On the sidelines of the Aitmatov Readings for a Dialogue of Cultures, Halit Eren, Director General of IRCICA, gave an interview to Ekaterina Podkolzina, Press Secretary of the Group of Strategic vision Russia-Islamic World.
- An international forum “Aitmatov readings” this year for the first time took place in Kazan. What are your impressions about his event?
- Kazan with its history of civilization, inter-faith harmony and peaceful coexistence was a very matching venue for the Forum “Aitmatov Readings” which underscores the theme of intercultural relations. With its high-level diplomatic and intellectual profile, Kazan Forum has been a fruitful new stage within Russia-Islamic World cooperation. It also formed a new dimension of the cultural contributions that came from Tatarstan and its region to the cooperation between Russia and the Islamic World. It can be recalled that the first congress titled “Islamic Civilization in Volga-Ural region” resulting from cooperation between cultural authorities and academic institutions of Tatarstan in the Russian Federation on one hand and IRCICA on the other, was held in 2001 in Kazan City. Afterwards the cooperation continued with congresses, studies, publications, research on historical archives, and translation of scholarly works, between Russian Federation and IRCICA. The results of these activities were disseminated to diplomatic and cultural circles in the Muslim world and beyond through IRCICA’s reports and publications and also by the scholars participating. This helped to reinforce cultural awareness and bridges between the Muslims in Russia and the Islamic world.
- Can, in your opinion, the creativity of Chinghiz Aitmatov unite different people and traditions, thus forming a dialogue of cultures?
- Aitmatov’s novels can help to unite people and build dialogue because besides being appreciated in the whole world for their literary importance they have a universal intellectual and spiritual appeal. With deep humanitarian perspective combined with powerful authorship he succeeds in bringing up all that is human and therefore common to all peoples. Through stories of individuals and societies of his region he not only uncovers memories shared at that local level but succeeds to create the awareness that peoples in their attitudes, thoughts or feelings are not different from each other even if geographically, culturally or linguistically apart. By reducing the barriers posed by cultural differences, his novels help to build understanding between peoples. This is the key to building dialogue. Coupled with this, with his diplomatic work he translated these perspectives into helping to promote intercultural relations and the functioning of the Group of Strategic Vision "Russia-Islamic world".
- In what directions, in your opinion, does the modern world community needs to work in order the "dialogue of cultures" continues its development and serve as an effective instrument for solving many conflicts?
- Initiatives are taken by states and international organizations to explore ways of developing the “dialogue of cultures”. Multilateral projects and consultation schemes are established by the United Nations agencies, the OIC and its subsidiary IRCICA, on how to manage international cooperation and which strategies to adopt in order to promote dialogue between cultures. IRCICA has been one of the most active international organizations in this field. One of the missions of IRCICA is to promote cultural communications and deeper understanding between peoples within and outside the Muslim world. With research and publications, we are producing references about Islamic civilization and Muslim cultures, their history and heritage, for the use of researchers and general readers. Producing these references is one aspect of the task. The second aspect is to encourage cultural interactions of peoples from different cultures, to help develop contacts and affinities among them. IRCICA’s symposiums, art festivals, training schools, all serve this aim. At the same time, IRCICA cooperates in this field with other international organizations. It organized sessions at global forums of the UN Alliance of Civilizations and conducted joint projects with the History Education Division of the Council of Europe on subjects concerning relations between different cultures and how to promote inter-faith and intercultural harmony. At present and in future, using the soft power of culture and cultural diplomacy appears to be the best way for promoting a dialogue of cultures.
- Readers of the Group 's website will be interested to learn more about IRCICA’s activities.
Please tell us about events the organization plans to hold in the nearest future?
- IRCICA has a large number of activity programs on different aspects of Islamic history and civilization, including research on regional histories, promotion of the arts and handicrafts, preservation of architectural heritage, library and archival studies. To cite those in the field of the history and heritage of Islamic civilization, we are preparing currently two congresses to be held before the end of this year. One of them is the international congress on “Islamic Civilization in Central Africa”, to be held in N’djamena, Chad. It will be the first to focus n Central Africa. During the last year we organized two congresses on the “History of Islamic Civilization in West Africa”, held in Nigeria and Niger respectively. The second congress in preparation is titled “China and the Muslim World: Cultural Encounters”. It will take place in Muscat, Oman. This is the fourth conference within our cooperation with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. IRCICA organized scholarly research and meetings in various regions from Southeast Asia to West Africa, from Volga-Ural to South Africa and these activities will continue.
Press-centre of the Group of strategic vision "Russia - Islamic world"