EU & OIC leaders focus on conflict resolution at Istanbul meeting

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 11:06:39 -0000

Officials and scholars from the European Union and the Organization of
Islamic Conference explored ways to promote long-term cooperation at a
recent conference in Istanbul. Participants portrayed the meeting as a
positive start to an effort to promote greater mutual understanding
between the multinational organization. 

Foreign ministers from 30 nations, along with other officials and
experts, attended the February 12-13 gathering. Discussion topic
included; Prevention of Political and Cultural Fault Lines; Confronting
Common Challenges in Today's Environment; and Politics and Media. 

Attention focused on conflict resolution. Among the most important side
meetings at the forum was between Turkish and Greek Foreign Ministers,
to discuss Aegean Sea-related issues and Cyprus. Greece is an EU member
and Turkey is exploring membership, and EU officials have said that it
would like to see the two countries resolve their long-standing disputes
by 2004. 

Additionally, participants discussed the Middle East peace process. "The
Palestinian problem is the biggest problem of the Islamic world today,"
said Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. The Foreign Ministers of Syria
and Iran called on the EU for a more rigid stance against Israel. 

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliyev lauded the conference for
helping to promote understanding in the West about developments in the
Islamic world. Azerbaijan is currently locked in stalemated peace talks
with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. 

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara criticized the United States,
saying that Washington treats the Islamic world as "the other."
Stressing the importance of the media in today's world, Al-Shara
described the media as "under occupation," portraying events only from a
US perspective. 

Foreign ministers of Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania held a mini
summit during the forum, and Turkey and Greece gave full support to NATO
membership for Romania and Bulgaria. They said that the enlargement of
NATO into Southeastern Europe would help ensure peace, security and
stability in the Balkans. 

Other notable participants included Britain's Foreign Minister Jack
Straw, Greece's Yorgo Papandreau and France's Hubert Verdrin, Pakistan's
Abdul Settar, Iran's Kamal Khrazzi, and the interim Afghan Foreign
Minister Abdullah Abdullah. In addition, Javier Solana, the EU defense
chief, attended the conference. 
 
Source:  Eurasianet

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