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Russian-Backed Dialogue Among Civilizations Conference Underway in Greece

Call for Christian alliance against “militant liberalism”

Participant wants “UN Council of Civilizations”

US “responsible for the current discord in the world”

Yet more interfaith conferencing, at a convention of officials with unfeasibly long titles:

The Head of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thoughts (WAPIST) Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri said on Thursday that the US is responsible for the current discord in the world as well as wars and crises in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

…Chairman of the Committee of Trustees of the Center of the National Glory of Russia said that the ongoing conference is held in line with the initiative of the former Iranian president and Head of the International Institute of Dialogue Among Cultures and Civilizations, Seyed Mohammad Khatami, which was proposed in 2001.

Seriously, though, both men were speaking at the “Dialogue Among Civilizations” conference in Rhodes; the Islamic Republic News Agency has further details:

Ayatollah Taskhiri…made the remark while speaking to reporters on Thursday.

…In response to a question about the tools for conveying the message of clerics of various religions to the world heads of states, he proposed the idea of ‘globalized human understanding’.

“Open discussions among clerics of various divine faiths in the international gathering on ‘Dialogue among Civilizations’ in Rhodes island will facilitate such an idea,” he added.

Taskhiri urged the need for unity among the clerics of all religions and said that they should lay the foundation for extensive dialogues.

He referred to the policies of world arrogant powers as anti-peace and aiming to disrupt construction, which is dismissed by every religion.

…The five-day event is attended by 560 outstanding social and religious figures from 26 countries, including Iran, Russia, Greece, Uzbekistan, India and Yemen among others.

This comes just two weeks after a summit of world religious leaders in Kazakhstan (which I blogged here). Interfax covers the Russian contribution:

Deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Relations Vsevolod Chaplin has proposed the creation of a UN Council of Civilizations that would play a balancing role in relation to the Security Council.

“When somebody states that the aim of dialogue is an attempt to construct a social order in a country that the people have not chosen, then it is not a dialogue but a struggle for power,” Chaplin said at a roundtable at the “Dialogue between Civilizations” forum in Rodos, Greece.

The world should live under multiple political systems. “Discussion on this issue is developing and I think it cannot be called a vestige of the past, rather it is an image of the future,” he said.

A veiled reference to gay rights, probably. Orthodox Bishop Ilarion of Vienna and Austria developed that theme a bit more explicitly (bracketed material in source):

“The fact that the Russian Orthodox Church has already severed dialogue with the Episcopal Church [The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America] and the Church of Sweden [due to its approval of same-sex marriages] show that Christian society has begun to disintegrate…The existing abysm divides traditionalists and liberals rather than Orthodox and Catholics, Catholics and Protestants,”

I blogged the Russian-Sweden split here. Back to the Bishop:

…In this situation it is necessary to consolidate the efforts of all Churches that consider themselves to be “Churches of Tradition,” that is Catholics and Orthodox including pre-Chalcedonian [ancient Eastern] Churches, he said.

“…I am speaking about the need to conclude a certain strategic alliance, a pact, a union for between these Churches defending traditional Christianity – a defense against the challenges of modern times, be it militant liberalism or militant atheism,” he said.

This “Dialogue of Civilizations” is an expression of the World Public Forum, which was founded in 2002 by Vladimir Yakunin, Jagdish Kapur and Nicolas Papanicolaou, and inspired (as noted above) by Mohammad Khatami (the venture is separate from the UN’s “Alliance of Civilizations“, with which Khatami is also involved). The WPF’s website has further details:

In the course of the first session of the Forum was accepted the Rhodes declaration “Dialogue of civilizations for human order”. The Declaration included an appeal to continuation of discussion about mankind’s destiny and expressed wish to make this discussion an important factor in international situation:

“So much damage has already been done to the human system, and it is being backed by so much military power that this state of affairs cannot be transformed instantly. We have first to mediate, seek peaceful, non-violent and orderly solutions, which will fire the imaginations of vast society of people worldwide, to direct a trend towards a humane future for all”.

The World Public Forum in turn is a venture of the aforementioned National Glory of Russia. Yakunin is the head of both this organisation and of Russia’s state railway. Radio Liberty has further details:

Since 2001, Yakunin has also led the board of trustees of the St. Andrew’s Foundation, a powerful patriotic organization created in 1992 with the goal of advancing the ideology of national revanchism.

…The Kremlin is a routine and enthusiastic supporter of the foundation’s work, including its creation, in 2001, of the Center of Russian National Glory, of which Yakunin is also head [actually, the newer Center is described on its website as being the successor to the Foundation – RB].

The media has dubbed the center the “Order of Russian Orthodox Chekists” because of the preponderance of St. Peterburg-KGB alumni on its board of trustees: Defense Minister Ivanov; federal drug-control chief Viktor Cherkesov; and Georgy Poltavchenko, the presidential envoy to the Central Federal District

The center’s stated goal is the “revival of Russia’s grandeur.” It describes itself as a “nonpolitical, nonreligious” organization, but many of its activities appear to promote the ideological interests of either the Russian Orthodox Church, or the Kremlin, or both.

Its hallmark project is its annual “Dialogue of Civilizations” international forum, complete with the presentation of the International Prize of St. Andrew. Past recipients include UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura and Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Although hardly known, Yakunin has recently been tipped as Vladimir Putin’s successor. Putin himself held an inter-religious summit in Moscow back in July, at which Taskhiri and Chaplain said pretty much the same things as they’re now saying in Rhodes; I blogged on that event here.

3 Responses

  1. […] Russian-backed “Dialogue of Civilizations”, which dwelt on religion, in Cyprus (blogged here). The “Trio” also ran a Jewish-Muslim dialogue meeting last year: The forum entitled […]

  2. hellooo
    my name is anokye micheal frm ghana
    i will like to get details of ur coference and perhaps participate
    thx a lot

  3. […] previously blogged on the 2006 forum, with some further background, here. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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