Alliance of Civilizations told to act - Summary|
Posted on : 2008-01-15 | Author : DPA
News Category : World
Madrid - The United Nations' Alliance of Civilizations project was
Tuesday advised to engage in concrete programmes instead of just
discussing inter-cultural dialogue at meetings and in documents. The
countries involved should "tenaciously" seek to apply "concrete
programmes," European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said
at the alliance's first annual forum, which began in Madrid.
The Alliance of Civilizations, which was launched by Spanish
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero after Islamist train
bombings killed 191 people in Madrid in 2004, seeks to break down
cultural prejudice and to increase understanding especially between
the West and the Muslim world.
The two-day forum brought nearly 400 people from more than 60
countries to the Spanish capital, including representatives of
governments, international organizations, civil society as well as
religious leaders, entrepreneurs and artists.
The guest list included the presidents of Senegal, Finland and
Slovenia and the prime ministers of Algeria and Malaysia.
"We do not need new documents, but they need to be applied,"
Solana said, pointing out that many of the alliance's ideas were
already contained in EU legislation. The countries involved
should not "just hold meetings, but the meetings need to serve to
solve problems," Solana insisted.
The Alliance of Civilizations will only succeed if given a
"concrete content," Zapatero said, calling on all countries to adopt
it as a "policy of state."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the urgent need for
inter-cultural dialogue to thwart the threat of extremist movements.
"Never in our lifetime has there been a more desperate need
for constructive and committed dialogue," Ban said, describing the
Alliance of Civilizations as a "unique" platform for that purpose.
It was easy to call for cultural bridges, Ban admitted, but it
was much more difficult to turn the words into deeds influencing how
people thought and acted.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos urged the
participants to engage to back US peace efforts in the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, complaining of a "lack of political will" to
create a Palestinian state.
Former Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio, the UN high
representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, said it was filling
a "vacuum" existing on the international level.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has joined
Zapatero in sponsoring the initiative, said Turkey's entry into the
EU would "prove that the Alliance of Civilizations is possible."
The forum included workshops aimed at sparking initiatives and
partnerships to promote inter-cultural understanding.
Jordan's Queen Noor announced the creation of a 100-million-dollar
fund to subsidize audiovisual productions promoting cultural
integration, while the Spanish government said it would support movies
and television series of that kind.
Recommendations issued by 20 eminent personalities in 2006 set
education, the media, youth and migration as the main areas to be
Zapatero's and Erdogan's initiative for an alliance of
civilizations was adopted by the UN in 2005.
The United States has backed the initiative, though it has
shown a limited interest, and only sent its ambassador to Spain to
the Madrid forum, according to Spanish sources.
The general action plan issued in 2006 is now to be followed
by national plans. Zapatero outlined Spain's 60-point national plan
and pledged to appoint a coordinator to implement it.
Original article: Earth Times
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