TEHRAN (Iran News) – The 19th session of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was held in Nur-Sultan, the capital city of Kazakhstan, on Wednesday October 6 where it was decided the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions to be held in Nur-Sultan on September 14-15, 2022.
Before the secretariat meeting on Wednesday, workgroups of the secretariat in different brainstorming meetings on Tuesday prepared the grounds and topics on the agenda for the session.
On Wednesday the 19th session of the Secretariat was held where the date for holding the 7th Congress was fixed and the participants determined the format of the final document of the congress and also adopted the protocol of the 19th meeting of the Secretariat through a declaration.
The session of the Secretariat was chaired and kicked off by welcoming speech of the Kazakh Senate Speaker and Head of the Secretariat of the Congress Mr. Maulen Ashimbayev. Addressing the participants in the session, Ashimbayev said Kazakhstan has its own model of peace and interfaith dialogue.
He said, “This year Kazakhstan marks 30th anniversary of independence. Over the past years the country built its own model of peace, national unity and interfaith dialogue. The model built by First President of Kazakhstan – Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev proved its efficiency and viability. Today Kazakhstan led by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev follows its policy to ensure interethnic and interfaith consent. That’s why holding the Secretariat and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions is not an image-building event but an organic and integral component of the country’s development model.”
He noted that the Congress is unique event in the international agenda and the real tool of global interfaith dialogue. Over the years of independence Kazakhstan founded its own model of peace and national dialogue based on principles of unity in diversity and common responsibility for the country’s future, respect and enforcement of rights of citizens, despite their ethnic and religious identity.
In a conclusion he expressed his deepest gratitude to all for their participation and supporting of the forum.
Meanwhile Chairman of the Board of Nursultan Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue Bulat Sarsenbayev highlighted the role of the First President of Kazakhstan who played in the development of inter-faith accord in the country and beyond.
While speaking at the session of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, Sansenbayev paid attention to the fact that practically all speakers mentioned Nursultan Nazarbayev’s role in the gradual promotion of international dialogue in the sphere of inter-civilizational, inter-religious and inter-faith relations.
“The convocation of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions is a fundamental contribution of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan-Elbasy, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to the global peace and security,”Sarsenbayev said.
According to him, Elbasy succeeded in turning the inter-faith and inter-ethnic diversity of Kazakhstan and its people into one of its fundamental strengths.
Then Secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims and bureau chief for Islam at the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue Monsignor Khaled Akasheh addressed the session.
He stressed that pandemic gave humanity, countries, religious communities and all some opportunities to learn about existing viruses, restrictions and shortages in many spheres of our lives, such as healthcare, economy, social solidarity and unity. He said that religious leaders and their communities demonstrate solidarity to those hit by pandemic.
He also expressed gratitude to First President of Kazakhstan -Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev for initiating and supporting the Congress.
“The President of Kazakhstan, (Kassym-Jomart) Tokayev, for many years headed the Secretariat contributing his wisdom and talents to the noble calling of interfaith and intercultural dialogue,” he resumed.
The session of the Secretariat was attended by representatives of world religions and confessions from 20 countries, as well as representatives of international organizations that some of them attended the event virtually. In their speeches religious leaders noted the high importance of the work carried out by Kazakhstan to establish interreligious and interfaith dialogue not only within the country but also at the international level.
In particular, the High Representatives of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Angel Morantinos, stressed the importance of the Congress in terms of discussing the role of religion in society and interaction at the international level to build a sustainable and secure world.
He said, “The unique platform that this initiative provides will constitute a key opportunity for representatives of governments, religious leaders, international and regional organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to reflect collectively about the challenges for the interreligious, dialogue, and sustainable peace in peace in increasingly polarized world. The UN Alliance of Civilizations will play an active role during the VII Congress.”
