United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, on Sunday, 5 April, in advance of the Second Alliance of Civilizations Forum. He arrived from Paris, France, where he had gone primarily to chair a gathering of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). That evening, he held a working dinner in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.
The next day, on Monday, 6 April, the Secretary-General addressed the Second Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a joint Spanish-Turkish initiative under United Nations auspices that seeks to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures today and to recommend a practical programme of action to address them.
In his statement, the Secretary-General said that, all too often, the United Nations must deal with fires after they break out. But, through the Alliance of Civilizations, we can stamp out the sparks before they catch, he added. He also said the Alliance gives us a chance -- a chance to consign identity-based divisiveness to the past and to recognize our common humanity before it is too late. (See Press Release SG/SM/12173)
Also on Monday in Istanbul, the Secretary-General met with Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, with whom he discussed forthcoming donor conferences for Haiti and Somalia, food security and the Group of 20 (G-20). He also held bilaterals with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, as well as Slovenian President Danilo Türk, and he attended a luncheon hosted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
That afternoon, the Secretary-General left Istanbul and returned to New York, thus ending a trip that had taken him to six countries in 12 days.