World Public Forum Dialogue of Religions Holds Conference in Berlin

Last week, the World Public Forum Dialogue of Religions held a conference in Berlin, on “Integration and Identity in the Global Society”. According to a pre-conference blurb:

The President and Founder of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilization” Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin, the Prime Minister of GDR (retired) Dr. Lothar de Mezier, German Bundestag (Parliament) deputy Franz Thunnes, Chairman of the Youth Association of the ruling CDU Party in Germany Philipp Missfelder, and other top level experts will give speeches as a part of the conference in Berlin.

I’ve blogged on the WPF previously; it  arranges high-level international conferences on inter-religious dialogue and has links to a Russian Orthodox organisation. There are three co-chairmen:

The Forum is headed by the Council of Co-chairmen, which consists of the WPF Founder and President Vladimir Yakunin (Russia), President of Titan Capital Corporation Nicholas Papanicolaou(USA/Greece), and former federal Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer. The late Jagdish Kapur(1920– 2010), President of the Kapur Surya Foundation (India), was the Co-chairman and Founder of the WPF.

Yakunin is a close ally of Vladimir Putin, and back in March he was described by the Moscow Times as “the Kremlin’s model ‘Orthodox businessman'”. Papanicolaou is a curious figure: while in Europe he hob-nobs with elite mainstream politicians, back in the USA he identifies with the neo-Pentecostal Christian Right, in particular Rick Joyner and William “Jerry” Boykin. He is also the author of a book, published by Joyner, entitled Islam vs the United States, and Joyner and Boykin are both members of a chivalric order of which Papanicolaou is the “Grand Master”.  I surveyed this rather odd association – which Joyner uses to boast of links to Europe – here.

Gusenbauer, meanwhile, received an award from the WPF back in 2008; in March, the same award was presented by Yakunin to the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ahead of elections that saw Nazarbayev re-elected with 95.5% of the vote (Nazarbayev had been due to step down due to constitutional term limits, but he reluctantly bowed a petition from “ordinary citizens” to stay on for a third decade). As the WPF website explains:

The Award is given to political, intellectual and spiritual leaders who follow the ideas of justice and unity, to people who strongly contribute to the strengthening of peace and consent among the nations. Among the laureates of the Award there are such outstanding leaders as former Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Gusenbauer and Nazarbayev also have other links: in 2010 the Austrian business magazine Format reported that Gusenbauser had become a “consultant” to the Kazakh leader:

Wie FORMAT aus hochrangigen Brüsseler Kreisen erfuhr, ist Gusenbauer Teil ­eines neuen Beraterstabs rund um den 70-jährigen Nasarbajew, zu dem auch Deutschlands ehemaliger Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder, Italiens früherer Ministerpräsident Romano Prodi und Polens Expräsident Aleksander Kwasniewski zählen. „Ja, ich stehe der kasachischen Regierung und somit dem Präsidenten als Berater zur Verfügung“, bestätigt Gusenbauer. Über seine neuen Kollegen will er aber lieber nicht reden, nur so viel: „Präsident Nasarbajew holt sich sicher nicht irgendwelche Leute in sein Team.“

Just last month, Gusenbauer was a “guest of honour” (alongside former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Tony Blair, and Romano Prodi) at a Foreign Investors Council (FIC) meeting in Astana. The meeting took place at the inevitably-named Nazarbayev University.

Another link goes back to 2007, when Gusenbauer was chancellor and the Kazakh ambassador to Austria was Nazarbayev’s then son-in-law Rahat Aliyev. Aliyev now lives in Austria in exile; while in office, he was accused of criminal activity in Kazakhstan and his wife divorced him. Nazarbayev telephoned Gusenbauer to facilitate his extradition, but Gusenbauer “informed the caller that he had no jurisdiction over Austrian courts.” Aliyev was accused of abducting two bankers, and the bankers’ bodies were discovered “stuffed into metal barrels and covered with quicklime” just last month. Aliyev “denies any connection with the men’s deaths”.

4 Responses

  1. […] and he is known as a confidante of Vladimir Putin and as a keen promoter of Orthodoxy. Like other events organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum, the conference appears to have been […]

  2. […] religious figures, and politicians. One of the co-chairmen is former Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer; Gusenbauer is also a “consultant” to Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev (Tony […]

  3. […] those involved with the Forum is former Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer, who represents another link to Nazarbayev, as well as various dignitaries and academics. The Forum also has links with the US […]

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