In the years since its independence, Kazakhstan has created a unique model of inter-religious and inter-ethnic goodwill, which is now recognized around the world as «Kazakhstan’s way». The experience of our country is needed at the global level, amid emerging ethnic and religious conflicts in the world.
Our country has always been a bridge between civilizations and cultures. The Great Silk Road passed through the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan and served as a channel for mutual cultural and spiritual enrichment of East and West, North and South.
Nowadays too Kazakhstan has become a bridge towards building the dialogue of world religious leaders. This interreligious platform – Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions – was convened in 2003 at the initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The first inter-religious summit was an effective engine of the global intermingling of spiritual values. Joint declarations and appeals addressed to the countries and peoples of the entire world community were adopted at the Congress.
At the Astana summit relationships between members of different religions and denominations, which subsequently contributed to cooperation between religious organizations, were established and deepened.
The ideas of tolerance, peace, cooperation between cultures, religions and civilizations have become a platform for the country’s foreign policy initiatives. Currently, Kazakhstan is actively expanding the scope of cooperation with both the European countries and the Islamic world to implement peacekeeping tasks.
The consistent and systematic implementation of the provisions contained in the «Nurly Zhol» Message of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to the people of Kazakhstan which outlines the way to a peaceful and constructive future plays a great role for the future of Kazakh people.
One of the important roles played by religious leaders in peace building consists of partnering in the joint search for ways of overcoming and resolving conflicts. Religious leaders looking for dialogue and cooperation are the living example of building a peaceful society. And this interreligious forum gives such opportunity to discuss vital issues, to establish and develop relationships with each other. Diplomacy of the second level – this is an unofficial, informal relationship between members of groups and nations aimed at developing strategies for conflict resolution.
The religious leaders’ appeal for peaceful coexistence through dialogue has humanistic, noble, deeply-based goals. This appeal has been universally supported by people suffering from oppression on racial and religious basis.
Such universal values as tolerance, respect, understanding and equality of all mankind are common to all religions. People of all religions are united by the desire for peace. But today we face common problems and challenges that can be solved only if people of all faiths contribute to that.
Kazakhstan, encouraging the international community to good beginnings, has won respect and recognition in the hearts of people in different parts of the world.
The contribution to the development of inter-religious dialogue has raised the prestige of our country in the society of nations. Kazakhstan has become recognizable in global patterns; it has earned respect and recognition for its good endeavours.
Through meetings and dialogue at all four congresses we have reached a certain level of comfort and trust between religious leaders. With each year the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions builds deeper relations between spiritual leaders and carries the message to the world about the possibilities of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation for peace, security and harmony.
An important factor in the development of peace and harmony is the fact that for centuries the people of Kazakhstan has stood out through tolerance. The legacy of cultural and ethical traditions of Kazakhs’ tolerant attitude in spiritual life is a good basis for the preservation of social peace in the present and the future.
In Kazakhstan, the culture and religions of all nations, nationalities and ethnic groups are treated as national heritage. Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan raise their children in a spirit of tolerance towards people of other nations and religions. It is a very historical situation when the same area that is home to numerous ethnic groups and nations, having different religious beliefs, brings up the need for cooperation among peoples and different religions.
International organizations hold a special place in the country’s foreign policy. The priority of cooperation with international organizations is noted in the book of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev «Strategy of formation and development of Kazakhstan as a sovereign state».
Regarding international organizations, the diplomatic service is ensuring the participation of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the UN and other international organizations, conferences, meetings, forums, promoting the international prestige of the country and its impact on global and regional issues.
Summarizing all of the above, we can say that the Congresses of Religious Leaders held in our country have opened the way to creating the global space of peace and harmony, triumph of moral and ethical principles – the basis of peace and harmony on Earth.
Astana interfaith forum of religious leaders fully reflected the international community’s efforts to overcome the crisis of civilizations and conflicts based on cultural and religious differences and to build a tolerant, stable world, the achievement of sustainable development.
Religious harmony and peace is at the heart of the spiritual tradition of the Kazakhs people. Strategic achievements of the past and present – the unity of the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional people of Kazakhstan should be an important priority in the future. It is a priceless heritage and spiritual wealth must be preserved, multiplied and transmitted to future generations.