Dear participants of the Congress!
I have the great honor to declare the Congress of World and Traditional National Religions open!
Today's Congress is attended by delegations of all religions of the world, a total of 17 delegations of various religious trends, honored guests and representatives of international organizations.
Muslim delegations are represented at the highest level: Secretary General of the World Islamic League - Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdul Muhsin Al-Turki, Supreme Imam of Al-Azhar - Sheikh Mohammed Sayd Tantawi, President of the Muslim organization "Jamaat-u-Shabab-e-Islam" - Salman Al-Husaini Al-Nadvi, Vice-President of the International Islamic University Dr.Mahmoud Ahmad Ghazi, Chairman of the Committee on Islamic Jurisprudence and Law under the Ministry of Science and New Technologies Mehdi Hadawi Moghaddam.
The Vatican delegation is headed by Cardinal Josef Tomko, who includes two Ministers.
The Russian Orthodox Church is represented by Methodius, Metropolitan of Almaty and Astana, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople by Emmanuel, Metropolitan of France (who will arrive tonight), the Anglican Church by Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Croydon and Canon Jonathon Robin Blanning Gauf, Secretary of the Archbishop of Canterbury for Ecumenism.
The Lutheran World Union is represented by the Secretary General of the Lutheran World Union, Dr. Ishmael Noko.
A delegation of Judaism, headed by Chief Rabbi Ion Metzger, takes part in the work of the Congress at the highest level. The delegation includes the President of the European Council of Rabbis, Chief Rabbis of Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, Kazakhstan, as well as the President of the Eurasian Jewish Congress.
The delegation of the All-China Association of Buddhists is headed by Jiamuyang Losangjumei Tudanquejinima and the Secretary General of the Asian Buddhist Conference for Peace from Mongolia, T. Bulganin.
The delegation of the All-China Association of Taoists is represented by Zhang Jiyu.
The Shinto delegation is headed by Minoru Sonoda, Director of the Main Department of Shinto Temples, and the Hindu delegation is headed by Dr. Shantilal Somaya, Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Indology and Interreligious Dialogue.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, as well as Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople sent their messages to the Congress.
I am pleased to announce that, recognizing the importance of our forum and its importance for peace and harmony on earth, the Heads of the leading States and Governments in the world have sent their welcoming messages to the participants.
Among them according to chronology:
Jacques Chirac - President of the French Republic, Fahd bin Abdulaziz - King of Saudi Arabia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin - President of the Russian Federation, George Bush - President of the United States, Tony Blair - Prime Minister of Great Britain, Hosni Mubarak - President of Egypt, Silvio Berlusconi - Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, Kofi Annan - UN Secretary General, Roman Prodi - The President of the European Commission, a group of US Senators and Congressmen, ex-President of France Valerie Giscard d'Estaing, ex-President of Poland Lech Walesa, ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain Margaret Thatcher, ex-Vice-Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
Dear participants of the Congress!
Before starting the work of the Congress and starting my report, I would like to suggest that you a minute of silence for reflection and appeals to God, so that he gives us the will, strength and wisdom to unite all religions, confessions and peoples in the name of peace and harmony on earth.
Dear participants and guests of the Congress!
It is a great joy and a great honor for me to welcome you, representatives of the world's leading religions on the ancient land of Kazakhstan. On my own behalf and on behalf of our multinational people, I express my deep gratitude to you for responding to our invitation and honoring this forum with your presence and participation.
It is deeply symbolic that it takes place in the very heart of Eurasia.
For many centuries, the territory of the Great Steppe was distinguished by the integrated peaceful coexistence of many peoples who professed different religions - Tengrianism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others.
From ancient times to the present day, this land, through trade and cultural exchange, serves as a kind of link between Asia and Europe. It is still home to representatives of many peoples and faiths.
We are proud to talk about a unique social and humanitarian phenomenon, which is reflected in the preamble of our Constitution, which begins with the words: "We are the people of Kazakhstan..." I would like to note a very remarkable fact. In the south of our country there is a thirteenth-century settlement of Koylyk. In this ancient settlement, a Buddhist pagoda, a mosque and a Christian church were located side by side.
And today, in the new capital of Kazakhstan, as well as in all our other cities, you can freely visit a mosque, an Orthodox church, a Catholic church, a synagogue, a house of prayer. This is our connecting thread.
Preparation for this Congress gave me the idea of building a Palace of Nations in Astana. It will have a mosque, a church, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple. The Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan and all national cultural centers will also be located here.
