Esteemed President of the Republic of Serbia!
Dear participants and guests of the Congress!
I am very glad and honored to welcome you on the Kazakh land!
Your Eminences, Holiness, Excellencies, dear participants and guests of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen!
I am sincerely pleased to welcome you to the hospitable land of Kazakhstan.
Let me express my deep gratitude to spiritual leaders, representatives of international organizations, politicians and experts for supporting our initiative to convene the Congress and your personal participation in it.
15 years have passed since the first historic Congress was held here.
Today we are gathering for the sixth time.
I am very pleased to see our old friends again, who participated in previous meetings.
I am glad to welcome those who visit Astana for the first time.
This year, our capital has celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions can be called its hallmark, because we built this city, our capital Astana, as a Eurasian city of the future open to all cultures. The well-known principle “unity in diversity” is the true philosophy of the Kazakh capital.
Astana has become well known to the entire international community as a point of attraction for peacemaking processes and uniting initiatives.
Our capital city has a special spirit of solidarity, mutual respect and tolerance.
Over the past three years since the last Congress, the Kazakh capital has welcomed important global events.
The decisions adopted in Astana gained widespread international interest as they conveyed the message of peacekeeping, partnership, tolerance and creation. All this is all more important since the world, to our great regret, is facing a turbulent period.
All of us, both politicians and religious leaders, have every reason to be concerned by the sanction confrontation, inter-religious and intra-religious differences, trade wars, and environmental pollution.
Inter-civilization conflicts look absurd as science and technology progress. However, it is now that the future of humanity is shaping. The main civilizational challenge is in what state we will hand over our common planet to future generations.
We have been living in the third millennium for 18 years now, but peace, well-being and prosperity have not yet become a permanent trend of human development. The world community could not break the vicious circle of mutual distrust, hostility and conflicts.
We see that not only the state of affairs did not get redress, it worsened. New walls, new “iron curtains” are being built between countries and geopolitical blocks.
But the most dangerous thing is that mutual alienation is growing in people’s minds and hearts.
Tremendous strides have been made to look for reasons for rivalry, not frameworks for cooperation, to create means of destroying each other, and not joint projects for the prosperity of nations. Let us face it, this is a deeply wrong path leading to a deadlock. Therefore, our common duty is to help get back on the path of progress. We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Hundreds of thousands, millions of people are forced to leave their homes, many others go missing. The number of refugees on the planet has exceeded 65 million people. Losses grow not only because of direct conflicts. Humankind wastes its energy and resources on collision instead of using them to protect against natural disasters.
Every year, natural disasters force approximately 24 million people below the poverty line. Millions of people are forced to flee their homes.
Despite a rapid technological development and a growing global wealth, the scale of social disasters continues to expand. The United Nations data estimate that 14 percent of the world's population are victims of chronic undernourishment. The total number of unemployed people exceeded 190 million. This exacerbates social inequality as a breeding ground for radicalism. Therefore, a safe, fair world is a crucial issue.
Actively working in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, Kazakhstan is clearly and unequivocally in favor of taking urgent measures to solve global problems hindering human progress. However, a safe world cannot be achieved only through the efforts of the UN Security Council.
Today, we all, including religious and politicians present here, must contribute to overcoming global confidence crisis. Spiritual leaders certainly should speak out. You represent religions, each of which is unique. But each of them fully recognizes human values, the unity of moral principles.
I am sure that it is spirituality woven from a multitude of convictions, beliefs and ideals that should become a process that unifies impulses.
A belief in the favors of the Almighty rests on a genuine desire for peacemaking. A person prone to conflict will never become a true believer.
The five Congresses held in Astana decisively affirmed the viability of the idea of mutual respect and constructive cooperation of leaders of different cultures, religions and societies. This is proved by Kazakhstan’s experience.
Although the majority of our citizens consider themselves Muslims, this does not hamper the freedom of all other religions. You can see this by walking around our capital, where different places of worship stand next to each other, and people go there and pray in peace.
Kazakhstan registered more than 3.5 thousand religious entities of 18 different denominations. With such diversity, we were able to strike a balance between ensuring national security and protecting religious freedoms. It is well recognized that we developed a special Kazakh model of interfaith peace and harmony.
I am certain that Kazakhstan’s experience and practice is quite applicable on a global scale.
Our joint efforts will bring tangible results in ensuring peace, progress and well-being of citizens of many countries.
Dear participants and guests of the Congress!
Let me share my perspective on those areas where we could focus and work together.
