United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by Madam Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, late in the afternoon of Wednesday, 30 May, after an overnight flight from New York.
That evening he was briefed by the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkey, Shahid Najam.
On Thursday, 31 May 2012, the Secretary-General took part in the Alliance of Civilizations Partners Forum in Istanbul. In remarks to the meeting, he said the Alliance was founded to advance the most noble of common ideals — greater understanding among peoples and nations, and a deeper embrace of global diversity.
The Secretary-General said on tolerance and cooperation the Alliance has emerged as an increasingly important voice on the global stage. The challenge before us now is how to enable the Alliance of Civilizations to play an even more constructive role on the issues that confront us.
On Syria, he said the United Nations Supervision Mission is there to help bring about a ceasefire. The observers are the eyes and ears of the international community, there to record violations and to speak out so that the perpetrators of crimes may be held to account.
The Secretary-General said the massacre of civilians of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war — a civil war from which the country would never recover. He said a united international community demands that the Syrian Government act on its responsibilities to its people. (See Press Release SG/SM/14324.)
The Secretary-General had a range of separate bilateral meetings on the margins of the Alliance of Civilizations Partners Forum in Istanbul that day.
In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he discussed the Alliance of Civilizations, Syria, Somalia and Cyprus. He thanked the Prime Minister for hosting the Partners Forum and the International Somalia Conference, and for Turkey's role in and support for the work of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General met Jean Ping, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. They discussed developments in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.
In another meeting, with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, the Secretary-General discussed regional developments.
The Secretary-General also met Gonzalo de Benito, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Spain. The Secretary-General thanked Spain for its continued support for the Alliance of Civilizations and the work of the United Nations. They also discussed the Western Sahara.
The Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, later visited the United Nations Industrial Development Organization's International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technology to highlight the importance of sustainable energy and next month's Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development.
The next day, Friday, 1 June, the Secretary-General co-chaired the Istanbul II Conference on Somalia. In his remarks to the Conference, he said his message was for the world to commit to long-term assistance for Somalia. He said the United Nations would lead in helping achieve peace, stability and prosperity.
The Secretary-General said Somalis had moved to complete the Roadmap for Ending the Transition and that Somali leaders had confirmed that the transition will end on 20 August. The end of that transition marks the beginning of a new phase of inclusive dialogue where all Somali voices should be heard. The Secretary-General emphasized the importance of applying the decision to include 30 percent of women in institutions.
Among the challenges Somalia faces, the Secretary-General highlighted attacks on journalists and the need to keep human rights at the centre of the political process. He urged donors to contribute to building the security sector and rule of law. He said that in the face of terrorism, piracy and drought, Somalia needs solidarity and a comprehensive investment plan. (See Press Release SG/SM/14326.)
Later, the Secretary-General delivered closing remarks at the Somalia conference. (See Press Release SG/SM/14327.) He then took part in a press conference with the President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu.
The Secretary-General had a wide range of separate bilateral meetings while in Istanbul for the Somalia Conference. He met Hailemariam Desalegn, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia. They discussed Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, and Eritrea. The Secretary-General thanked Ethiopia for its role in the recent Somalia meeting in Addis Ababa and the resumed talks between Sudan and South Sudan.
The Secretary-General's meeting with William Hague, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, focused on developments in Syria. The Secretary-General said he was concerned that the situation in Syria had deteriorated. They also discussed Somalia and Western Sahara.
In his meeting with the President of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, the Secretary-General thanked the President for contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He said the international community had a political and moral responsibility to help the Somali people, and that Djibouti had demonstrated its strong commitment.
The Secretary-General met the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, and thanked him for the great contribution and sacrifices of Burundi's troops in AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia).
In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Yemen, Mohamed Salem Mohamed Basendwah, the Secretary-General received an update on recent developments in the country and said the United Nations would continue to play a support role in the Yemen-led transition as needed.
The Secretary-General also spoke with the President of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He said Somalia would have the full support of the United Nations. He said international assistance should be predictable and long term. The Secretary-General also stressed the importance of ensuring at least 30 per cent of those appointed in all institutions should be women.
In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, the Secretary-General discussed Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and preparations for Kenya's next elections. He encouraged the coalition Government to work in a cohesive manner to ensure the elections were peaceful. He pledged continued United Nations support.
His meeting with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda, focused on Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The Secretary-General said he was encouraged by Uganda's recent arrest of an LRA leader.
On the morning of Saturday, 2 June, the Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, visited an archaeological dig site at Yenikapi in Istanbul. Later that morning, the Secretary-General, accompanied by Madam Ban, left Istanbulon a flight to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where they arrived that afternoon.