Welcoming speech of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan M. Sh. Shaimiev to participants of the fourth meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic World”

27 October 2008

Welcoming speech of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan M. Sh. Shaimiev to participants of the fourth meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic World” which took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 27-29 October 2008.


Welcoming speech of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan M. Sh. Shaimiev to participants of the fourth meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic World”



Bismillyahi rahmanir-Rahim!


Ladies and gentlemen!


Let me, first of all, read out the message of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the participants of the Fourth Meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic world.”


“I welcome the participants of the Fourth meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic world.”


The development of Russia’s cooperation with Muslim states remains highly dynamic. A considerable role in this belongs to your group.


Russia, which has an observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, is committed to stay on course of expanding active interaction with the Islamic world. In this regard, I consider that a broad discussion of the initiative of King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud on the development of inter-religious dialogue is of fundamental importance, especially considering an important role of the religious factor in international affairs. At the same time I am convinced that the implementation of the Russian idea of a creation the Advisory Council of Religions under the UN will strengthen the moral principles in world politics, will promote the deepening of inter-religious dialogue, and more broadly – the dialogue of civilizations.


We are witnessing the fading of an illusion of the unipolar world. And forums like yours can make a significant contribution to the search for the ways of improving the situation in the world, achieving a new level of global partnership.


I am sure that active cooperation between Russia and Islamic world will contribute to building a more equitable system of international relations, where the power factor finally cease to play the role of a universal tool for solving all problems.


I wish the participants of the meeting a successful work and all the best. Dmitry Medvedev. The Kremlin, Moscow, October 26, 2008”
Let me express my sincere gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Islamic Holy Mosques, His Majesty Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz and through him to the brotherly people of Saudi Arabia for their attention and hospitality. I sincerely thank His Royal Highness, the Prince Mr. Saud al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the strong support for our forum. I thank His Excellency, the distinguished Dr. Jamil Mirdad, director of the Department of Islamic Affairs of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the first session of today’s important forum. I warmly greet all the participants of the fourth meeting of Group of strategic vision “Russia – Islamic world” in Jeddah, on the hospitable land of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is symbolic that we have gathered for the fourth time here, in the country of the Two Holy Mosques. The point is that just recently, in July of this year, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the head of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty King Abdullah on the Madrid Congress Interreligious Dialogue, organized by the League of Islamic world, reiterated the problems that are a priority for Group of strategic vision. I have to quote his words, which are the key for understanding of contemporary processes: “A person can cause the destruction of the planet on which he lives, but he can also turn it into oasis of peace and tranquility where followers of all religions and philosophical views will coexist, where people will cooperate with each other respecting each other, where they will solve their problems through dialogue, not violence.”


In recent years we have witnessed a significant development and strengthening of our cooperation both with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. We can say that Russia has clearly defined its strategic direction in the Muslim East. It has become a predictable partner with Islamic world. It is primarily a question of restoring the required level of trust and predictability in our relations, as well as the confidence that the desire to develop long-term cooperation with Islamic world – this is not a conjunctural moment for Russia. It should be borne in mind that for Muslim countries a strategic partnership with Russia, which tends to a multipolar world, and does not encroach on the values, traditions, identity and sovereignty of the states of the Muslim East, also is very important.


Our relations with the countries of the Muslim East in recent years have risen to a new level, especially after getting by Russia in 2005 an observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Here I have to say about the Republic of Tatarstan, which is rightly proud of its contribution to the development of relations between Russia and this influential international organization. Tatarstan acts as initiator of joint initiatives and projects. A number of projects operate in Russia; they make it possible to maintain our relations on a new level. This includes our Group of strategic vision, and the All-Russian Foundation for the Support of Islamic culture, science and education, and the development of new principles of cooperation with the Islamic Academy of Sciences, which is for the first time in its history has held its regular session in Russia – Kazan in the summer of 2008, International Festival of Muslim cinema “Golden Minbar”, by the way, it is being held in Kazan from 2005, and from 2007 it is being held under the motto: “Through a dialogue of cultures to a culture of dialogue.” The interest to the festival is growing from year to year, which is confirmed by the increase in the number of participating countries: if at the first festival in 2005, 40 films from 12 countries were presented, this year more than 200 films from 37 countries have already been announced at the Fourth Festival. I take this opportunity to invite filmmakers from your countries to participate in the Kazan Film Festival. Welcome!


