Vienna, 13 October 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Great opportunity for interreligious dialogue”

Agreement on foundation of the King Abdullah Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue signed at the Albertina Museum in Vienna

Vienna, 13 October 2011 – Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and his Spanish counterpart Trinidad Jimenez and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal signed the agreement on the foundation of the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in a ceremonial act of state. The Dialogue Centre will have its headquarters in Vienna and offer a permanent platform for the dialogue between the world’s major religions. The opening is planned for January 2012.

“The recent escalation of violence in Egypt earlier this week is but one sad example of the growing tensions between religious groups world-wide. Dialogue with and among religious communities is therefore more important than ever and indispensable for lasting peace and security”, Spindelegger said shortly after the signing ceremony today. “With this new Centre, this dialogue is given its first permanent and stable international platform. Austria feels that the Centre will play an important role in preventing and mastering conflicts and in consolidating peace.”

Austria, Spain and Saudi Arabia are the founding states of the new international organisation that was initiated by the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulalziz. “The Centre is a great asset for Vienna, that is home to numerous international organisations, as it fits Austria’s tradition as a hub of international dialogue and peace perfectly. It is a great opportunity to provide a well-structured foundation with regulatory framework to the dialogue of religious communities and ideologies. The fact that the organisation is located in Vienna is a success for Austria and reflects the appreciation of our longstanding dialogue tradition”, Spindelegger continued.

The Board of the Centre will be made up by representatives of the world’s five major religions – Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. Other denominations are also invited to participate. It is planned to cooperate closely with non-governmental organisations and with experts in Austria as well as internationally. It is expected that more states and international organisations will join the Centre. The structures of the King Abdullah Centre have been designed in such a way that no single religion will play a dominating role or prevail over others. Decisions will be taken jointly. The Foreign Minister made it very clear: “It is a centre of the world’s religions and not a private missionary base. It cannot be abused as a propaganda centre by one contractual state or individual religious movement.”

The Holy See, represented at the signing ceremony among others by the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, stated its general interest in obtaining observer status with the new organisation and actively participating in its work.


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