Alliance of Civilizations Ministerial Meeting

Alliance of Civilizations Ministerial Meeting

Alliance of Civilizations Ministerial Meeting

Speech of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia Samuel Žbogar

23 September 2011

I would like to thank H.E., the High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Mr Jorge Sampaio for organizing this timely meeting of the Alliance of Civilizations Group of Friends.

I believe that the agenda before us is a highly relevant one, with a focus on the key challenges and important new initiatives for the next two years.

Slovenia welcomes the fact that the Alliance of Civilizations has been gaining momentum within the international community, as demonstrated by its increasing membership.

We see the Alliance as an important part of the UN's efforts to find appropriate ways of preventing extremism from being an incentive to conflicts in the contemporary world. Slovenia believes that this important initiative has the potential to achieve even more in the future. I would like thank the High Representative for the fourth Annual Report for the AoC, which presents a good overview of the activities of the Alliance from July 2010 to July 2011.

I would also like to commend you on the Third Implementation Plan (2011–2013), which sets forth our future priorities, as well as the main challenges ahead of us. While we must promote interculturalism within each of our societies in order to resist prejudice and extremism, we should also embrace the global discussion on the sensitive aspects of intercultural relations, which contributes to effectively establishing the awareness that we all face very similar problems in every corner of our planet, and that we can and must assist each other in finding solutions to these problems.

We should first compare notes and agree upon our common efforts and projects at the global level, and then we should implement these projects at the regional and local levels by re-examining our societies and investing in the creation of an open and complex cultural environment, where human rights, democratic values and freedom of religion are the norm, and where discrimination has become a 'thing of the past'. We feel that using the role of the AoC as a soft-power tool of preventive diplomacy is especially important for the future.

In light of this, developing regional strategies for the AoC is also of crucial importance. Slovenia has actively participated in developing the regional strategies for South-East Europe and the Euro-Mediterranean. In this regard, we are particularly pleased that the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), which also signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the AoC, is working towards contributing to the dialogue among youth and scholars in the Mediterranean basin. We expect EMUNI to participate with the Alliance especially in the framework of the Action Plan (2011–2015), which will implement the Regional Strategy on Intercultural Dialogue and Cooperation in the Mediterranean.

We look forward to the 4th Forum of the AoC to be held in Doha, Qatar this December, and we are confident that it will further reinforce the global scope and visibility of the Alliance of Civilizations. Moreover, we welcome the new proposed framework and the application of the MDG paradigm to the fields of education, youth, media and migration for the achievement of tangible results in a set timeframe. Slovenia is ready to actively participate in the process of delineating a concrete set of goals to be endorsed by the Doha Declaration.

To ensure the continued success of the Alliance, the financial aspect should not be neglected. It is crucial to ensure appropriate funding for the initiative if we are to follow through on projects. Accordingly, we support the proposal by the secretariat for establishing a replenishment mechanism, thus ensuring the sustainability of the Alliance.

Let me conclude by reiterating the strong commitment of the Republic of Slovenia to the goals and efforts of the Alliance of Civilizations. It is with great dedication and zeal that we will continue to support the work of the initiative, as well as actively participate in the work of High Representative Sampaio.