by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev at an informal meeting on “Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation For Peace”
(13 September 2005, 16.00-18.00)
Heads of States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to express our appreciation to the President of the Philippines Her Excellency Mrs. Gloria Magapagal Arroyo for initiating this very important meeting, which will make a substantial contribution to enhancing interfaith dialogue.
Kazakhstan welcomes the initiatives put forward by a number of states, aimed at maintaining constructive interfaith and intercultural dialogues that complement one another and serve the interests of peace and security.
Globalization became a symbol of our epoch. Yet, while opening tremendous perspectives and offering great opportunities for the development of societies and states, it creates new challenges as well. The widening gap between the developed and developing countries is becoming one of the causes of further marginalization of certain segments of society and of a whole group of countries. Poverty creates a breeding ground for radicalized opinions and pushes people to extremist actions.
We welcome the increasing attention of the United Nations to the development of inter-religious dialogue for peace. In recent years, the General Assembly adopted a number of important resolutions on the promotion of inter-religious dialogue, the development of mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation between religions and cultures, and the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance.
Kazakhstan, which is a home-country for nearly hundred different nationalities and more than 40 religions and confessions, is convinced that strengthening peace and security and ensuring prosperity in the twenty-first century increasingly depends on the pursuit of dialogue and interaction among peoples of different faiths, cultures and traditions.
Dialogue among religions and civilizations is an integral part of efforts aimed at promoting the culture of peace and common values of the Millennium Declaration. Such a dialogue helps to develop understanding and tolerance, while strengthening friendship among peoples in all the multiplicity of their religions, faiths, cultures and languages. We believe there is a need to closely engage governments, civil society, media, private sector and the international organizations in strengthening inter-religious ties.
It is very important to take practical steps to strengthen cooperation among different religions, particularly in the areas of education and mass media, to reinforce mutual understanding and tolerance. We consider it essential that lessons learned by different countries in developing inter-religious dialogue be studied, disseminated and put into practice.
That is why Kazakhstan came up with the initiative regarding a Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which was held in Astana in September 2003 and attended by the representatives of nearly all of the world and traditional religions.
The Congress succeeded in institutionalizing the inter-religious dialogue process by establishing its permanent secretariat. I would like to inform you that the second Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, is to be held next year in Astana, to discuss the issue of “Religions, Society and International Security”. Kazakhstan expects representatives of other emerging forums, such as the “Alliance of Civilizations”, to take part in the Congress.
At present, a Palace of Peace and Harmony is under construction in Kazakhstan is going to be completed next year. The building will house headquarters of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the Institute of Civilizations, and a library of theological literature, which will allow to pursue serious scientific studies of religious issues there.
It is also important to have regional organizations actively participating in the dialogue. Therefore, we offered to host an OSCE conference on interfaith concord in Kazakhstan next spring.
Kazakhstan, as a co-sponsor of the Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace: Enhancing Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation Towards Peace in the Twenty-first Century, that was held at the UN Headquarters in New York on June 22, 2005, supports its decisions and recommendations. Strengthening ties between the UN and various sectors of civil society, including religious non-governmental organizations, is important to us. We also support the initiative to establish a consultative group consisting of representatives of the UN member-countries, organizations of the UN and NGOs to follow-up on the suggestions and recommendations of the Conference.
Let me express our confidence that dialogue and cooperation among religions, cultures and civilizations will result in joint practical measures, promoting just and durable peace.