First. In the information era, we must take full advantage of new technology in order to promote the ideas of peace and harmony at the global level. To this end, we propose to create an information portal on the basis of our Congress. The goal of the portal would be to support the research and application of methods to strengthen resistance to any manifestation of religious radicalism and violence in general.
It can become a platform to reach out to believers globally. Every believer will be able to contact the leaders of religious organizations, denominations and receive feedback on a question or suggestion.
Second. We are not using enough the huge potential of our aspirations to ensure peace on the Earth. It is necessary to upgrade our level of interaction. What is meant here is to use the enormous potential of spiritual leaders and religious organizations to establish a constructive dialogue between conflicting parties.
I suggest all spiritual leaders to appeal to the world community, people, states for peace and security. It could be made in the form of a fatwa, encyclical, or other message and appeal, according to the practice of each religion.
Third. One of the global problems of our time remains to be the lack of affordable education. Today, 750 million people can neither read nor write. It is impossible to overcome poverty without mass involvement in knowledge and sciences. Education is the basis of sustainable immunity to the ideas of radicalism in all its manifestations.
And religious education plays extremely important role in this regard. Now its platform is actively used by various pseudo-religious organizations. Therefore, world and traditional religions could take actions to separate religious values from political ideologies.
Fourth. Modernization of the global security system depends on the ability of the world community to overcome militaristic thinking and associated dangerous anachronisms.
It is necessary to leave in the past the division of countries into military blocs, their existence becomes provocative and meaningless.
I set forth my vision of global anti-war measures in my Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”, which suggests building a nuclear weapons free world by the centenary of the United Nations. We have a moral right to this.
Kazakhstan closed the world’s most powerful nuclear test site, renounced the world’s fourth-largest nuclear missile arsenal.
If the international community, including religious leaders, supports our suggested actions, this goal, I think, can be achieved.
Kazakhstan traditionally works to restore and strengthen trust between states. As you know, we make our own contribution to the settlement of the Syrian conflict, including by providing a platform for negotiations.
We are constantly working on resolving the problems of Eastern Ukraine. Kazakhstan mediated in the conflict between Russia and Turkey to improve their relations. We are ready to continue working in this direction.
Kazakhstan will continue to make maximum efforts to address issues related to regional and global security.
For the joint implementation of these initiatives, for my part, I am ready to establish the Center for the Development of Inter-Regional and Inter-Civilizational Dialogue.
We must work together to achieve a safer world, a fairer world order based on the supremacy of international law.
Dear friends! I would like to once again draw your attention to the general task that needs to be solved by our joint efforts to:
- change the paradigm of global thinking from confrontation to cooperation;
- move from forceful egoism, social nihilism and economic nationalism to a responsible search for reasonable compromises;
- reverse the processes of total dissociation, not to let them pass the point of no return.
I perfectly understand the scale of this goal. At the same time, I realize how powerful the spiritual capacity is in the whole world.
Religion has always been a fundamental force shaping the culture and social relations. And now the world has entered a new dimension, where the role of religions and its generally recognized leaders will be crucial.
The clash of civilizations is not a fatal choice of mankind, it is in our hands to change it. We must unite all our aspirations in search of a harmonious world order.
Earlier in the history of mankind there were no analogues of building bridges between religions, as it happens in the 21st century. Our forum is a fundamentally new system of cooperation between spiritual hierarchs and politicians.
Today once again we are given a unique opportunity to share our vision of global prospects for harmonious development.
I hope that this meeting will enrich the practice of international and religious communication with innovative ideas and fresh proposals.
I have long thought about building a palace where world civilizations could gather and discuss the problems. I have already said how we, Kazakh citizens, treat this. We decided to build a pyramid where we are now, the sides of which are turned to all four corners of the world, so that everyone and all could come here with their own thoughts and opinions, and leave after exchanging views with a single thought - the sacred thought of peace and well-being on our planet.
And now, for the sixth time, we gather in this hall, which has also become a blessed one.
Once again I would like to sincerely thank you for the support to our Congress and wish you all good health and success in your noble service to humanity. I want to wish everyone fruitful work, open and beneficial dialogue and positive decisions.
In conclusion, I would like to inform you about the decision made to present the first award of the Congress for the contribution to the interreligious dialogue to the Pontifical Council of Vatican.
We are, indeed, grateful to the Holy See for the great and valuable work in supporting our forum.
I would like to present this award in your presence.
Moreover, a number of religious leaders have been awarded state awards and commemorative medals of the Congress. On my behalf, they will be handed over to you by the Head of the Secretariat of the Congress, Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentlemen.