«Под общей редакцией: М. Абусеитовой, К. Исак, Л. Ерекешевой. Составители: Л. Ерекешева, А. Асадова. Составление резюме статей на англ. языке: А. Асадовой. Перевод с ...»
In the light of the OCPA’ experience, Mr. Kovcs viewed the Central Asian Cultural Platform for Cooperation and Dialogue as an appropriate project that could help cultural institutions, projects, and networks in Central Asia to better connect and communicate with each other and with those in other regions. He especially emphasises the importance of a regular newsletter service as it would be essential for both the development of the two-way information flow as well as the visibility of the Central Asian cultural initiatives and that of the Platform. Additionally, Mr. Kovcs made the following recommendation for the Central Asian Platform:
Provision of a good quality translation (English – Russian), which would involves a lot of time and money, probably much more than the amount foreseen in the budget;
Facilitation of a two-way information, creation of synergy and partnership within the concerned countries and among them should be foreseen as a first task;
Avoidance of duplication, thus, the need to link with exiting networks and resources; and Creation of databases should be considered as a priority along with providing updates and harmonizing profiles to agree on the levels and interests.
Le Duc Florent Founder, NGO “Central Asian Initiatives” (Belgium/France) Georgy Mamedov Director and Project Coordinator, Restorers without Borders – Tajikistan (Tajikistan) In the absence of Mr. Florent Le Duc, Mr. Mamedov presented the NGO “Central Asian Initiatives”, which is currently working on the preparation of the Central Asian Cultural Platform. This project aims at conceiving, launching, and managing an Internet Cultural Web Portal on Central Asia. The project’s concept stems from the recognition that networking and exchange of information and knowledge about artists from various countries is a crucial prerequisite for intercultural dialogue.
Especially in recent years, networking among cultural players has shown that the variety of perspectives offered by different cultural regions can open up highly productive forms of transnational and interdisciplinary dialogue. The use of new technologies, in particular the Internet, offers new conditions to create a forum for this global communication network, one that is not dependent on any location.
The Central Asian Cultural Platform would constitute a unique tool providing with relevant information on cultural life in Central Asia, facilitating mobility and regional cooperation in the arts and culture as well as promoting exchange of ideas and information in Central Asia and Europe.
Following a needs assessment implemented by the NGO “Central Asian Initiatives” with UNESCO support, a crucial need for strengthening cultural international connections was underlined in order for Central Asia to cope with the globalization process.
It is therefore proposed to support the presence of Central Asian cultural structures, networks and initiatives on the international scene through the creation of a Central Asian cultural platform.
Acting as a gateway and focusing on contemporary culture, this tool would not overlap with existing Central Asian cultural networks operating at regional level, but would rather focus on increasing the exchange of information and cooperation with other international cultural networks.
The Portal will serve as an information tool, and its further development would provide with virtual meeting space, an e-venue, for members of the cultural and arts scenes of different regions to meet, network, brainstorm, discuss, cooperate, collaborate and create.
Abusseitova Meruert Director, Institute of Oriental Studies named after Suleimenov;
Chairholder, UNESCO Chair on Science and Spirituality; Professor (Kazakhstan) In her presentation “Role of History and Culture in Central Asia in the Context of Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue”, Professor Abusseitova mentioned that in recent decades, questions of cultural and religious diversity play a greater role in all regions of the world raising a number of key issues, including globalization, regionalization, and fight against poverty. The two-track process of globalization and regionalization manifests itself not only in politics and economics, but is equally visible in culture.
As part of an overall transformation of the international system, issues of religious freedom, interreligious interaction, and cultural identity are especially relevant. Therefore, the number one challenge for all nations and international organizations becomes the formulation of national and international policies to prevent conflicts and establishment of a culture of tolerance and mutual respect.
The human history has long established a formula of intercultural dialogue, which flourishes and enriches while in contact with other cultures. It is important to note that historically Central Asia has been “a meeting place” for world religions and various ethnicities creating a common background clearly-established in many historical sources and documents. Today, Central Asians are turning to this “historical memory”, which could potentially become a major factor towards stability and spread of cultural dialogue.
