Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia addressed the opening ceremony of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) held at the presidential palace in Vienna, Austria yesterday.
Following is the full text of the Prince's speech:
'In the name of Allah, the most compassionate and merciful,
Your Excellency Mr. Heinz Fischer, President of Austria,
Your Excellency Mr. Chancellor Werner Faymann,
Your Excellency Mr. Michael Spindelegger, Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellency Mr. Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Foreign Minister of Spain,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
May peace, mercy and blessings be upon all of you.
I am honored and privileged to participate today with you in this unique historical event. It is also a pleasure to visit Vienna again and savour that particular feeling which is always associated with Vienna:'Zehrgumutlich' that word which conveys all the sensitivity and warmth of the Viennese people.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to ask for your indulgence to continue my speech in Arabic.
I am delighted to be part of this unique and historical occasion, in which we celebrate the opening of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.
The selection of the Austrian capital as home to the center was by no means arbitrary. The beautiful city's rich history and status in human culture, with its diversity, intellectual creativity and artistic innovation, making Vienna the perfect place for conflicting currents of thought and religious doctrines to come together and resolve their differences.
'Moreover, the fact that Vienna is at the very center of Europe makes it an ideal place to host an institution that aims at bringing together people and cultures and reinforcing the principles of modernization and tolerance. Three principles are at the core of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' invitation to bring followers of various religions and cultures closer together, an initiative he announced in Makkah, the birthplace of Islam.
King Abdullah's call was addressed to all peoples in the countries of the world, regardless of their religions, cultures and creeds. In essence, the call reflects a serious human initiative that aims at establishing peace, coexistence, respect and harmony. The center we are about to open today is the culmination of a long, sustained effort that started in Makkah and spread to Geneva and Vienna through Madrid and New York.
Today's inauguration of the center signals a shift from the phase of preparation and theory to the stage of setting up actual programs and making concrete plans for the center to accomplish its objectives.
We sincerely hope that the center will set a historical milestone by encouraging purposeful, responsible dialogue that would bolster common values among the followers of divine religions and human cultures.
It is hoped and desired for the center to be a catalyst for enlightened dialogue which tackles issues of interest to every human community; issues over which costly wars were fought, bloody conflicts broke out and crimes were committed, not to mention extremism, violence and terror in all its forms and manifestations.
'The alarming decline in faith and spirituality, led to the undermining of moral authority, constant deterioration of values, the disintegration of the family unit as the basis of human society. We are conscious of the full impact of all of this, taking the form of wide spread injustice, rampant corruption, raging crime, social ills, spread of disease, environmental issues, and economic crises on a large and unprecedented scale.
It is our hope that the function of this center would not be confined to ending conflicts and reinforcing understanding between religions and cultures, but would also involve restoration of commitment to moral values and principles.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
King Abdullah's initiative for inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue rests upon spiritual and historical principles.
Fortunately such initiative resonated positively around the world which placed it at the top of priorities and became increasingly convinced of the need for cooperation and dialogue.
Those people in charge with the affairs of the center consider it as an international forum whose participants comprise representatives of all primary religions and doctrines in the world. This is precisely why cooperation between this center and other dialogue organizations is considered one of its basic objective.
It is ardently hoped that this center would be a vehicle, helping various peoples around the world to have a more optimistic outlook on the future, instead of the prevailing feeling of pessimism, and insecurity.
It behooves me as we step on the threshold of a new stage to conclude my statement expressing my thanks and gratitude to the government of Austria for hosting the center.
'My thanks also extend to the Kingdom of Spain, whose cooperation was instrumental in bringing this noble vision to reality. I also thank everyone from the Vatican and other religious and spiritual leaderships who participated in bringing this project to fruition, and all those who contributed to the shaping and supporting this humanitarian vision and took it upon themselves to bear the responsibility of transforming this project from a mere idea to actual reality. I am sure that they all look forward to the center as a vital tool to building of a common moral and humanitarian value system that protects heritage, values and common interests of our world against a flood of problems, pain and hardship.
I pray to Allah to assist those in charge of this center to achieve its goals.'
Addressing the ceremony, KAICIID Secretary General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar welcomed and thanked the audience saying, ' I invite you to the dialogue-table. We thank Austria for its agreement to establish this Center. As many as 21 international organizations have participated in the dialogue to work together for the future. '
In his speech, Austrian President Heinz Fischer said that the celebration of KAICIID is a turning point and an important initiative, especially in the current situations and events taking place in the world, stressing that the Center will enable followers of religions and cultures to meet and exchange views.
He noted that the Center will allow us to conduct constructive dialogue, adding 'What we need is a fundamental change that brings us to the understanding and finding suitable solutions to the existing challenges.
In his speech, King Juan Carlos of Spain said that the establishment of the center came as a result of World Conference on Dialogue hosted in Madrid in 2008.
He expressed his appreciation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his efforts exerted in this regard, pledging his country's continual support for the Center and its noble missions.
For his part, Austrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger expressed in his speech his thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for his wisdom in the launch of the initiative for dialogue among followers of religions and cultures.
He indicated that his country is proud of the center's existence in it, and it serves it as dialogue is not limited to Austria, but it is a common and important heritage.
In his address, Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo stressed that the opening of the Center is a great achievement which began in 2008 at the International Conference on Dialogue held in Madrid under the auspices of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, expressing his thanks to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Austrian President, calling on all countries to cooperate with the Center to live in peace.
For his part, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed in his speech his thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Spanish King, stressing the United Nations' support for the Center's missions.
In his address at the ceremony, the Secretary General of Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen Al-Turki said, ' Through his deep insights, experiments and humanitarian history, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has realized the importance of dialogue between followers of religions and cultures. He has given dialogue a priority in his interest, therefore he launched his humanitarian dialogue five years ago and patronized two World Conferences on dialogue organized by the Muslim World League.'
He expressed his thanks to and appreciation of the King for his great human efforts, noting that the establishment of this Center is one of his most important efforts.
The ceremony was attended by 800 officials and representatives of followers of relgions and cultures.