United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, at noon on Saturday, 7 May.
He earlier visited the Dolmabahçe Palace and later the Headquarters of the Alliance of Civilizations, before attending a dinner hosted by the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş.
On Sunday, the Secretary-General addressed the Parliamentarians’ Forum at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. (See Press Release SG/SM/13552)
He also met that morning with Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, and with Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO). He then addressed the inauguration of the Civil Society at the Conference on the Least Developed Countries. See Press Release SG/SM/13551.
In the afternoon, he addressed the Leaders’ Summit at the Conference. (See Press Release SG/SM/13560) He also chaired a meeting of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group.
In the course of that day, the Secretary-General met with Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; Jhala Nath Khanal, Prime Minister of Nepal; José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; and Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister of Turkey, who later hosted dinner. He also had a tête-à-tête meeting with Ali Ahmed Karti, the Foreign Minister of Sudan.
The Secretary-General opened the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries at Istanbul’s Lutfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday, 9 May. He said that there are 48 least developed countries that are home to nearly 900 million people, or 12 per cent of the global population, half of whom live on less than $2 a day. They are the most vulnerable societies, the least secure and they have produced some 60 per cent of the world’s refugees in recent decades. This cannot continue, the Secretary-General said. (See Press Release SG/SM/13554)
Instead of seeing least developed countries as poor and weak, he said, let us recognize these 48 countries as vast reservoirs of untapped potential. Investing in least developed countries is an opportunity for all, and success for the least developed countries is ultimately success for all.
The Secretary-General also spoke to the press, saying that the Istanbul Conference is the first major development conference of the United Nations of this decade. It is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to mobilize global solidarity and action for the poorest and weakest members of our global family. We must not waste it, said the Secretary-General. “We must seize this momentum.”
On the margins of the Conference the Secretary-General met with Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran; Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Nikoloz Gilauri, Prime Minister of Georgia; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; Boni Yayi, President of Benin; Markos Kyprianou, Foreign Minister of Cyprus; Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; and Staffan de Mistura, his Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). He also had a tête-à-tête meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey.
Two other speaking engagements for the Secretary-General that day were at a high-level meeting on investment and partnership, and at a special event on the United Nations Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity. (See Press Releases SG/SM/13555 and SG/SM/13556)
The Secretary-General and his delegation departed Turkey early on Tuesday morning, 10 May, for Geneva, Switzerland.