Rede von Vizekanzler und Außenminister Michael Spindelegger anl. der Eröffnung des Internationalen König Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Zentrums für interreligiösen und interkulturellen Dialog (nur Englisch)
Wien, 26. November 2012
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort
Secretary General of the United Nations,
Your Royal Highness,
Foreign Minister of Spain,
Chief Rabbi Goldsmith,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my great pleasure to address this distinguished audience on the occasion of the Inauguration Ceremony of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue tonight.
Let me start by emphasizing the significance of continuous and constructive dialogue between cultures and religions. Dialogue is not only a priority of the Austrian foreign cultural policy, but has also become an important instrument of diplomacy on a global scale.
With a longstanding tradition as a hub for intercultural and interreligious dialogue and exchange, Austria enjoys broad international recognition. Spearheading a number of decisive initiatives that are designed to promote democracy and the universal respect for human rights and basic human freedoms, Austria provides neutral ground for fruitful exchange.
In the light of changing geo-political conditions and increased polarisation, the necessity arose to extend dialogue beyond “cultural” and “religious” lines. Dialogue has to be “issue-driven” and to focus on topics that are of mutual concern and relevance. At the same time, dialogue constitutes the indispensable fiber that holds our pluralistic and versatile societiestogether and has to be recognized as prerequisite for the peaceful co-existence of different cultures and religions.
Against this backdrop, I truly welcome the inauguration of the Centre in the midst of Vienna. Originating as a farsighted initiative by His Majesty King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the Centre builds upon the premises that fostering respect, reconciliation, and peace will counteract the abuse of religion, which must never serve as a justification for oppression, violence, and conflict.
The significance of dialogue has been widely recognized and thus initiatives and projects have increased steadily. While I most certainly appreciate this positive development, efforts on a global scale have varied greatly in priority, objective, and impact.
The Center provides a unique opportunity in the sense that it offers a concrete structure for dialogue. Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined in the Preamble of the Founding Agreement, the Centre will realize its projects and initiatives in a conceptual framework of internationally recognized principles. Moreover, by means of augmenting and expanding expertise, the Centre shall function as a hub for other organizations currently active in the field of dialogue and thus further structure and reinforce joint endeavours.
In addition, the Centre provides the means to develop a network of experts, scholars, and civil society representatives, so as to establish an indispensable platform for open and constructive exchange. Representatives of different faiths, civil society, and academia will work together in a truly interreligious and interdisciplinary manner. Initiatives and projects aimed at exchange, awareness-raising, and communication shall foster a culture of understanding and respect.
Strengthening the capacity of people and organizations will allow for the development of more responsive efforts that address these issues which are of utmost concern to all of us.
Combining the ability to complement dialogue efforts with structure and to reach a wider public audience by encouraging broad participation of people with different backgrounds, expertise and experience leads me to my final point: Continuity and sustainability. The Centre carries the potential to develop expanding and sustainable networks and thus promote the concept and significance of interreligious and intercultural dialogue across different societies and communities.
I am strongly convinced that the founding of the Centre constitutes a decisive milestone for dialogue. The next few years present an important period for the Centre, to translate its Mandate into action and deliverables. Together with Spain and Saudi-Arabia and relying on the support of the Holy See, I want to underscore our firm commitment to respond to this challenge and joint responsibility of enhancing co-operation, respect for diversity, and justice.
Let me conclude in expressing my gratitude to Secretary General Faisal Bin Muammaar and Deputy Secretary General Claudia Bandion-Ortner for their untiring efforts devoted to this noble cause. The Secretariat of the Centre and its outstanding Board of Directors have achieved remarkable success so far. I greatly look forward to seeing the Centre flourish and contribute to a safer and more peaceful world.