5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations kicks off in Vienna

The 5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations kicked off in Vienna on February 27. The Forums aims to unite the international community against radicalism through inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered opening remarks. The event brought together high-level delegations from 136 countries and international organizations.

H. E. Edward Nalbandian’s Address at the 5th Global Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Vienna 2013

Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to join the previous speakers in congratulating Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser as the United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and wish him every success. I would also like to extend our thanks to the outgoing High Representative, President Sampaio for his leadership and excellent work.
I want to thank the Austrian Government for hosting the fifth Global Forum of Alliance of Civilizations in a city known for its historic multicultural traditions and for being a center of multilateral diplomacy.

Being the first Christian state in the world Armenia which is situated on the cross-roads of cultures and religions for centuries has had a unique opportunity of interaction with various civilizations. This inter-civilizational interaction has enriched our own culture and contributed to the others. One of the main benefits of such a millennium long civilizational inter-connection probably is the tradition of respect towards other cultures, religions and traditions which the Armenian nation has cherished.

Today 2/3rd of Armenian people live outside of their homeland. The survivors of the Armenian genocide are spread all over the world and today they inhabit more than a hundred countries – from France to Brazil, from Russia to Singapore, from the United States to Egypt, from Argentina to Canada, from Lebanon to India, from Iran to Australia. The Armenians created well-established, fully integrated communities, at the same time, with well-preserved national identity in four corners of the world. They leave a strong trace of Armenian culture on all those places they inhabit, as well as bear the cultures and traditions of those countries and civilizations. They act as a unique civilizational bridge between Armenia and the rest of the world. When we were organizing the Year of Armenia in France we presented our culture by showing Armenian cultural masterpieces collected from around 40 countries. This shows how deep the inter-civilizational relations can get in our world.

When we talk about promotion of civilizations and cultures, about multidirectional interactions among civilizations, such indispensable notions come to our mind as diversity, harmony and peace, which should go hand in hand, reinforce each other. Eventually, the comprehensive concept of peace lies at the foundation of the Alliance of Civilizations. Throughout history lack of peace and most notably large scale of violence destroyed and uprooted entire civilizations and cultures from their ancestral lands. The ideas of annihilating another culture and civilization would have never been able to materialize if there had not been breeding grounds cultivating hatred towards diversity in those societies. It is not surprising that during the Alliance of Civilizations’ previous Forum one of the points shared by participants was that peace-building requires trust-building.

In order to ensure an efficient management of diversity, we agree that a responsible leadership is an imperative and thus we welcome the particular focus of this Global Forum.

Responsible leadership in encouraging media pluralism and diversity of media content is widely known to encourage peaceful narratives in conflict affected societies. Firm adherence to this fundamental principle can positively impact on the conciliatory stance of populations. In Armenia we are encouraging media pluralism, an indicator of which is that our country is well ahead in the region according to the World Press Freedom Index.

While translating our international obligations and political commitments into actions there is a need for responsible leadership empowered by a strong political will. There is a need for a leadership initiating reconciliation processes; there is a need for a leadership courageous enough to build bridges between peoples rather than artificially creating dividing lines based on civilizational, cultural, religious and other differences.

Any attempt to add religious or ethnic essence to conflicts can result in dangerous consequences.

Even nowadays we sometimes witness expressions of intolerance and hatred which remind us of the Middle Ages. Instead of such attitudes, responsible leaderships could use differences between civilizations to enrich one another by promoting inter-cultural dialogue.

Respect and tolerance to other’s ethnicity, cultural and religious heritage is one of the prerequisites of harmonious and peaceful co-existence.

Armenia is joining the Group of Friends of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations with open mind and strong determination to work with member countries to advance the positive message of diversity and civilizational harmony.

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