Speech delivered by H.E. Ambassador at the High-level Conveference on Migrants and Cities

Mehmet Ferden ÇARIKÇI 27.10.2015

Mme. Moderator,

Distinguished participants,

We believe that this IDM, providing a very good opportunity to share best practices at the local level, will enhance the dialogue on migration, as well as strengthen partnerships to make sure that human mobility contributes to sustainable development.

This year’s IDM focusing on migrants and cities came at a time when world’s attention has been focused on migration more intensely at any time in a generation. Let me inform you that by the proposal of Turkey, “Global awareness of the tragedies of irregular migrants in the Mediterranean basin with specific emphasis on Syrian asylum seekers” will be considered at the UN General Assembly on 20 November 2015.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Cities are incarnate structures that present us the substance, accumulation and synopsis of civilizations. When we look at successful cities that stand out in the history, we see that they are the migrant receiving ones, enriched by cultural diversity and prospered by migration. Therefore, the history of civilizations and cities reveals the fact that existing prejudices about migration being a disruptive phenomenon are totally mistaken. In this sense, Istanbul, where we have successfully realized the 8th GFMD Summit two weeks ago, is one of the best examples. It is an ancient city that has been at the very center of migration throughout centuries. While it has become one of the biggest metropolitans of the world by constantly receiving migrants, it has also blossomed out and developed as a modern city with the contribution of migrants.

In this regard, as the GFMD Chair, besides other important aspects of migration, we advocate for protecting the human rights of migrants and social inclusion of them in the communities. At the Istanbul Summit, we had a dedicated session titled “Beyond Xenophobia and exclusion – Local partnerships and action for the social inclusion of migrants and diaspora”. At this session, we have discussed the ways and means for migrants to become active social and development actors with a view to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. We dwelled on the importance of improving governance at global, national and local levels, as well as changing the narrative on migration. We had also a very successful side event on “Exploring the key role of local and regional authorities in implementing the international migration and development agenda” organized by Joint Migration and Development Initiative.

Distinguished Participants,

We in Turkey have a strong tradition of responding passionately to the peoples in need. We do not only host 2.5 million Syrians and Iraqis today, but also have provided a safe harbor to hundreds of thousands of exiled populations fleeing from persecution throughout the history. In this vein, local authorities play an important role, as they are the closest to the people. They are most directly and immediately impacted by the lives, successes and challenges of migrants. Anatolia being at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia, has welcomed for centuries peoples in dire need.

With this understanding, we believe that it is high time to mobilize our efforts for a concerted response to migration challenges. Therefore, first we should highlight the needs and rights of migrants, stand to the principles of diversity and equality as well as create a consensus on common values and vision. In this vein, one of the ten core international instruments within the UN human rights framework, the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families that Turkey is a party to, has utmost importance. Unfortunately, it has taken 25 years to get only 48 ratifications from 193 UN member countries to this Convention. This does not only constitute a contradiction to our efforts to protect the migrants in the current evolving international setting, but also is a failure in our endeavors in the field of human rights.

Thank you.


Sadık Arslan Ambassador

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