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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Notes to correspondents

Note to Correspondents on comments attributed to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey during the Fifth Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna

Geneva, 1 March 2013

The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General has the following to say with respect to the comments that have been attributed to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey during a session of the Fifth Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations:

Since its inception the Alliance of Civilizations has strived to promote mutual tolerance and respect and to speak out against extremism and bigotry of any sort, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is one of the co-sponsors of the Alliance and has been a consistently strong voice in support of its goals.

The Secretary-General heard the Prime Minister’s speech through an interpreter.  If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilizations is based.

The Secretary-General believes is it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.

Religious intolerance -- anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination -- are all too real in too many parts of the world.  We must stand united in confronting these life-and-death threats to the community fabric.