parties will meet and negotiate to reach a solution, such as when Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot leaders met in Greentree in the U.S. in 2012.

The theme of the conference will be “Keys to Effective Mediation: Perspectives from Within” and will focus on the conflict areas and resolution efforts in Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Philippines, Middle East and Syria holding five panels.

Representatives of civil society, government officials who played a role in mediation efforts and officials from the United States, African Union, and the European Union will participate in the gathering.

The session concerning Afghanistan, to be moderated by Former Special Representative Francesc Vendrell, will examine the priorities and expectations from the reconciliation process, the issues hindering the progress of the peace process, how the armed opposition groups can be engaged on a political platform, and the role of regional neighbors. The participants and contributors will include Consultant Aziz Ahmet Khan, Masoom Stanekzai, head of the high Peace Council Secretariat of Afghanistan, and Basat Öztürk, Turkey’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

At the session dedicated to the “Middle East Peace Process,” former minister and member of the Palestinian negotiation team Samih Al-Abad, former minister of Israel Yossi Beilin, and expert Taha Özhan will discuss the process in light of the recent “Arab Spring” movement in the region. The speakers will tackle the questions of whether a two-state solution is still viable, how a momentum can be built for a two-state solution and what the alternatives to a two-state solution are.

Turkey and Finland launched the mediation initiative in 2010. It then became a UN initiative after a resolution was approved at the UN General Assembly in 2011.

The first conference was held on the theme of “Enhancing Peace through Mediation” in 2012.

The initiative, which was launched with a view to making the importance of mediation in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution more prominent, also aims at enhancing preventive the diplomacy and mediation capacities of the UN, regional organizations and countries.