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Statement of Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Director General of the European Office of the United Nations Sergey Ordzhonikidze Print E-mail
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker of the Parliament, prominent religious leaders, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honor for me to attend the III Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. First of all, let me thank our generous hosts, President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for exceptional hospitality and commitment to interreligious dialogue and cooperation.

The Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon has attached particular importance to the meeting between representatives of all faiths, and for me it is a great pleasure to convey his message on the occasion. This message reads as follows:
“For me the great honor and pleasure for me to welcome all participants of the III Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. I thank President Nazarbayev and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the fact that they have gathered religious leaders from around the world in demand for such dialogue.

These universal values as tolerance, respect, understanding and equality of all people is the content of all religions, as well as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The similar aspiration for peace and dignity unites people of all religions. As one big family, we face common problems and challenges that can be overcome only if people of all faiths will make a contribution to addressing this matter.
Numerous crises and economic uncertainty poses challenges, threatening the cohesion of our countries. Extremists continue to reinforce their troops and set communities against each other. The need for mutual support and solidarity are manifested most acutely than ever.

As religious leaders you play an important role. You can demonstrate examples of restraint, dispel all the myths and misunderstandings and to open minds and hearts to mutual knowledge. As religious leaders, you can ensure the foundations of your religion to be not distorted and used as a means of forcing hatred and cruelty. As a unifying symbol, you can help your followers to cope with feelings of frustration and alienation, which can be used by extremists in their own selfish purposes.

The Alliance of Civilizations of the United Nations is a forum where religious leaders can build bridges between the parties concerned. I hope that our discussions will feed this initiative, which seeks to destroy the prejudices and overcome the polarization. Let's not limit or bound by our differences. Let’s, by contrast, focus on what unites us regardless of our faiths. I urge you all to spread this striking message of peace and goodness.

Please accept my best wishes for success in holding that Congress”.

It was the message of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Mr. President, Your Excellency, holding this Congress that have gathered today prominent religious leaders from many religions, is an important additional platform for dialogue between all religions. This is a unique venue where I would like to welcome achievements of the Government and people of the Republic of Kazakhstan as to creation of a multi-religious society, which offers the most applicable and favorable opportunities for our discussions. Multiple and various forms of Kazakhstan's participation in multilateral cooperation within the United Nations and other international organizations are recognized by the international community. The forthcoming chairmanship in the OSCE as an important achievement and recognition of this contribution.

While our dialogue plays an important role in development of tolerance and trust, it will not be finished. Our dialogue must contribute to development of the common context and plan for concerted actions to address our common problems. In overcoming many obstacles and challenges facing the United Nations, the religious leaders can play a significant role, especially in revival of awareness, protection of changes and, most importantly, a call for actions in support of our efforts in three principal operational areas: security, development and human rights. Helping the United Nations, you are helping your community.

Gathered here today in this magnificent hall, created in the likeness of the House of the United Nations Security Council, we can not speculate on the role of religious leaders as messengers and builders of peace.

Unfortunately, political differences continue to add fuel to the conflict around the world, leading to mutual mistrust between followers of different religions. Religion is often used as pretextes, applicable excuses, and even incitement. We must not allow to misuse our beliefs for political purposes.

We see examples of how religious leaders all around the world do not only preach peace, but they can, participate and actively participate in building peace and mutual respect. And this priceless work needs to be supported. Through their channels and the congregations religious leaders can encourage broad masses of population, support their morally, as well as build confidence between different groups, and even between irreconcilable factions, by means of immediate practical methods. They can dispel the myths about their religion and to ensure their followers will not be used to generate or maintain differences and contradictions. They can and should act as mediators in peace processes.

When the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in 2006, the member states of the United Nations have agreed that we need to challenge the conditions favoring the spread of terrorism. To defeat terrorism, religious leaders have undertaken certain obligations to ensure non-proliferation of stereotypes about any religion as about cruel or conducive to violence and cruelty. And they play an important role in preventing glorification or even justifying terrorist acts in their faiths.

Today, the world spend more than 1.4 billion USD on armaments. Even now, when we have already celebrated the 20th anniversary of the end of the Cold War, we face the threat of nuclear proliferation. But now we have the opportunity to accelerate the process of disarmament on bilateral and multilateral basis, because the U.S. and Russia are negotiating reductions in nuclear arsenals, and there has been some progress at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, as well as at the session of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference of the Parties of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Entry into force of the Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in Central Asia in March of the this year means one more positive step. This is the first region free of nuclear weapons, which was established in the northern hemisphere, and for the first time in history included the territory where were nuclear weapons formerly. The United States hopes that all parties concerned, including religious leaders, will support this motion.

All religions teach us that we are one big family and have a shared responsibility for our common future. Today all around the world more than one billion people live in extreme poverty with no prospects. The project “Millennium Development Goals” is our common development project. But we are moving less quickly and not so far as we had to move in implementation of this project. Numerous crises that we face, threatening progress and has undermined its progress. As history has shown such extremities, as exorbitant privileges and extreme poverty, inclusion and exclusion, can lead to social crisis, that is why we must be vigilant. Committed men and women should make a significant contribution by rallying people around a common goal, urging political leaders to adhere to this policy and mobilize themselves to perform tasks at the local level.

Research and experience show that climate change will have a huge impact on the most vulnerable countries and create difficulties for development. Religious leaders can redirect the collective attention and encourage each of us to take concrete actions. Climate changeis not only a deflection from the goals and objectives at the global level, but also changing our minds and habits at the local and personal level.

Recognition of the dignity and worth of each individual is the basic principle of all faiths. The same standards are prescribed in global international human rights laws. Without protection and support for human rights any dialogue and development are impossible. Interreligious dialogue is both expression and use of human rights, as well as the way to implement for everyone.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen! Education brings together all our efforts. We must get the attention of younger generation and those who have lost faith in themselves and sustainable future, and may be vulnerable to extremist manifestations. The need to strengthen educational activities in order to instill respect for history, culture and religion of others, becomes more relevant in the context of the economic crisis, which could exacerbate feelings of alienation and hostility. And that is why I supported your attention during these discussions, call for unity in terms of the crisis.

The Alliance of Civilizations of the United Nations has identified as the main purpose of its educational work countering stereotypes and combating discrimination among the the literate and illiterate, especially in classrooms and the media. In this context, support of leaders of religious communities is especially important for this initiative.

The United Nations is embodiment of the ongoing dialogue between culture and religion. Our organization was founded on the clear conviction that our diversity enriches us, when we meet each other, showing mutual respect currently. And in your deeds you attach some importance to these principles and life aspirations.

Let’s work together at all levels to preach the message of peace and to move towards development, while respecting the dignity of all people. Let's work together to implement the initiatives of the United Nations, for the benefit of all people and religions. In this regard, I wish the conference successful holding the Conference .

Many thanks to all of you.
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