AT THE 25TH SPECIAL SESSION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was a great honor for my country
to host the Habitat II Conference five years ago in Istanbul.
It is my honor and privilege today to address this distinguished assembly on behalf of Turkey at this important occasion.
The Habitat Agenda adopted in Istanbul
offers us a sound guideline.
Thanks to it, we are witnessing many positive initiatives in the field of housing and greater efforts directed at sustainable development of human settlements.
Indeed, we are happy to see that the 'Spirit of Istanbul' is still with us.
It is in that spirit that civil society has been recognized as a key actor along with the very special role local authorities have to play in achieving the goals set by the Habitat Agenda.
We are pleased and gratified to see an active and increasing participation on the part of our Habitat partners and welcome their important contributions.
People from the government and municipalities, from the private sector and Non-Governmental organizations, have come together in nearly fifty provinces of Turkey to develop and put into practice this agenda, in recognition of the key concept of 'partnership.' We are preparing to the next stage of putting the 'governance' concept in place.
It is our hope that, before we reach 'Istanbul plus Ten', Turkey and many other countries would have undertaken the necessary legislative steps... Steps that would form the legal basis of enabling civil society to participate in decisions which affect their lives and environment.
The Turkish Constitution states that
every person has the right to live in a healthy environment. It is incumbent
upon the State therefore, to take the necessary measures and meet the housing
needs of its citizens.
There are no discriminations whatsoever among the citizens with regard to ownership and inheritance. Indeed, the existing legal framework saved us from stumbling into legal obstacles in implementing the Habitat Agenda.
Moreover, the level of development and capabilities enjoyed by Turkish producers enabled us to remove many bottlenecks faced in the past in the supply side of the equation.
However, besides these important advantages, I should remind you of the high rates of urbanization in Turkey. Thus, providing housing along with the necessary infra-structure and services, remained a top priority in implementing the Habitat Agenda. I am sure, this is a case we share with others having such high rates of urbanization.
Ensuring more access and providing affordable houses is another priority. Unfortunately, we had to follow these priorities against the background of major natural disasters. We had to build nearly fourty-two thousand prefabricated shelters and as many permanent ones. We are grateful for the solidarity shown by the international community, governments and Non-Governmental Organizations alike. This support contributed greatly to our timely relief work. Indeed, I cannot stress enough the importance of international networking as highlighted in the Habitat Agenda.
There is no doubt that in an increasingly inter?-pendent world, achieving the goal of `adequate shelter for all' is a noble aim. This also means that we have to render our cities with better infra-structure and with better social services. This is also required for attracting investments in this globalizing world. Moreover, we should not lose the richness of local culture in the process.
In building our habitat, we should be sensitive to diversity as we are to sustaining biological diversity.
In this respect, the dimension of regional and international cooperation is important. Similar problems should lead us all to more cooperation. This is another reason why we think that the decision of Habitat to establish a regional office in Istanbul is a very significant step. Turkey will be proud of hosting this regional office. We are looking forward to the finalization of the prepatory work.
Before I conclude, Mr. President, let me highlight the vital importance of robust political will in achieving the goals of the Habitat Agenda. The Government of Turkey is resolved to continue to take part and contribute to this long but rewarding process. After all, these goals represent nothing less than our common aim of achieving a brighter and secure future for mankind.