I would like to welcome an initiative to convene the World Religious Summit. Amidst growing religious intolerance and calls for hatred and discrimination, it is important for the top leaders of world religious communities to resolutely denounce such processes and speak in favour of dialogue.
Dialogue is the only way to eradicate intolerance and foster mutual understanding. Openness and dialogue are common values shared by all world religions. I am confident that Europe shares them too.
Promoting dialogue between different cultures and religions dialogue is a crucial task facing the Council of Europe as it campaigns for human rights and democracy. The solution of this task is important both on the European and global scale. As an organization uniting forty-six states and established to protect fundamental values, the Council of Europe bases its activities on respect for differences, their common denominator being general human values.
Encouraging the intercultural and interreligious dialogue is among the top priorities on the agenda of Russia’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe Ministerial Committee (CEMC). This dialogue is needed for consolidation of all people living in Europe, which is becoming an increasingly polyethnic and multiconfessional society. For this reason, Europe cannot shut itself within its borders. Rather, it should be open for dialogue with all cultures and religions. This is an objective of the international conference ‘Dialogue between cultures and interreligious cooperation’ to be held within Russia’s chairmanship of the CEMC in Nizhniy Novgorod from 7 to 9 September 2006.
I wish you fruitful discussions and hope that your Summit would formulate ideas and initiatives that could be supported by the Council of Europe.
July 3, 2006