5TH Global Forum- Vienna
28 February 2013
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
I have the honor to speak to you this afternoon to bring this Vienna Forum to a close. And I must say that this has been a remarkably productive and often emotionally moving event. It has served to place before me the full knowledge of the responsibility that comes with leadership of the Alliance of Civilizations.
Let me begin by paying tribute to our hosts from Austria. Their monumental effort has been noticed by all. The spectacular setting of the Hofburg Palace has been a marvel. And we have enjoyed the chance to attend events at other Vienna venues – the Volkstheatre and the City Hall – all have reminded us of the magnificence of this historic city. Thank you for all your work.
We were witness to a gathering of young people on Tuesday – a fantastic event that provided these very special youth an opportunity to have an extended conversation, share with one another their experiences and develop a set of conclusions. You have seen them here this afternoon. We are pleased and proud of them and equally proud of our chance to help empower them. They had the chance to meet with and question the Secretary General. Those who were there know well the amazing energy on display.
We celebrated the brave and passionate efforts of civil society activists on Tuesday evening. It was humbling to see how their commitment translated into action on the ground. Real achievements by real people.
And we were able to convene a series of informative and creative sessions that focused on religious freedom, media and migration, media pluralism and diversity in media content. The results of the breakout sessions for each of these topics will be available in the final report of the Forum.
And then we had the adoption by consensus of the Vienna Declaration. Never before have the members of the Group of Friends agreed on such a text. I offer my congratulations to all of the members of the Group of Friends and salute them for their diligence. Everyone did not agree with every element of the document but even those who voiced their concerns saw the immense value that could be attached to this Declaration as a consensus document of this Group. This is a genuine achievement for the Alliance of Civilizations.
This week has brought into focus for me the incredible work of civil society members, so many of whom are represented among you. The Alliance of Civilizations considers it a privilege to serve your interests, add to your efforts, and together build the bridges necessary to effectively promote our shared values of cultural diversity, tolerance, and mutual respect.
You can count on me and the staff of the Alliance to work tirelessly on behalf of our shared agenda. As an initiative of the Secretary General and a part of the UN system we will do our best to ensure your voices are heard.
Let me take this last opportunity to pay my respects to my predecessor, H.E. President Jorge Sampaio. He is the true father of this Alliance. He built it from nothing but an idea and today we see the fruit of his labor, the realization of his dreams. Please join me in a round of applause for him.
In closing let me say that our path ahead will not be easy. We will strive to use the tools at our disposal in the difficult settings around the world. We will not shy away from them. We will seek new tools, working through artists and sportsmen, to help spread our message of peace and coexistence. The path I refer to will not be smooth. It will have twists and turns but we will always work to move forward along that path. We will do that with all of you and we will do this together. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for your idealism. And I look forward to seeing you next year in Indonesia.