September 28, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 995

U.N. Secretary-General Annan's ‘Alliance of Civilizations’ Project: Reconciliation Initiative – or Attempt to Establish New Int'l Body – A ‘World Parliament?’

September 28, 2005
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 995

One Initiative – Two Visions

On July 14, 2005, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a statement announcing the launch of the " Alliance of Civilizations" initiative, which is being co-sponsored by the prime ministers of Spain and Turkey. The project is designed to "advance mutual respect for religious beliefs and traditions and to reaffirm humankind's interdependence in all areas."

Turkey's major media organs, which gave extensive coverage to the initiative, presented an additional vision – a vision of the establishment of a second international body to parallel the U.N., to be called "The World Parliament." It is noteworthy that the governments involved in the preliminary stage are either critical or hostile to U.S. policy.

The following report is based on Turkish media reactions to the initiative:
The Declared Vision: Reconciliation of Civilizations

Many Turkish media sources reported on the project as follows:

The "Alliance of Civilizations" project was brought up by [Spanish] Prime Minister Zapatero during his discussions with Secretary-General Annan at last year's U.N. summit. Annan insisted that a Muslim country should co-sponsor the initiative together with Spain. This offer was then taken to Turkey by PM Zapatero, and was accepted. PM Erdoğan's foreign policy advisor, Rafet Akgunay, and former Spanish Ambassador to UNESCO Maximo Cajal were appointed coordinators. After joint work by Zapatero, Erdogan and Annan, the project was officially announced on July 14, 2005. Turkey and Spain, which have both been victims of terrorist attacks, have been given the task of reconciling the Islamic and Christian worlds.

As stated by Mr. Annan's spokesman on July 14, 2005, the U.N.-sponsored "Alliance of Civilizations" will strive "to bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions and polarization among the civilizations which potentially threaten world peace." [1]

Mr. Annan is bringing together a high-level group of 18 to 20 prominent intellectuals to guide the initiative. He is expected to disclose the names of the members of this Commission in September 2005, after a special meeting with Prime Ministers Zapatero and Erdogan in New York, during the U.N. summit. The Other Vision - A New Body

The official U.N. announcement on behalf of Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared the establishment of a special trust fund to finance the project, and a Commission to prepare the action plan. The Turkish media has reported that there is a "second phase" to the project: the establishment of another world body parallel to the UN, to be called "The World Parliament," which will include representatives of all the faiths and cultures of the world.

A front-page report by the mainstream, high circulation, Turkish daily Hurriyet, titled "A Turkish stamp on the World Parliament," elaborated on this vision: [2]

"[…] If a global consensus is reached for the 'Alliance of Civilizations' project, work will begin for the establishment of a 'World Parliament' under U.N. leadership.

" A high-level group of 18 to 20 prominent intellectuals will prepare for the U.N. a 'road map' for action. Annan is expected to disclose the names of the members he has appointed to this Commission […].

"This Commission of eminent intellectuals [which will include Iran's former president Khatami] that will determine ways to eliminate cultural and religious discrimination and to minimize conflicts is expected to present a report with recommendations and an 'action plan' by the end of 2006. One such recommendation may be the removal from school books of any material offensive to the cultures and religions of Islam and the West. The report prepared by this Commission will be presented to Kofi Annan, who then will bring it to the floor of the U.N. General Assembly for a vote.

"Later, the worldwide implementation of the recommendations will begin. Upon achievement of the targeted results, the U.N. will launch the second phase of the project, for the establishment of a 'World Parliament.' The 'Alliance of Civilizations' will constitute the basis for the future 'World Parliament,' in which Turkey [and Spain] will enjoy special [i.e. preferred] status."

"The 'Alliance of Civilizations' project is to be financed by a special trust fund, as announced by the U.N. Spain will contribute €1,000,000 to the fund. [3] Sweden, South Africa, France, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Senegal, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are among the 18 countries that have pledged their support to the project. [4]

"Kofi Annan is urging all the countries to contribute to the special trust fund […]."

"Aznar: 'This Alliance is Nonsense!'

"Former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar defined the 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative undertaken by his successor Zapatero and PM Erdogan as 'nonsense.' In a statement to The Spectator, Aznar said, "The 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative is nonsensical. The only alliance of importance to us [i.e. Spain] is the Atlantic Alliance' […]"

Meeting of Religions in Hatay,Turkey

The Turkish press has been covering the '"First Meeting of Civilizations," which is taking place [September 25 to 30, 2005] in Hatay, [5] Turkey. The meeting, which was organized under the sponsorship of Turkish PM Erdogan, is attended by the representatives of all three [monotheistic] religions, many Turkish and international scientists, political figures, and journalists. The event has sparked strong opposition and protests in Islamist circles in Turkey.

Following are excerpts from the opening remarks by PM Erdogan as reported in all the major Turkish media organs, including Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Aksam, and Radikal:

"PM Erdogan opened the 'First Meeting of Civilizations' in Hatay with an invitation to everyone to 'say no to the clash of civilizations, and say yes to the alliance of civilizations.'

"Erdogan said: 'If there is terrorism in the world, it is not because it is condoned by our religions but because of the ignorant interpretations of some. […] No one has the right to put the name of a religion in front of the word terror. We will never accept the term Islamic terror, in the same way we cannot say Christian or Jewish terror. […] Just like antisemitism is considered a crime against humanity, I hereby declare that Islamophobia is a crime against humanity. […] Hatay is a city of peace and we must raise and spread the voice of peace […].'"

[1] United Nations Information Service,

[2] Hurriyet, July 19, 2005.

[3] Turkey has recently announced that it will make an initial contribution of €500,000 to the project.

[4] These countries will each have a representative appointed to the Alliance of Civilizations Commission that will make recommendations and determine the action plan.

[5] Hatay, a city in southeast Anatolia, has a history of peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Christians and Jews.

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