JOINT FORUM: "The Middle East Conflict Must Be
dialogue should promote acceptance of "otherness".
(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.
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.
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.
* * * * *
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Special thanks to Nusret Ozgul,