2005-09-12 10:59:00

During Soviet times any word in defense of Russian history was interpreted as manifestation of great-power chauvinism

Vladimir Yakunin, chairman of the Patrons Board of the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation and the Center of Russia’s National Glory and president of the Russian Railways joint-stock company, speaks about the agenda and tasks of the forthcoming World Public Forum on Dialogue of Civilizations in an interview to Alexey Sosedov of Interfax-Religion.

- Vladimir Ivanovich, what is the peculiarity of the 3d session of the World Public Forum on Dialogue of Civilizations initiated by the Center of Russia’s Glory and St. Andrew’s Foundation?

- It is already for the third time that the session will take place in Rhodes Island; it will be held from October 5 to 9. In the period between the two forums, a very serious work has been carried out to implement the resolutions that were signed. We highly appreciate the fact that in recent times governmental officials have paid attention to the documents worked out by the forum. In particular, the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Administration made use of these documents to draft the document that was later signed by Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart. As a result of the work carried out, we expect highly representative delegations to come for the forum, its geographic representation to broaden to include representatives of Latin America and a very broad participation from the Arab East. To our knowledge, former president of Iran, Mohammad Hatami, is considering accepting my invitation to become co-chair of the World Public Forum.

The peculiarity of the forum’s work is that the participants are not some delegations but leaders of the scholarly, business and political community. And we expect a very serious discussion on the next stage we propose in the follow-up of our work, which can be formulated as transition from dialogue of civilizations through cooperation to inter-civilizational integration. This is a very interesting and complex theme to develop, and we should find the right distance between well-known studies on the globalizations, economics, politics and what we understand as inter-civilizational integration. This is the basis on which we propose to proceed.

- Could you tell us about the agenda of the forthcoming meeting?

- The agenda of rather comprehensive as about ten round tables are to work to consider interreligious cooperation, youth movements, possible ways of eliminating the tension of the Middle East. I would like to underscore that all these themes will be considered from the perspective of developing such a concept of inter-civilizational communication that would under no circumstances lead to fanning up inter-ethnic or inter-confessional discord.

- What is your assessment of the role that the forum has played in our country and abroad?

- We have set ourselves quite concrete tasks and our work is not associated with any globalistic ambitions. But in all fairness the work we carry out is beneficial for our country, for its citizens, because we a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country. All the problems involved in relations among various religions and peoples are important in the first place for us.

We have proceeded from the necessity to form one world community united by the awareness of one thing: from space the Earth looks inhabited by rational beings. No differences in the colour of skin or in religion can be seen from there. If we realize that it is our common home, in which different people live with different personalities and histories, who are doomed to share it, then we will preserve this home. If we do not realize it, we will simply destroy it and nobody will save it, neither Americans nor Jews nor Arabs nor Muslims nor Orthodox Christians.

We believe it extremely important precisely today, as indeed, very many things happen because they not called by their proper names. During Soviet times any word in defence of Russian history or any word for organizing our political establishment in favour of Russia or the Russians was interpreted as a manifestation of great-power chauvinism. At the same time, when the really existing nationalism was at point, it was argued that any infringement on national feelings could not be allowed.

There are things which are inadmissible. It is inadmissible to talk about the superiority of one nation or civilization over another, as everyone is born to live on the earth. It is inadmissible to tolerate the oppression of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic, etc. The question arises: Why the advocates of human rights and freedoms ignore the developments in the Baltic states? - Because it is beneficial to do so politically. But then it is a dirty policy, which has nothing to do with the dialogue of civilizations. Then they have no right to speak for the civilized communities.