We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else can we go to?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

OIC-EU JOINT FORUM: "The Middle East Conflict Must Be Settled..."

"Inter-cultural dialogue should promote acceptance of "otherness".
Walter Schwimmer
(Strasbourg - 13.02.2002)

The "dialogue among civilizations" and problems connected with "being different" were at the centre of discussions on the second day of the European-Islamic Forum today in Istanbul. Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, who was invited to chair the third panel titled "Who is the Other? Does he or she really exist?", stressed the need for promoting the diversity of cultures and religions, centred on common values.

"For too long the other was the person to be excluded, the enemy. Through dialogue, we must promote acceptance of `otherness' and common values existing in all cultures. There is a constant need for dialogue between Europe and the broader Mediterranean area," he said.

"But this process should not be limited to dialogue alone. It should go beyond to include such key elements as education - education at schools, history teaching, education in democratic citizenship and tolerance," Mr Schwimmer continued. "Through such initiatives, we would create a culture of trust, mutual understanding of common goals. The Council of Europe is ready to contribute. Indeed it already does, not least through the North-South Centre and the Parliamentary Assembly. We are anxious to join forces with EU, UN, OSCE, OIC, and the Arab League," he added.

* * * * *

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OIC Member and Observer Countries and the EU Member and Candidate Countries came together, on 12-13 February 2002, for a Joint Forum in Istanbul at the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Turkey, to share their assessments of the world's present political situation and to promote understanding and harmony among civilizations.

History has taught us that the lack of mutual knowledge and respect among civilizations can greatly affect world stability and peace. Harmony and welfare are nurtured when different peoples make communication a priority, taking the time to express and listen to each other's views and interests, acknowledging and tolerating differences, while at the same time seeking out commonalities that can help build strong relationships that promote political and economic cooperation.

The tragic events of September 11th and their repercussions have shown the need to strengthen tolerance and understanding among different cultures to avoid reappearance of deeply rooted prejudices that can surface. The horrifying attacks of September 11th are purely brutal acts of terrorism and they cannot be explained or justified for religious, cultural or any other reasons whatsoever. On the other hand, September 11th has also sparked a  growing consciousness of the need for all sides to discuss and attempt to better understand the differences in perceptions, values and interests, as well as to promote tolerance and appreciation for cultural diversity among them. We jointly have a responsibility to address and resolve issues which can lead to divisions within and between our communities, to embrace and value our diversities, and to promote and uphold the values we all share.

During its deliberations, the OIC-EU Joint Forum has acknowledged the various activities, resolutions, recommendations and reports of international and regional organizations, such as the UN and the UNESCO, the QIC, the EU, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Arab League, the Organization of African Unity and other fora as the Barcelona Process, including the Global Agenda on Dialogue Among Civilizations adopted by the UN General Assembly on 21 November 2001, which are designed to protect and improve the common heritage of mankind and the shared values of different cultures, and to enhance tolerance, dialogue and cooperation within and among nations and peoples.

In the course of discussions the following points were agreed upon:

-The Forum reaffirms its strong belief that cultures, in their diversity, complement and enhance one another. The Forum also confirms its belief in the harmony among civilizations and in its attainability.

-The main means to support coherence and solidarity and to avoid racial, religious and cultural prejudices is to enhance our knowledge of one another through communication and cooperation for the promotion of common universal values, such as those enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international human rights instruments. To this end the two political organizations, the EU and the OIC have a joint responsibility to contribute to the achievements of these goals.

-The Forum affirms that terrorism cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever. It recognizes the joint responsibility to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations within the framework of the UN, in conformity with its Charter and its resolutions.

-The OIC and EU countries are committed to defining problems emerging from cultural prejudices and political and economic injustices and to promoting solutions that will contribute to universal peace, welfare and stability.

-The Forum underlined that for peace, stability and harmony to prevail, the Middle East conflict must be settled in a just and comprehensive manner and in accordance with international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions. In this context, the "two state" solution will contribute to bring peace and security to the peoples concerned.

-The OIC-EU Forum, having listened to the exchange of ideas and to participants' views, has concluded that there is a need for further cooperation. The Forum proposes that existing bilateral and multilateral frameworks continue to be used for general debate on the issues raised during this meeting.

-The Forum noted with appreciation the invitation of His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar in his capacity as current Chairman of the OIC to host a OIC-EU Troika meeting in the second half of the current year, in Doha.

-The Forum thanked the Government of Turkey for the initiative and effort in organizing this Forum that constituted an event of great political significance. They welcomed Turkey's intention to publish the compte rendu of the OIC-EU Joint Forum and its readiness to facilitate communication among the participating countries and organizations if the need arises.


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Special thanks to Nusret Ozgul, Brussel

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We have been celebrating our 2nd ANNIVERSARY with the Winter-2002 issue.
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