By the way, the Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan has become a unique institution of civil society for us, helping to effectively implement the state national policy. Its work has been recognized by the Kazakh society and highly appreciated in many countries and in international organizations such as the UN and OSCE.
The ensemble of the Palace of Nations will become a kind of symbol of the unity of the people of our country, within which representatives of over one hundred and twenty nationalities live and work in peace and harmony. More than forty confessions operate freely in our country.
This is our unconditional national wealth and a chance for a stable future and development.
I am convinced that the interethnic and interfaith harmony that we are preserving and strengthening has become the foundation that has allowed us to dynamically carry out cardinal and large-scale transformations, ensured success in the political, economic and social spheres. They are generally recognized today.
We adhere to the principles of tolerance, harmony and cooperation in our foreign policy activities.
They are based on the idea of multi-vector, integration, consolidation in the name of global and regional security, justice and progress.
Kazakhstan was the first of all states to voluntarily abandon the world's fourth largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and permanently closed the world's largest nuclear test site. This was our worthy contribution to global security, which was recognized by other peoples and States.
Our country initiated the convening of a Meeting on Confidence and Security Measures in Asia, which was organized last year at the forum of Heads of State of the region in Almaty.
In February of this year, we held a Conference of Peace and Harmony. It was attended by many prominent religious figures, representatives of different faiths. The Declaration "Towards Peace and Harmony" was adopted, the Forum for Peace and Stability was established.
I believe that every leader of the religious denominations represented in Kazakhstan will be able to confirm the fact of the revival and spiritual uplift of the communities they lead.
This is a consequence of the efforts of our state to preserve peace, harmony and stability of society, which we consider one of our main achievements.
We will continue to work hard on strengthening the foundations of stability and security of Kazakhstan's society.
At the same time, we see and clearly realize that no matter how great the efforts being made in this direction within one State, they will not bring the proper result if external factors do not contribute to it. This is an immutable fact for any state on the planet.
The issue of peaceful existence and constructive interaction of peoples, religions, States and Governments in our time is becoming particularly relevant. From a purely theoretical plane, it has moved into the category of the most important practical tasks.
That is why the continuation of the dialogue of religions, cultures, civilizations, which, through the efforts of many prominent political and religious figures, in fact, has not stopped from ancient times to the present day, seems extremely necessary.
We need a deep critical analysis of events and phenomena both in the global dimension and in the regional, domestic one.
This analysis will certainly help, as it is said, "to separate the wheat from the chaff", to protect the human community from any political, economic, religious, and even more so, military extremism in the future.
I have no doubt that this analysis can become a vaccine against the temptations of "simple solutions", which abound in the world today, from the penetration of inhumane ideas.
In this regard, I would like to share with the respected forum my vision of only some of the problems of our time.
Firstly, I consider the arguments that have been going on in recent years on the topics of "conflict of civilizations" and "crisis of religions" to be untenable.
On the contrary, in terms of ongoing radical changes in the world order, the difficulties of adapting billions of people around the world to technological innovations, the stringent requirements of the global market, there has been a massive return of humanity to the search for answers in religious truths. According to their moral and ethical potential, they cannot be compared with anything.
The feature of the central part of Eurasia in this sense is that here religion has also become a factor of national consolidation of many people.
We must also not forget that in this vast space, the tradition of freedom of conscience and the exercise of religious needs by believers was artificially interrupted for decades. After we adopted new laws on religion, faith found a new life, there was a sharp increase in the number of parishioners in all communities.
And this is a welcome phenomenon, since religion is perhaps the only global phenomenon before the advent of the era of globalization that has preserved and brought to the world the ideas of humanism and cultural dialogue.
In addition to spiritual universalism, religion is also an effective institution of international cooperation. This is especially important now, in our time, when there is an increase in the number of local and regional conflicts, which in some cases have an ethno-religious connotation.
Where the methods of political regulation fail, the role of the Word of God remains the only means of reconciliation and hope. The role of religious traditions, which are based on the highest standards of morality, in our rapidly, sometimes chaotically changing world, cannot be overestimated.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing that in the modern world, the ability of religion to mobilize people for political action is far from being exploited for good purposes.
The very meaning of the category of "sacredness" is distorted. Its perverse interpretation leads to contempt for human laws, to permissiveness, to actions incompatible with morality, morality, humanism, with the basic postulates of any religion.
