New York, 28 September 2006 - "The dialogue between cultures and religions calls for practical action. Three aspects are particularly important: the local community level, the exchange of successful experiences, and targeted networking as a means of accelerating dialogue," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at today’s Alliance of Civilizations Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.
"As an umbrella for our activities, in setting global standards and in safeguarding human rights the UN is indispensable. There must be no belittlement or curtailment of universal human rights in the name of religion or culture," stated the Foreign Minister. The Alliance of Civilizations was initiated in 2005 by the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a network of states and international organisations. Together with business and the civil society, its aim is to make a contribution to the peaceful coexistence of religions and cultures through specific projects.
"We must see to it that women and young people are integrated in the dialogue to an increasing degree, for they are the driving force behind the changes in their societies," stated Plassnik. With its topic "Youth", the Alliance of Civilizations had therefore chosen the right theme for its meeting in Madrid at the beginning of 2008.
The Foreign Minister also referred to the Middle East Women’s Conference in Vienna: "The key message of this conference was that we must find a political solution to the problem between Israelis and Palestinians. The issue must not be hijacked by those who pretend to act in the name of religion," stated the Foreign Minister.
"Not only politicians but also religious leaders must be aware of their responsibility and take a clear stance against practices that have no basis in religion, such as honour killings and genital mutilation," concluded Plassnik.
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