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December 1, 2010 - Uniting gift Print E-mail


An event of enormous spiritual significance has taken place in the Assumption Cathedral of Astana. The Metropolitan District of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan received from the delegation of the Roman Catholic Church headed by the Vatican’s State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone a gift of Pope Benedict XVI - particle of St. Andrew’s relics.

Now thousands upon thousands of parishioners of the Dormition Cathedral of the capital and pilgrims from all over Kazakhstan will worship the great Christian relic.

Ringing of the Cathedral bells greeted the honored guests. Metropolitan of Astana and Kazakhstan Alexander delivered an eloquent speech addressing the public:

- The Holy Relics of St. Andrew is the great Christian shrine. The Apostle Andrew, revered among the apostles is the first apostle called by Christ to preach the holy Gospel. St. Andrew the First Called is the patron saint of several countries, including Russia. The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbaev was awarded with the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called - the highest award of Russian Federation- for the development of friendship between countries. The transfer of the relics held on the eve of the OSCE Summit in Astana is the evidence of good interfaith relations.

Vatican calls the transfer of particle of St. Andrew’s relics an extraordinary event. This was said by the Vatican’s State Secretary Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during a press conference.

- Our churches are based on the foundation of the apostle and joined by the apostolic spirit, apostolic succession - he said.

The Cardinal noted that the issue on transfer of a particle of St. Andrew’s holy relics rest in the Italian city of Amalfi, to the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan was discussed earlier between Kazakhstan metropolis and the apostolic nunciature.

This solution, he stressed, was born out of a deep communion between the Church of Rome and the Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan and is the moment of our joint prayer, joint proclamation of the Gospel and joint work.

- I feel the deepest joy because the relics of Saint Andrew the Apostle will be at the heart of Eurasia in the Assumption Cathedral - said Tarcisio Bertone.

Indeed the Cathedral is a special place. It was built in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Akimat of Astana city allocated a plot of land for its construction on the initiative of the President of our country.

Now it is the first cathedral, built over many decades in Central Asia. The Cathedral was ceremonially consecrated by the Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill in January of this year.

Valentina FIRONOVA

Photo by Yuriy BECKER

“Kazakhstanskaya Pravda”


November 30, 2010. Head of the State Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Secretary of State of the Holy See (Vatican) Tarcisio Bertone within the frameworks of the coming OSCE Summit. Print E-mail


Issues of cooperation of Kazakhstan and Vatican in development of the interreligious dialogue as one of the most important tools for maintaining peace and accord between people were discussed at the meeting

- I congratulated the President and expressed admiration for the organizational level of the Summit. We remembered the great ideas on accord, peace and charity that could confront injustice in our world. We addressed the issues of interreligious dialogue firstly between Islam and Christianity. I hope we can come to closer cooperation and brotherly relations through mutual perception and education. Holy Father Benedict XVI sends his blessings and greetings to all people of Kazakhstan, Tarcisio Bertone said at the briefing with journalists.



27 November 2010 - The head of the Metropolitan District in Kazakhstan Print E-mail
27 November 2010 - The head of the Metropolitan District in Kazakhstan, Metropolitan of Astana and Kazakhstan Alexander is convinced that cooperation between Muslims and Orthodox people of the republic will be strengthened.
17 November 2010 Particle of St. Andrew’s relics to be brought to Astana as Pope’s gift Print E-mail
Pope Benedict XVI sends particle of St. Andrew’s relics as a gift to the Russian Orthodox Church, RIA Novosti reported with reference to the Austrian agency Kathpress.
A reliquary with relics intended for Metropolitan District of the ROC in Kazakhstan, will be brought to Astana by the second to the Pope leading person in the Catholic hierarchy - Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The solemn ceremony of handing over of the relics will be held on the Feast Day of Saint Andrew on November 30 at the Assumption Cathedral of Astana. The ceremony will be attended from the Orthodox party by Metropolitan Alexander, the Metropolia head, with the Orthodox episcopate and from the Catholic party – by the Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kazakhstan and Central Asia Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, Catholic bishops of Kazakhstan. The ceremony is expected to be attended by representatives of the governmental authorities of the country.
Experts note that Orthodox-Catholic Relations in Kazakhstan improved significantly in recent years.
Muslims predominate in Kazakhstan, the population of which is about 16 million people (according to the Statistics Agency of the Republic, Islam is practiced by 70%). More than 26% of population are Christians most of them refer themselves to the ROC.
The Assumption Cathedral in Astana, consecrated by Patriarch Cyril in January this year, is the largest Christian Church in Central Asia. It’s height - 68 meters, the area - two thousand square meters. The cathedral’s capacity is about four thousand believers.

