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Address by K.Tokayev, Head of the Secretariat of the Congress, at the opening of the 7th Session of the Secretariat Print E-mail

October 28, 2008, Almaty

Most Reverend Participants!
Dear Guests!

I have a great pleasure to meet you again at the VII Session of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Almaty.

Your presence at this meeting is a clear confirmation that the idea of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions continues to be relevant in the modern world.  

Today peace-loving representatives of religions blessed with true faith have gathered together in this room. Not only believers but also millions of ordinary people heed to your words as they strive for accord and friendship.

Nowaday's Kazakhstan has positioned itself as a nation with a solid political system, public accord and stability. Due to reasonable balance of interests of all 130 ethnic groups in the country the equality of citizens has been maintained, the freedom of worship has been ensured. Thanks to this we have been able to avoid conflicts and achieve stable development of Kazakhstan.

To date, many in the world have recognized the unique character of the Kazakhstan's model. Our country will join the OSCE Troika starting from the next year and will chair this Organization in 2010. We consider this fact as a recognition of our strong record in ensuring peace and cohesion in a society where many ethnic groups have been coexisting.

In 2011, Kazakhstan will assume chairmanship of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  This, we believe, is another sign of profound respect for our role in the promotion of global intercultural and interfaith dialogue.

These international accomplishments and the current favorable domestic situation in Kazakhstan are logical results of the policy aimed at building a successful democratic state and effective economy that has been pursued by our nation's leader, the President of Kazakhstan, Mr.Nursultan Nazarbayev.  The Head of our state has been able not only to apply the best international practices of tolerant interfaith coexistence, but also to bring in new valuable ideas rooted in the spiritual centuries-old traditions of our people.

Recent developments including the latest crisis in the Caucasus have convincingly proven the existing need for establishing a new security system.

The aggravation of  global problems such as economic, financial, energy and food crises require new effective forms of cooperation of states and more active dialogue among religions.

We are convinced that the dialogue among religions can humanize relations in the society. It teaches its members to consider men and women of other religious and ethnic origins not as aliens but as equal, trustworthy partners.

Many religious leaders realize the need and importance of the interreligious accord and undoubtedly have been making efforts to this end.

In this respect the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions has become Kazakhstan's solid contribution to the global process of the intercultural dialogue. It has been a part of the world community's efforts on strengthening the principles of tolerance and mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation.

This Kazakhstan's initiative supported by the UN had perfect timing. Since then the Congress has been widely recognized by large international forums as the Alliance of Civilizations, Community of Sant' Egidio, Casa Asia, Tony Blair's Faith Foundation that expressed their willingness to participate in its work.

Recently the "Common world: progress through diversity" forum brought together diplomats from over 50 countries and international organizations, in Astana. This forum resulted with the Astana Declaration which outlined a shared vision and approaches to the acute problems of dialogue of the Muslim countries and the West.

At this stage the Congress has to face a new challenge to attain the status of a universal dialogue platform that may enable religious leaders and international organizations to hold constructive discussions on the problems of  modernity and finding ways of their solution.

Therefore, I would like to say a few words about the practical issues of the preparation for the upcoming third Congress.

At present, we are working on the idea put forward by President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the UN General Assembly last year about convening the third Congress under the aegis of the UN which would significantly contribute to growing importance and influence of our forum throughout the globe.

We suggest organizing the third Congress in an expanded format which could consist of plenary and panel sessions.

We would like to propose to define "The role of religious leaders in building a tolerant world in globalization" as the theme of the plenary session of the next Congress. We proceed from the fact that the globalization is one of the most important  factors influencing the development of the modern civilization. World religions have also been involved in this process and the Astana interreligious dialogue is meant to facilitate establishing a new form of global relations among universally recognized confessions.

At the panel sessions participants of the Congress would be able to discuss the following five themes which were defined at the VI Session of the Secretariat of the Congress, in September 2007, in Astana: Moral Values; Peace and Security; Environment and Harmony; Genuine Dialogue and Cooperation; and Promotion of Justice.

In our view this format would enable  religious leaders to exchange their views on urgent problems, voice theirs visions of the inter-confessional accord in certain countries and regions, give their assessments and recommendations in this area.

As an outcome of the III Congress we are proposing to adopt a joint Appeal of the Participants to the World Community which would contain a common call for peace and concord. We have drafted this Appeal and the draft will be distributed to you. We look forward to your proposals and amendments that I am convinced will improve and build on the contents of the document. 

As it is known, the II Congress decided to hold the next forum in September 2009. However, these dates coincide with major Muslim and Jewish religious holidays.

In this regard, we would like to propose two alternative dates for the III Congress in 2009: October 14-15 or July 2-3 just before the Day of Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The VIII Session of the Secretariat might be held 2-3 days prior to the Congress.

I hope that my proposals will serve as a useful starting point for our discussion and at the end of the Session we will have a clear and shared view of how to hold the III Congress.

I am convinced that the continued interreligious dialogue will make a significant contribution to the cause of promotion of spiritual values, the culture of peace, concord and tolerance in the new millennium.

I wish you a fruitful discussion, good experiences and a pleasant stay in our country.

Thank you for your attention.

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