Today, Russia is actively developing economic relations with the countries of the East. Under the new conditions, there are several areas for the release of our economic cooperation to a qualitatively higher level. Firstly, the development and implementation of long-term economic projects in which the Russian side provides a significant part of technology and production, and Islamic – a large share of investment, marketing and sales. Secondly, the involvement of investment funds of the Islamic Development Bank and other financial institutions of the Organization of the Islamic Conference for the creation industries with the participation of Russia. A significant event in this regard was International Investment Conference with the participation of representatives of the financial elite of the Islamic world’s leading commercial and industrial companies which was held in Kazan in June 2008, together with the Islamic Development Bank. Taking this opportunity I like to especially thank His Excellency the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference venerable Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and His Excellency, esteemed Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ali for fraternal support of our initiative, exclusive attention and kind cooperation.


During the conference Tatarstan has presented its economic potential and a number of investment projects in areas such as engineering, oil and petrochemicals, healthcare, construction of residential complexes and road infrastructure. It was the first event held in the country which is not a member of the OIC.


Once again, returning to the idea of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz to intensify the interreligious dialogue, I can say that we support it, because it is completely in line with our views on the prospects for inter-religious peace. Moreover, there is a centuries-old experience of coexistence of different religions in Russia. I am confident that our experience today is demanded throughout the world. It is, indeed, our wealth, the wealth which has been accumulated by joint labor of the multinational and multi-nation, for centuries living in Russia. Without a live communication between people professing different religions, without their respect and interest in each other there would not be the model of society in Russia, the existence of which we are talking about. And in Tatarstan we have an experience of civilized hostel of religions; it is one of the fundamental bases of development of the republic, the condition of its progress in the globalized world. And the world, we must say frankly, can learn something from us, including tolerance and thinking, a way of life.


Properly structured dialogue between the major monotheistic religions is able to have a significant impact on the strengthening of trust between peoples and cultures and not to allow extremists to push us to the path of the clash of civilizations. But so far very often we see and hear that many of the ethnic, political and military conflicts today are trying to associate with the religious factor, including Islamic. Here, in my opinion, it may be dangerous and often deliberate substitution of the socio-political and economic preconditions of extremism by religious reasons. Praise be to Allah, Islam is not blamed by inertia because of the financial crisis that hit the world economy in the last months. There are no reasons in Islam, as in other religions of the world, for the intolerance and hatred. At the same time it must be emphasized that if a religion becomes a token coin in the hands of various political forces, this means that religious leaders themselves do not work enough. So, they cannot yet quite clearly identify the religion’s place in the modern world, they cannot separate it from other phenomena of social life, ideology and politics. There is something to work on, and it is, in my view, an urgent task of the Muslim community. In this regard, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia quite rightly noted at the Madrid Congress of interfaith dialogue: “We must tell the world that differences should not lead to conflicts and confrontations, we must say that the tragedy of the past history of mankind occurred through no fault of religion but by the fault of extremism, because some followers of all monotheistic religions have become captives of it.” This idea is very close to us and coincides with our own approaches. Today, when the role of the religious factor significantly increases in many areas of human life, including the sphere of international relations, Russia has put forward the idea of creating The Advisory Council of religions for the maintenance “Alliance of Civilizations” under the United Nations, which would become a permanent platform for dialogue between religious leaders. I hope that our today’s joint forum will support this constructive Russian initiative.


Today the world is in the process of rapid radical changes. And here it seems that we are all interested in improving the efficiency of the UN’s role, which was established on the basis of a polycentric vision of the world. But at the same time today it is necessary to use the potential and institutions of the OIC more actively. Such of its organizations as the IRCICA, ISESCO are already actively cooperating with Russia, however, so far primarily in the form of scientific cooperation. But there are other areas that are perspective as well. Among them I would mention particularly the education system. In the 1990s, the Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia, have made a significant contribution to the training of cadres for Muslim umma of Russia. Today the system of Islamic education in our country is almost gets to its feet. It is trying to reach a new level of cooperation with the largest educational centers of the Muslim world. Thus, the Russian Islamic University, which was established 10 years ago in the Republic of Tatarstan, soon, will be the first in the country to become a member of the Federation of Universities of Islamic World (FUIW) with ISESCO. This means that there will be new opportunities for our universities. But the responsibility also increases, since it is necessary to cooperate on an equal footing, adopting the experience of each other. In the Muslim world there is real understanding and approval of major changes in the Russian system of Islamic education. This is shown by the fact that ISESCO has offered to hold an international conference on the problems of the quality of Islamic education in Kazan based on our Islamic University in 2009.


When we think about the processes occurring in the modern world, it is necessary to proceed from the fact that humanity is diverse ethnically, politically, culturally, so it must be balanced and multipolar. Today we are here, in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques, we have gathered in order to contribute to the formulation of a program of joint actions in the XXI century.


Once again, I thank the wise and far-sighted leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the initiative and organization of this forum. Hopefully, the new approaches, recommendations and proposals which were developed here by the participants of Group of strategic vision will be effective and will find their practical implementation.


I wish us all a successful and fruitful work.


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!