Statement of the Founding President of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin at the opening of the 12th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum, September 25, 2014, Melina Mercouri Theatre
Ladies and gentlemen!
I'm happy to welcome you to the 12th session of the Rhodes Forum! Opening our annual meeting I would like to thank all of you for respecting our common work and finding the time to come to Rhodes and take part in this event. Despite all the turbulence, we stand united in countering the challenges posed to the world. This requires civic-mindedness, a lot of courage and immense personal responsibility. Thank you for having all this.
This year we are going to address the events, which led to the First World War a hundred years ago. It was the rule of human progress, when mankind, having just entered a new era, was going to face the world's biggest military disasters, as well as significant economic, political and social changes. It was the time, when the global world of the future was beginning to acquire its basic outlines - this is the totalitarian world of unlimited consumption protected by weapon power that we are living in today. We will have a more detailed discussion concerning the matters of war and peace at the upcoming meetings of the Rhodes Forum. Now I would like to focus on the fact that the historical parallels between the current situation and the situation the world was facing a hundred years ago are obvious. We must remember the lessons, which history taught us and which we unfortunately did not learn well. Mankind has to possess the courage, wisdom and strength to confront the impending global catastrophe with dignity and preserve its civilization values and principles of equitable peaceful dialogue. War distorts the human nature, and our goal is to preserve the man's natural dignity, to protect the inalienable human right to life and a peaceful future. Moreover, it does not so much refer to our common history as it shapes the destiny of the future generations.
It is very important that this year the Rhodes Forum is held at the same time as the Youth Forum. Thus, young people will have a chance to listen to the older generation, and we will try to save them from making the mistakes, which would be very hard to correct in the future. But, unfortunately, it is much easier to learn from your own experience, than not to repeat the mistakes of others.
This year the dialogue community will jointly focus its efforts on creating the world fit for humanity. Over the last decade the World Public Forum "Dialogue of Civilizations" has explored and presented to the global community both the possible scenarios for the future human development and the most relevant ideas on the modern world order. Those were discussed during many conferences and implemented in some international research projects, which were completed successfully and resulted in publications by the world's most respected publishers. Today these materials can be accessed by anyone. The World Public Forum has completed its job, and now it all depends on how the next generation will use what we have accomplished. And this is what rests on each one of you, dear participants of the Rhodes Forum. You can propagate the idea of the dialogue of civilizations, to maintain this dialogue within your own civilization and in your area of competence. It requires serious effort, but our goal is not an easy one, as the Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of the Forum Jagdish Kapur wrote. And today this quotation is as relevant as ever:
“The twenty-first century world inherited a civilization built on blood, tears, and hunger. At its portal stood two gate-keepers — Destiny and Death. Destiny for those who controlled the levers of power and wealth and domination and death for others… We must recognize that the world is not just a globalized loot-haven, but a family of nations in a true sense, where all members of the family have a right to pray, work, and establish life styles of their choice. A state or a group of states in the name of freedom, democracy, and human right or any other contrived or media projections have no right to impose their neo-imperial designs, will, and shattered moral and ethical consumerist frame over others. They have already done enough damage to the human system. It is time to stop.” Close quote. There is only one thing I would like to add: now is the time to start acting. Thank you for your attention.