Rede von Außenminister Michael Spindelegger beim Jahresforum der Allianz der Zivilisationen in Rio de Janeiro (nur Englisch)
Alliance of Civilizations
Third Global Forum/ Ministerial Meeting
Rio de Janeiro, 28-29 May 2010
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Austria
Dr. Michael Spindelegger
Check against Delivery!
Mr. President [PGA Treki]
High Representative [Jorge Sampaio]
Ladies and Gentlemen,
[Thanks and general remarks]
Austria thanks and congratulates Brazil for the organisation of the Third Annual Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations and for your great hospitality. It is very timely to have the Forum here in Brazil and in Latin America as it shows us the importance of a POLYLOGUE of a great variety of cultures, traditions and narratives reaching out even to Africa and the Caribbean. This Forum clearly demonstrates that we globally share a vivid interest in the dialogue of cultures as an effective instrument to tackle the challenges we face in a globalised world today.
[AoC, dialogue, Latin American context]
Our generous host, Brazil displays in its slogan “Um País de todos” – meaning “a country of everybody” - that cultural and religious diversity is not only a vision but an existing, lived reality. This captures perfectly why we are here and why we need to talk and listen to each other. Instead of being afraid of differences, diversity should be seen as a clear factor of enrichment.
The EU-Latin American-Caribbean Summit in Madrid last week has clearly shown the necessity for better cooperation and networking of all partners. The lively discussions here in Rio amply prove that we can and should capitalise on the full political, social, cultural and economic potentials of our pluralistic and diverse societies in order to make education, jobs and prosperity accessible to all our citizens.
[Austrian perspectives; Arab-European Young Leaders Forum; Integration and Muslim communities in Europe and Austria]
let me give you some Austrian perspectives. At the core of our engagement in dialogue lies our major interest in human rights, pluralism and successful diversity management. In this context, we have particularly focused on fostering equal rights and opportunities for men and women and looked at ideas and mechanism on how to engage young people. The key question is: How to foster “responsible leadership”, how to make young people from different fields contribute to innovative change and development of societies? In November 2010, we will try to find an answer by hosting the First Arab-European Young Leaders Forum in Vienna. We aim to create an institutionalised forum in order to connect emerging leaders in politics, civil society and business from Europe, Turkey and the Arab world and to make participants effectively co-operate.
The integration and participation of Muslim communities in Austria and Europe is for us one our key challenges. We try to find cutting-edge solutions to these pressing issues. Some examples: We have established a full-fledged university master’s programme entitled "Islamic religious pedagogy" to train teachers of Islam for secondary schools in Austria. This should support the provision of Islamic religious education meeting European standards in public schools and, in the long run, the establishment of faculties of Islamic theology, as well as imam training programmes at European universities and teacher training colleges. Another good example is the imam-training programme my ministry initiated and co-sponsored. It aims at providing imams coming from abroad with the necessary qualification for successful integration and dialogue. We look for partners who help us in charting the course for the development of a common polity in Europe.
[Challenges for the AoC]
Let me briefly address some challenges the Alliance of Civilizations clearly faces. Our global tasks have become much bigger and more sophisticated than what has been expressed by so called “Islam-West divide”. Putting dialogue on the firm basis of human rights, in particular freedom of religion and speech, Austria believes that we have to stand united against the spread of negative stereotyping, prejudices and discrimination on all sides and in all regions. The dialogue of cultures needs a broader perspective and engagement: How can we make effective use of ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism to foster prosperity and development, how can we make our societies and communities more inclusive for the common good for all?
The Alliance of Civilizations should therefore provide a global platform to address these and other thematic issues and seek to define an approach based on concrete projects and the exchange of good practices.
[Austria hosts Fifth Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations in 2012/2013]
Finally, I have the great honour to reiterate Austria’s offer to host the Fifth Annual Forum of the AoC in Vienna, presumably in 2012. We are proud to do so given our longstanding tradition of being a widely recognised dynamic hub for dialogue, co-operation and peace.
What appears to be important is to build and reinforce the Alliance as a global platform bridging continents and spanning the entire world. The Alliance has made good progress to bring more countries on board. The challenge for the development of the AoC lies in its more global outreach, overcoming the Islam-West focus, and in drafting a new geography of the mind. Hence, we need to get all our partners more intensively involved in the Alliance of Civilizations and make all regions of the world become one area of common interest and shared perspective for reform and cooperation.
Thank your for your attention!