UN panel discusses peace in Middle East

By Ahmet Furkan Mercan and Mehmet Alaca

ANKARA (AA) – United Nations International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East, inassociation of the UN Global Communications office and the Turkish Foreign Ministry, began in capital Ankara on Wednesday.

The seminars will continue on Thursday with the attendance of high-level bureaucrats, academicians, journalists as well as diplomats.

The UN seminar this year focuses on humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestine territories and the challenges journalists face in the region.

Naci Aydan Karamanoglu, deputy director general of communication at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, said in the opening remarks that people of the Middle East lived in peace for centuries, and diversity was considered a source of wealth.

He added that the current situation differs from the historical process.

Gaza is still under blockade, and Palestinians have the right to return to their homeland, said Karamanoglu.

Cheikh Niang, permanent representative of Senegal to the United Nations, also delivered a speech at the seminar.

Niang stressed the significance of international media coverage of Palestine issue, and said that media can be a voice to those who are voiceless.

A message by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also read out at the seminar in the capital.

Riyadh Mansour, Palestine’s permanent observer at the UN, said Israeli blockade was the main reason behind the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to Peter Mulrean, director of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Representative Office in New York, the 12-year blockade in the region was the result of multilateral disagreements between parties.

Difficulties journalists face in the Middle East were also discussed in the seminar.

London School of Economics fellow Dr. Ian Black, Hareetz columnist Amira Hass, former New York Times reporter Majd al Waheidi, and Daily Sabah columnist Merve Sebnem Oruc were among the speakers.

* Writing by Rabia Iclal Turan