15 November 2010 - Islamic peace- to your home Print E-mail
The year of Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship successfully draws to a close, and Kazakhstan will chair the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) next year. Our country as an acknowledged integrator in the global community is expected to obtain significant results in its new position, firstly in promoting the dialogue among civilizations.
Principles are unaltered
The main principles of international activities of our republic remain unaltered since the beginning of the independence. Integration process has always been and remains to be a priority direction of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. Based on the context of the challenges facing our country, it is obvious that the RoK chairing the CFM OIC will work on a few main directions. Firstly it is work for a higher level of understanding and interaction between the Islamic states and the rest of the world, secondly – for Muslim states’ consolidation and more cooperation in economy, ecology, humanitarian problems in the OIC frames, and for the OIC higher status as an international institute of integration, for its lasting cooperation with CICA, OSCE, SCO and other structures.
Born in Rabat
Although Kazakhstan joined the OIC in 1995, the activity of this organization is not better known in our country. Meanwhile, the OIC is the largest and most influential Muslim international organization with 57 member-states of around 1,2bn population. It was founded in 1969 at the Muslim states’ leaders Conference in Rabat for the “Islamic solidarity in social, economic and political areas, for fighting colonialism, neocolonialism and racism and for support of Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)”. The headquarters of the OIC are in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). With the collapse of the world colonial system the organization’s tasks and aims have considerably changed.
As mentioned already interaction with the Islamic world is among RK foreign political priorities. The Islamic world in its turn considers Kazakhstan as an integral part of the Muslim community.
Representatives of the Republic take part in all major activities of the OIC, such as summits, as well as annual foreign ministers’ coordination conferences during the UN General Assembly session. The OIC supported the initiative of Kazakhstan to establish inter-faith dialogue by convening the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.
The interaction with the Islamic Development Bank and other financial and consulting companies has particular importance. A number of major projects in our country were implemented with the help of these companies.
Close cooperation with the Islamic Organization on education, science and culture (ISESCO) helps our country to implement such national projects as the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage, exchange of experience in the field of learning and teaching languages, history and culture of Islamic countries.
Note that on the OIC Extraordinary Summit, held on 7-8 December 2005 in Mecca – a holy town to Muslims, a 10-year action plan of the organization was adopted. On the proposal of Kazakhstan, it includes provisions on the need for political, economic and financial support to the states in ecology, as well as promoting and enhancing inter-faith dialogue within the frame of the dialogue of civilizations.
Already a year after in the 33rd CFM OIC session in Baku a resolution on assistance to the region of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and the Aral Sea has been unanimously approved, as well as the initiative of the Head of our State on convening the II Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was supported.
Bridging misunderstanding
Unfortunately, in the West many people often refuse to understand the realities of the Muslim world. An illustrative example to it is the recent tensions around an American pastor’s pledge to publicly burn Koran on 11 September. This plan widely reported in the international media caused a storm of anger among Muslims. Moreover the the American leadership was just coaxing (!) this provocateur not to commit the auto-da-fe.
The same is true of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad drawn by a Dutchman. And also the attempts were taken to explain this fact by the Western understanding of freedom of speech. Naturally, many things in the western and eastern mentality are different, including understanding of freedom of speech. But it seems that it is time to negotiate on the top level about the things that cannot be done under any circumstances.
Taking into account that there are not so many fundamental prohibitions, and nothing would happen to human rights with the legislature forbidding mockery of a different faith and its symbols. Human rights, they say end where another individual’s rights start. Perhaps a special convention should be signed by the international community for it. And since the majority of civilized countries adopted the absolute priority of international norms over national, then this issue will be removed.
