Thank you Mr. High Representative,
I align myself with the statement made by the European Union.
First of all, I warmly thank the High Representative Mr. Sampaio for organizing this meeting of the Group of Friends. I pay tribute to your exemplary commitment to the Alliance of Civilizations.
If we are all gathered here today is because we all believe The Alliance of Civilizations has a very important role to play. Its approach, which closely involves all components of our societies - governments, representatives of religions, associations, private sector, academia - and brings together diverse areas of expertise - political, economic, sociological, cultural - is indeed an important asset to build relationships to deepen the dialogue between peoples.
The Alliance of Civilizations at the same time should keep as its base the values and principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We expect it to defend and promote them everywhere it acts. At a time when aspirations for democracy and dignity are heard in several parts of the world and particularly in the context of the tremendous change we are witnessing in of the Arab world, this dimension of its work is essential.
The agenda it has set from the outset is more relevant than ever: promoting tolerance, peace culture and fundamental freedoms through concrete projects.
We would like also to commend the role of Qatar, which hosted the 4th Annual Forum last December. This session of the Forum was an opportunity to meet many stakeholders committed to intercultural dialogue and to reflect on how best to achieve the objectives of the Alliance.
Looking forward to the Istanbul meeting, with the launch of the Forum of the Alliance partners, will represent another important step. As several speakers before me have highlighted, it will be necessary for the Alliance to seek to ensure a solid financial base to ensure sustainability of its projects. At the same time in a context of constraint, it must also be an opportunity to identify priority actions, and seek to strengthen the coherence and the consistency of the actions of the Alliance, in conjunction with major international organizations and agencies, particularly within the United Nations. This meeting will therefore encourage us to engage in efforts to streamline our actions, to avoid duplication with the work of other organizations also working to strengthen intercultural dialogue.
We are looking forward to the next annual forum in February 2013 that Austria has generously agreed to host, and we will welcome in due time precisions on the proposed agenda and priorities for this very important meeting.
I thank you Mr. High Representative.