Thank the High Representative, for your continued leadership of the Alliance.
Greet the other distinguished personalities on the podium and thank them for the very useful contributions.
I will heed your call and make, in three minutes, three brief comments.
First, to thank once more the Government of Qatar for organizing the next Forum, with an important and ambitious agenda.
I had the opportunity already at the GoF meeting last March to express our appreciation for the innovative approach, resulting from the vision of her Highness Shekha Mozah, of linking the Alliance’s goals with the MDG’s.
The draft concept paper now before us is a very good development of this idea, by establishing a methodology, a concrete approach mutually supportive of both agendas – the agenda of the Alliance and of the MDG’s – in reaching their convergent and interdependent goals.
The four “challenges” identified for discussion in the draft concept paper are useful references and points of departure for a fruitful debate and practical outcomes. I am sure that an intense debate will be prompted around the concept of human dignity - a very comprehensive even if provoking theme - and the other identified “themes”, with a particular emphasis on the implementation of programmes and activities in the four fields of the Alliance’s action – education, youth, media and migration.
We think the outcome suggested will help promote the necessary partnerships between governments, other relevant stakeholders and partners with a view to garner collective will and encourage concrete action across regions.
Moreover, the instruments proposed to monitor and measure progress are useful mechanisms to help us follow the implementation and the results achieved. For all that, we look forward with much interest to the Forum and to a fruitful discussion in Doha. I assure you of the active engagement of my country at the Forum and we look forward to its successful outcome.
My second comment is directed to the implementation plan for 2011-2013. It is an impressive document, reflecting the maturity of the Alliance, of its central role today in promoting the understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, and reflective of its increasing global implantation. In our view it is a thorough and complete operational document, on which we all can build to start working right now on its implementation.
Building on previous plans, this plan does not shy away from the difficult realities of the present. It embraces and addresses the challenges resulting from the new context of the MENA region, the ongoing debates on how to reconcile diversity and cohesion in societies, confronted with the increased pressure of migration. It continues to address the influence of religion on peace and security – stressing the trend already initiated last year at the Cordoba Conference and the Lisbon Forum on freedom of expression, conscience and religion – bridging the four pillars of the Alliance with the innovative focus on development resulting from the Doha Forum approach.
The implementation plan is a solid instrument of work for the Alliance, identifying priorities, ongoing activities to be consolidated and expanded and new actions to be taken, including those resulting from the expected outcome of the next Forum. We commend you and your staff for preparing the plan and assure you of our full support and readiness to participate in its implementation. More than ever, support – both political and financial – is crucial to realize the Alliance’s goals and make the Alliance a sustainable UN initiative. Portugal has been at the forefront of this support, by ensuring regular contributions to the Trust Fund and financing, promoting or participating in a wide variety of initiatives of the Alliance and we shall continue to do so.
This leads me to my third and last comment which is precisely the financing aspect and the voluntary replenishment mechanism. We fully concur that the Alliance reached a stage where, in order to exercise the “soft power” we all expect from it, the Alliance needs predictable resources to mobilize, in a sustained way, the activities planned in the different areas of work.
The idea of creating the Partner’s forum, as another framework for donors to exchange views on operations and the effectiveness of the Alliance Trust Fund, is an excellent opportunity to mobilize donors and bring them closer to the Alliance work, its priorities and forthcomings. To conclude I wish to reiterate, Mr High Representative, Portugal’s full and continue support to the Alliance.