Our country has an understanding of the internal problems of the Islamic world, related in the first place to faith. The OIC members are in need of a well-coordinated long-term policy for rooting out the deeply seated image of Islam in the West as an aggressive religion. Enlightened Islam must be fostered by the Muslim states (as practiced in the secular Kazakhstan), open to the achievements of science, engineering and culture.
The OIC members’ duty is to disclose to the world a big potential of humanism, morality, spirituality and creation underlying genuine Islam. It is necessary to fight the pseudo-Islam doctrines calling for self-isolation and violence to attain the goal.
In this connection presentation of former Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev at OIC 10th CFM summit comes to mind, in which he said the Organization was but partly justifying the hopes put on it, for all the positive points in it. Its work, he said, should be politically more sensitive and flexible to reality.
For the first time from the podium of such a high level it was said that “after the well-known events in US, Afghanistan and Iraq the world had split into opposing camps nations and peoples divided into friends and foes. Inadequate perception of Islam still holding on in some parts of the world, breeds mutual mistrust. Now that the world is facing threat of international terrorism and extremism, these invisible walls spawn intolerance”.
These words were heard by the participants. Thus, the Malaysian national news agency BERNAMA, noted that “Kazakhstan offers to defend Islam from the isolation and mistrust of the outside world, by initiating interaction and dialogue with other religions”.
Priorities of chairmanship
In his presentation at the 37th session of the CFM OIC in Dushanbe the RK state secretary and foreign minister Kanat Saudabayev listed main priorities of our country for the period of chairmanship in 2011. He said in particular that the elapsed decade had been the time of trial to Islamic world that had become the target for destructive forces. The outcomes of this destructive policy are apparent: wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan, stagnation in the Middle-East settlement process, internal conflicts, growth of anti-Islamic sentiments…
-We should respond to these challenges by creation of a new paradigm of security, based on mutual respect and mutual understanding, -Kanat Saudabayev said. The Islamic ummah should actively participate in resolving the most acute problems of our time, asserting its interests in the emerging new world order of the XXI century.
According to him the main priorities in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy are averting emergence of new dividing lines, development of multiple views and partnership, international cooperation in countering threats and promoting dialogue among civilizations.
-The OIC needs to adopt a program for financial-economic assistance to less developed Central Asia countries, -the state secretary noted.
Central Asia, K. Saudabayev said has an important geo-strategic position and is rich in natural resources, which makes it a most important zone of the modern world politics, on whose stability the global stability depends.
The potential security risks to the region associated with the unstable situation in Afghanistan to a large extent.
- Although the military operation led by the international coalition forces against the Taliban has led to a noticeable reduction in direct terroristic threat to Central Asia, today it is obvious that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem, - emphasized the head of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.
- Now Afghanistan is in need of assistance in transferring a society from the armed confrontation to the “creative rails”.
Another important aspect of the OIC activity is the establishment of its full cooperation with the OSCE. K.Saudabayev emphasized that the current chairmanship of Kazakhstan - the first time in history when the organization is headed by a state with a predominantly Muslim population.
- Today I stand before you as the current Chairman of this prestigious international organization - the head of the MFA said. - The activities of the Personal Representative of the Chairman on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims show our special attention in the OSCE to the issues of Islamophobia and the oppression against Muslims. And a quite logical step in this connection could be OIC’s accession to CICA (as an observer), because the topical issues of security and confidence-building measures on the continent are discussed within the framework of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.
According to the observers, Kazakhstan as the founder of CICA, ex-chair of the OSCE and OIC chair in the next year Kazakhstan could considerably further a system interaction between these structures.
Most experts, assessing the prospects for the chairmanship, believe that the Republic with its inherent commitment to cooperation will bring the spirit of high tolerance to the OIC, desire to bring closer the positions of East and West, to increase the level of dialogue between civilizations and religions.
Bek ARGYNOV, Kazakhstanskaya Pravda

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