UN General Assembly President visits Turkey

01 Jun 2008

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The President of the UN General Assembly Srgjan Kerim called for world leaders to give their full support to the UN high-level meeting that will convene to discuss the global food crisis on 3-5 June 2008 in Rome.

New Horizons - Kerim, during his official visit to Turkey between 7-10 May, held contacts with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. The main issues the leaders took up were the global food crisis, the recent tragedy in Myanmar and the UN reform.

During his contacts with Prime Minister Erdoğan, Kerim stated that the global food crisis “is an issue where articulate and well coordinated action on the part of all Member States of the United Nations is necessary” and added that he expected the international Task Force set up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to make an immediate assessment on the scope and nature of the crisis as well as an evaluation on what should be done.

Regarding the deadly cyclone that left an estimated 1.5 million people in Myanmar in need of humanitarian aid, Kerim reiterated the urgency for the authorities in Myanmar to fully cooperate with the international community and in particular with the UN.

The UN Reform was another issue Kerim discussed with Prime Minister Erdoğan as well as President Gül. The leaders agreed that the UN Reform needs to be a more profound reform.

During his contacts with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, the two officials focused on the activities of Turkey in support of the UN peacekeeping activities and the Alliance of Civilizations Initiative. Ali Babacan reminded that Turkey will be hosting the Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations in April 2009.

Kerim also drew attention to the potential Turkey has in playing a unique role in development issues as a middle-income country with a clear interest in the affairs of the least developed countries.

During his stay in Ankara, Kerim also delivered a lecture at Bilkent University on the role of the UN in the era of globalization. Kerim also highlighted the need to change the way international organizations operate in a new global environment and pointed out that speed was more important than size in crisis situations. Kerim added that the traditional balance of power had to give way to a new understanding based on an equilibrium of shared interests. Kerim stressed that in this regard, the UN provided the most suitable framework due its broad global agenda, universal membership and a unique convening power.

On the other hand, the International Task Force which consists of the heads of key UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as of experts from around the globe held their first meeting on the global food crisis in mid May 2008 in New York. The Task Force that is working on a comprehensive plan to tackle the rise in food prices will present its action plan at a food summit in Rome in June 2008. The Task Force has also established a new website to provide updates on its activities. (please click here to view the website). The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on the other hand also held a special session on the food crisis in late May.