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Address by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, at the 7th Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Baku, April 26, 2016

Dear Heads of Delegations and participants of the Forum,

At the very outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the people and leadership of Azerbaijan for their impressive hospitality.

I also pay tribute to High Representative Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser for the wise guidance of the Alliance.

We are living in a time of turbulence and upheavals. People’s hopes for a peaceful life in the 21st century have not become the case. Arms race is raging, wars and conflicts are undermining global security.

In this context I would like to draw your attention to the Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” issued recently by the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev. This unique political document offers guiding principles that the international community needs to comprehend and follow to avoid global turmoil. First, we should realize that there are no winnersin a war today. Second, a new war will inevitably result in the use of weapons of mass destruction. Third, peaceful dialogue and constructive negotiations should serve as the main tool to resolve all interstate disputes. With this in mind, Kazakhstan calls on to build a world free of nuclear weapons, to maintain and promote enduring peace, to eliminate military blocs that eventually impede broader international cooperation, to adjust international disarmament process to new historical realities, to adopt fair principles of global competition in international finance, trade and development.

The UN Alliance of Civilizations has an important role to play to fight the virus of militarism which has contaminated the minds of the people. The war menace undermines the main UN goals, i.e. to promote peace and security, to foster international cooperation, to ensure sustainable development and respect for human rights. Peaceful coexistence of cultures, traditions, religions and civilizations can and should be our most effective response to any attempt to jeopardize international security.

Kazakhstan being a home to over 100 ethnic groups has been committed to preserving and enriching cultural diversity. In harsh times of famine, repressions and mass deportations in the early and mid 20th century mutual support of people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds was strong spiritual glue for our nation. Despite hardship the Kazakh people were cordial and hospitable to the deportees.

“Unity in Diversity” is the motto that bonds together our society. For over 20 years the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan, an institution entrusted with constitutional powers, has been successfully ensuring interethnic accord. The work of the Assembly can serve as a good example of “living together in inclusive societies”.

The lack of trust and mutual understanding is the key challenge that we all face nowadays. Therefore we pin our great hopes on the Alliance of Civilizations especially because it spreads out true values of human civilization among youngsters. Industrial revolution and fundamental economic shifts require the young generation having a new vision free from any prejudice, hostility and confrontation. Inaction may lead to indifference, ignorance, antagonism, hatred and extremism.

It is not enough to adopt declarations and appeals while addressing extremism. We have to act broadly and firmly in response to this dangerous and swelling tumor. Our action should include the enactment of laws. We may continuously repeat that religion and violence are incompatible, and this statement is true. Yet it should be recognized that under the guise of religion human rights are abused, acts of terrorism, kidnappings and vandalism are committed. Therefore Kazakhstan contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

Since 2003 on the initiative of the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev Astana city has been hosting the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions bringing together religious leaders and politicians. UN Secretary-General, a number of heads of state and government as well as of international organizations attended the Congress.

We know that a similar forum, the World Summit of Religious Leaders, was successfully held in Baku under the patronage of the President of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliyev.

Going back to the Congress in Astana, we are hosting the Conference “Religions against Terrorism” on May 31, 2016 for the first time to bring together both parliamentarians and representatives of world religions.

In today’s world where religion plays an ever increasing role traditional diplomacy needs to be adjusted.

I express my sincere hope that the 7th Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations will make constructive decisions and inputs to promote peace and prosperity of all people. In this regard, we all need to discuss issues that are related to the very substance of the forum, that unite us, not to use it as a platform for making statements on international problems which split us.

Thank you very much.

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