Meanwhile The Islamic Republic of Iran’s representative from its Islamic Culture and Relations Organizations Ms. Zahra Rashid Beigi, addressing the session, hailed Kazakhstan for its initiative and called it a step towards peace and security, adding that she is happy that her country passed safely through all economic, sanctions and security wars. She reiterated that today’s world not only needs religious leaders but also needs political leaders because cooperation between them and support from governments can lead to the peace. She also hailed efforts of for Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev’s efforts for this initiative and his efforts for cooperation between political and religious leaders. She also supported the Astana International Award for Contribution to Inter-Faith Dialogue and the Medal of Honor of the Congress, reiterating that launching such awards show how much Kazakhstan takes the matter seriously.
She went on to say that reinforcement of ties between the religions can help humanity, adding that putting an end to war is duty of the religious leaders and they should help. She said that peaceful and responsible talks play important role in restoring peace and justice in the world and all men are responsible for the humanity and they should stand beside each other and repel extremism. She then hailed the Nazarbayev Center for encouraging detent and resolving differences among religions.
Following the outcomes of the 19th session of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Nur-Sultan, its participants highlighted the significance of Kazakhstan’s unique model of inter-ethnic and inter-faith development and the role of the First President of Kazakhstan-Elbasy, Nazarbayev, in the promotion of global inter-civilizational and inter-religious dialogue.
It is crucial to further effectively use the opportunities and potential the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions offers, added Ashimbayev.
He said that this forum has turned into an international platform for discussion on the most pressing issues. The Congress, in his words, sets the example of development of inter-cultural dialogue, strengthening of peace and greatly contributes to enhancing inter-faith tolerance.
Ashimbayev reminded that the Congress was for the first time convoked in 2003 at the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan-Elbasy, Nazarbayev. President Tokayev attaches great importance to fruitful work of the platform as well.
“Since the very first days of its work this platform has brought together representatives of many confessions. Our forum has always been supported by the most reputable spiritual leaders and top politicians. It is crucial to further effectively use the opportunities and potential the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions offers,” he stressed.
After adaptation of the protocols of the meeting of the Secretariat, it was announced that the 20th meeting of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will be held prior to the Congress on September 12-13,2022, in Nur-Sultan. The 7th Congress of Leaders and World and Traditional Religions is also decided to be held on September 14-15, 2022, in the capital of Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile on October 5 and prior to the session of the secretariat, Chairman of the Management Board of N. Nazarbayev Center for Development of Interfaith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue Sarsenbayev in an interview with reporters highlighted the goals of the center.
He said the 7th Congress of Leaders and World and Traditional Religious due to the COVID-19 pandemic was postponed to next year and the secretariat is preparing the necessary plans for it. He said the secretariat began its work in 2003, adding that after the September 11 terrorist attack, the then Kazakh President Nazarbayev raised this initiative for holding the congress of religious leaders and its secretariat was set up.
Sarsenbayev added that Kazakhstan in its young history has proved that it can hold such important and big conferences and for this reason it has won trust of the countries and nations and for this reason the number of participants in the congress is on the rise. He said other countries are also seeking to hold such gatherings but Kazakhstan has been the first.
He said that the congress has been a unique platform for bringing together leaders of religions and it was because of initiative of Mr. Nazarbayev. He added that the new Kazakh President Mr. Tokayev has also followed the path of Mr. Nazarbayev as he once was Nazarbayev’s vice-president.
He then pointed to the current condition of Kazakh population and said over 100 religious and ethnical groups exist in the country and they are free to have their own beliefs but the government does not let any radicalism in the country according to the laws. He said on the past 30 years the country has been administered based on this model of unity and without any rift. He said President Tokayev is a veteran politician and has enough experience to continue the path.
He said Kazakhstan is the secretariat of the congress and it allocated an especial building for it in 2006, and after the Sixth Congress, the building was named after Mr. Nazarbayev and it was named Nazarbayev Center for Development of Inter-Faith and Inter-Civilization Dialogue.
He noted that the center is evolving and it is after finding better ways to improve the programs, adding that the Congress by itself has been a successful issue and during the past 18 years its members have been on the rise and its quality has improved while influential religious leaders partake in it.
He reiterated that the center invites respectable religious leaders to the congress and the government has also supported it.
For the first time, the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was convened on September 23-24, 2003 on the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
And the last Congress was held in October 2018. It is held every three year but this year due to the pandemic it was postponed to 2022. However, the session of Secretariat is held every year.