Religion forms the core of each culture and civilization while dialogue,
including interfaith dialogue, leads to awareness that all people inhabit
one and the same planet and that they all have the same merits despite
their racial, ethnic and gender differences, religious affiliation and
the choice of ideology. All people have the same rights and responsibilities
and share certain values.
Kazakhstan is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and Islamic, Christian
and Buddhist cultures. Historically, the territory of Kazakhstan has been,
for centuries, the meeting place of different religions and civilizations.
The population of our country is made up of representatives of more than
130 ethnic groups and 46 religious denominations. We in Kazakhstan believe
that the concepts of interfaith and interethnic accord and dialogue cannot
be considered in isolation. Without harmony in interethnic relations one
cannot expect serious dividends from the policy of enhancement of interfaith
It is for this reason that preservation of interfaith and interethnic
accord and tolerance is one of the priorities of our government's policy.
Since gaining its independence, Kazakhstan has been carrying out a balanced
state policy in the area of interfaith relations. Kazakhstan is a secular
state where religion is separated from the state. Yet the country has
created conditions for spiritual revival and has guaranteed constitutional
freedoms of worship and religion.
The initiative of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan A. Nazarbayev
to convene in Astana, our capital, a Congress of Leaders of World and
Traditional Religions has become Kazakhstan's tangible contribution to
interfaith and intercultural understanding, harmony and cooperation as
a mechanism to maintain regional and global stability.
The first Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions was
held in Astana in September 2003 and enjoyed support of representatives
of practically all world and traditional religions.
That event in Kazakhstan, in fact, provided a forum for religious leaders
who discussed the ways to use the spiritual and moral potential of world
religions to prevent international conflicts and to address global threats,
xenophobia and intolerance.
The first Congress adopted a Declaration proclaiming that its participants
were prepared to make every effort not to allow the use of religious differences
as an instrument of hatred and discord, in order to save mankind from
a global conflict of religions and cultures. The Declaration of the Congress
was circulated as an official document of the fifty-eight session of the
United Nations General Assembly (A/58/390-S/2003/916).
The second Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions will
take place in Astana in September of 2006. The Congress secretariat has
already approved its concept and theme, which is "Religion, Society and
International Security". The secretariat has also developed basic principles
of interfaith dialogue - integrity, tolerance, humility and mutual understanding.
The purpose of that dialogue should not be demonstration of superiority
of one religion over the other or elimination of differences between religions.
Work is under way to institutionalize the Congress of Leaders of World
and Traditional Religions. The objective is for the Congress to function
as a permanent international organization, which implements decisions
taken by influential spiritual leaders.
The city of Astana has launched a major construction project - a Palace
of Peace and Accord. That structure will house the headquarters of the
Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, an Institute of
Civilizations and a large theological library for global religious studies.
United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of important resolutions
promoting understanding, harmony and cooperation between religions and
cultures. Kazakhstan became co-sponsor of UN Resolutions: Promotion of
interreligious dialogue and cooperation for peace (A/60/L.4/Rev.1), which
reflect the desire on the part of the community of nations to promote
peace, tranquility, security and development on this planet through dialogue
between religions, cultures and civilizations. Kazakhstan co-sponsored
the Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace "Enhancing Interfaith
Dialogue and Cooperation Towards Peace in the Twenty-first Century", that
was held at the UN Headquarters in New York on June 22, 2005 (Report of
the Convening group of the Conference (A/60/269). Kazakhstan believes
that strengthening ties between the UN and various sectors of civil society,
including religious non-governmental organizations, is very important
for promotion inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
We supported the initiative to establish a consultative group consisting
of representatives of the UN member-countries, organizations of the UN
and NGOs to follow-up on the suggestions and recommendations of the Conference
and actively participate in its work.
During the UN Summit in New York Minister of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Mr. Kassymzhomart Tokaev participated at an
informal meeting of leaders on "Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation
For Peace" (statement).