French President Nicolas Sarkozy has more than once voiced his intention to participate at an upcoming a UN conference to be held in Turkey, which has been arranged in the format of a UN General Assembly meeting, because all 192 members will be represented at the summit, Turkish officials said on Monday.
Most recently, Sarkozy indicated his intention to participate in the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in late February, during his first visit to Turkey since being elected in 2007, Turkish Ambassador Mithat Rende, told reporters on Monday at a press briefing on the upcoming summit, which will be hosted by Turkey in İstanbul on May 9-13.
However, official confirmation of Sarkozy’s participation has not yet been conveyed to Turkey and the UN. Meanwhile, officials at the French Embassy in Ankara recently said that France will be represented by a delegation led by Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire.
The summit in İstanbul, one in a series of conferences to help poorer nations improve prosperity and infrastructure, will be in the format of a UN General Assembly meeting which will include around 60 heads of state and government, more than 100 ministers and deputy ministers, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and heads of governing bodies of the UN system, such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Sarkozy’s willingness to participate in the conference is apparently related to a strong presence of Francophone countries on the list of LDCs, which currently total 48 according to a classification by a related UN resolution, Ankara-based observers said. Another fact for his willingness might well be the desire not to miss a photo opportunity at a summit which will bring key global leaders together, the same observers said.
During his first visit to Turkey since being elected in 2007, Sarkozy underlined Turkey’s importance as a political and economic actor but repeated in the clearest terms his well-known opposition to Turkey’s membership in the European Union. Sarkozy had talks with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his brief, working visit aimed primarily at winning Ankara’s support for his goals during France’s term at the helm of the G20.
Ankara expects Israeli participation
Not only has Israeli President Shimon Peres been invited to the UN conference, but, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has also conveyed invitations to his counterparts in the Israeli government for the summit, Rende said in response to questions, while noting that Ankara has received no official confirmation of participation by Israel yet. However, Ankara does expect participation from Israel, Rende added.
Meanwhile, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme are among those who want to deliver opening speeches at the summit, officials said.
The invitations to the related parties were simultaneously sent both by the UN and Turkey around two months ago. Controversial figures such as Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir are among those who received invitations. The recipients of the UN invitations are the administrations who are accredited to the UN as representatives of their countries. Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan has yet confirmed their participation, Rende said, in response to a question.
İstanbul: UN zone
The Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center and the İstanbul Congress Center in Harbiye will be the venues of the summit. Since the summit will be held in the format of a UN General Assembly meeting, the area of these facilities will be declared a “UN zone,” with the UN flag flying at the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center from May 6 until the summit closes.
UN forces will be working along with Turkish police during the summit. “Turkey has the experience and the capacity for maintaining security at a huge summit like this, that’s why we don’t have a particular security concern,” Rende said.