I am convinced that the time has come to decisively declare the inadmissibility of giving ideological, political coloring to existing cultural, civilizational and religious differences.
We should learn to distinguish and expose the true essence of acts of aggression and violence, which are masked by doctrines of a pseudo-religious nature.
Secondly, now it is more appropriate to talk not about the "conflict", but about the "meeting of civilizations". No "end of history" is foreseen for the simple reason that humanity at this historical moment, I think it will be in the future, does not have the only and universal civilizational model of cultural and religious structure that the world community would accept as the only basis for its existence.
In my opinion, all these are myths inspired by "dreams of the mind" and absolutely false goals. And every sensible politician, every statesman and religious figure should be clearly aware of this.
Any mono-system, in my deep conviction, is not able to ensure balance, stability and development, not only of the whole of humanity, but even of its part. It will always be fraught with the threat of conflict and explosion. Only the formula is true - unity in diversity, in multinational, in multi-confessional.
It is necessary to realize and take into account the fact that there are other civilizations, cultures, religions that have no less deep and significant history, have their own symbols and mentality. And this cannot be broken by any forceful and strong-willed methods.
At the present time, there is not a clash of civilizations in the world, but the adaptation of cultural and religious systems, albeit not always easy and adequate, to the new world, new technologies and new social relations.
We all probably realize that globalization and modern technologies of both production and socio-political structure certainly respond to the challenges of the time.
But they are fraught with not only benefits, but also carry fornication, that is, they also have negative manifestations that society can still minimize, if not nullify.
There are great indisputable values that have nothing to do with material well-being, which will forever remain a priority and fundamental for a person.
The main ones are spirituality and morality. Their main carriers are religion, which preserves the national and religious traditions developed over the centuries, the original historical and cultural experience of each nation.
And finally, thirdly. In the global world of the XXI century, filled with worries and threats, the state, religion, and civil society have, in my opinion, a special and unified strategy and a way of showing goodwill.
This is peacemaking, an appeal and an action aimed at achieving harmony, mutual understanding, cooperation between countries, peoples, and faiths.
Only through tolerance and partnership will we be able to succeed in the fight against such manifestations of global evil as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and any other, drug trafficking and its consequences, environmental destruction, the most severe physical and social diseases of our time.
It is also charity and charity towards the most disadvantaged segments of society.
In the coming period, these issues, in my opinion, should occupy a significant place in the activities of governments, international organizations, and all world public institutions.
And, of course, world and national-traditional religions should play a significant role in this.
A meeting on Kazakh soil could make a modest contribution to the formation of a culture of interfaith dialogue.
In our opinion, we can talk about the creation of a system of consultative meetings, the formation of certain procedures and norms of such a dialogue.
At the same time, and I believe that you will share my opinion, we do not need, and we cannot set any final goals. It is impossible to create a single religious space. It is impossible to overcome the existing differences to the end, especially since sometimes they affect the foundations of great religions.
However, the value of a constant dialogue lies in the fact that, despite the existing differences, the very meaning and the process of searching for some kind of "golden mean" is preserved. And most importantly, dialogue creates a territory of peace and harmony, a time of harmony and clarity. And in this I see the undoubted value of religious dialogue.
In this regard, I appeal to representatives of all religions and confessions with a proposal to hold a Forum of Religions on a permanent basis.
The creation of such an institution will strengthen the foundations of interreligious dialogue, give consistency to constructive contacts between religious figures and believers themselves.
In the future, this may lay the foundations of an international organization whose task will be to reduce interreligious tension in the world, promote spirituality, peacefulness and tolerance.
We can also take the first step in developing a Charter of religious tolerance. Today, a document is urgently needed that would not just prescribe the principles of peaceful coexistence of religions, but also prove the need for a constructive dialogue between them.
We can think about creating a Single cultural center of religions. This idea has been floating for a long time, and today there is a need for its practical implementation.
And if religious figures entrust us with this, then we are ready, with your support and with your participation, to take up the solution of these important and urgent tasks.
Dear participants and guests of the Congress!
Once again, I sincerely thank you for your participation and deep attention to the problems of the modern world.
I see the highest mission of spiritual pastors today in bringing to people their faith pure, undistorted by addictions, devoid of misunderstanding, and even more so hostility and malice.
I know that all of you carry the light of true faith, truth, kindness and humanity. I bow low to you all for your truly titanic and not always grateful work.
Good luck and happiness to you!
Thank you for your attention!