Georgia Symposium Stresses Need for Dialogue in Caucasus

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JWF’s Intercultural Dialogue Platform co-organized a symposium titled “Globalization and Dialogue between Civilizations” in Tbilisi, Georgia, on September 30 – October 1, 2004. Attendees included scientists and journalists from the USA, Russia, Iran, Australia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, France, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, and Italy.

We should strengthen the intercivilizational dialogue by organising such symposiums. There is no religion on Earth which rewards animosity, terror, and violence.

Allahshukur Pashazade, chairman of the Caucasian Union of Muslims

The symposium focused on why dialogue was “needed more than ever” in the Caucasus, a region on Turkey’s northeastern border that includes countries such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The event was primarily organized by the Presidency of Georgia. Other organizers included the Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II, the International Black Sea University, JWF’s IDP, UNESCO, the Giorgi Tsereteli Eastern Institute of Sciences, and the Georgian International Contribution to Education and Solidarity in Business Life Foundation.

As one of the event’s speakers, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili expressed his satisfaction that the symposium was being held in Tbilisi. “Here, all religions can live together,” he said. “Georgia is showing the world that it is possible to live without ethnic and religious conflict.”

President Saakashvili added that he wished the relations between Georgia and Turkey could be an example for other countries. He explained, “Turkey gave a helping hand from the very first day Georgia won its independence. Twelve years have passed since then and our relations continue just like before.”

President Saakashvili also said that he hoped Turkey would gain entry into the European Union and that Turkey would receive a negotiation date in December. He added that the issue was of great importance to Georgia, as well.

Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II spoke of the theory of the “clash of civilizations” and how he did not find it convincing.

Allahshukur Pashazade, chairman of the Caucasian Union of Muslims, called attention to the fact that people live in the same world despite having different languages and religions. Pashazade said, “We should strengthen the intercivilizational dialogue by organising such symposiums. There is no religion on Earth which rewards animosity, terror, and violence.”

Scholar Fethullah Gulen was unable to attend the symposium due to illness, but he sent a message that was read out by JWF President Harun Tokak. He stressed that nations today are coming closer to one another thanks to information and communication, and he called for greater union and togetherness. Gulen stated:

“I believe and hope that, contrary to what is being feared, the new millenium promises a happier, more fair and compassionate world, at least when compared to previous centuries. Yes, it is being observed that positive results are being yielded by the initiatives for dialogue that commenced among Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, which have lived as rival religions for centuries despite stemming from the same root, possessing the same fundamental principles and being nourished from the same source, and such initiatives developed in a way to include even the old Indian and Chinese religions.”

In addition to Tokak, JWF’s IDP was represented at the symposium by the following leaders:

  • Cemal Usak, Vice President, The Journalists and Writers Foundation
  • Ilber Ortayli, Prof. Dr., Gazi University
  • Kemal Karpat, Prof. Dr., Wisconsin University, USA
  • Busra Ersanli, Prof. Dr., Researcher
  • Huseyin Gulerce, Journalist
  • Oral Calislar, Journalist

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