The experience of Kazakhstan should receive a special attention because of the composition of its population as well as experience of state policies in the area of religious and ethnic relations. Kazakhstan is home to 130 ethnicities and 40 faiths and denominations;
much has been done by the government to maintain the spirit of inter-religious and intercultural harmony. In addition to the Law “On freedom of worship and religious associations in the country”, there is widely available legal framework in the area of freedom of conscience. The Government supports production of newspapers and magazines and broadcast of television and radio stations on many ethnic languages.
In the context of UNESCO’s policy on culture of dialogue, as well as the network of UNESCO Chairs in intercultural and interfaith collaboration, a plan of action “Central Asian Platform” was developed with the following proposed events:
Development of the model curriculum for “interreligious and intercultural dialogue” for students enrolled in humanitarian professions - Cultural and Religious Studies, History Discussion of the model curriculum with higher education professors at learning seminars;
Writing an educational manual on the basis of a model curriculum; and Publication of the manual and its further distribution among universities.
On its part, UNESCO Chair on Science and Spirituality at the Institute of Oriental Studies has experts to help with the model curriculum and writing of the educational manual; in addition, the UNESCO Chair could organize teaching seminars in Kazakhstan.
Professor Abusseitova concluded by expressing hope that the principles of interreligious and intercultural dialogue would become an integral feature of Central Asia as well as other regions of the world. In this respect the role of UNESCO, its chairs, as well as non-governmental organizations in the cultural sphere would be especially relevant and necessary.
Podkuyko Yuri Chairholder, UNESCO Chair on the Study of World Cultures and Religions at Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University (Kyrgyzstan) Mr. Podkuyko reported on the activities of the UNESCO Chair on the Study of World Cultures and Religions at Kyrgyz Russian Slavonic University that contribute to the development of intercultural and interreligious dialogue. History of Kyrgyz Religious Studies discipline is directly connected to the establishment of the UNESCO Chair on the Study of World Cultures and Religions at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University in 1999. In 2004, the Religious Studies department welcomed its first graduating class of specialists in history and philosophy of religion who obtained skills to engage in pedagogical activities at universities, colleges, schools and gymnasiums, and to work at academic institutions and administrations as experts on religious issues.
Through its educational program, the UNESCO Chair also considers its overall program goal – to train young people in a spirit of peace and tolerance, solidarity of intercultural and interreligious dialogue, and training of specialists. The UNESCO Chair’s designated research priorities include:
East-West: programs of socio-cultural renewal, spiritual rebirth, and interaction between cultures; and Current problems in the formation of interreligious tolerance and intercultural dialogue, the problem of international terrorism and religious extremism.
UNESCO recognizes the importance of education in peace-building process, intercultural and interfaith understanding, and understands that a society is often involved in such issues as conflicts among people, injustice, ignorance, intolerance, and extremism. Therefore, in carrying out its objectives, the staff and students of the UNESCO Chair work with non-governmental organizations, foundations, religious institutions dealing with multicultural issues at the local level, giving priority to trainings on intercultural and interreligious dialogue. In addition, a number of scientific, research, and educational activities take place such as round tables on religious issues, where various stakeholders are invited.
An example of practical experience of the UNESCO Chair can be the participation of staff and students in Fund Egalite’s project to eliminate the effects of inter-ethnic conflict in the village Iskra in with a slogan “Ignorance breeds conflict.” At the student round table “Youth and Society”, jointly with the Fund Naumana, participants discussed causes of conflict and examined actions of various parties.
Thus, in practice, students learned about the destructive forces of ethnic conflict and participated in bringing about solutions.
The activities of the UNESCO Chair have received public recognition; currently, Kyrgyzstan is preparing a new law on freedom of religion and belief. The legislative work involves religious organizations and representatives of religious denominations, legal and religious studies scholars, while providing an opportunity not only for scholars, but also for students to be participants in the discussion of this new law.
Mr. Podkuyko stressed the importance of cooperation within the Network of UNESCO Chairs, working on the study and establishment of interreligious and intercultural dialogue. The Network provides not only an opportunity to exchange information, explore examples of excellence, but also a platform for a coordinated approach to tackle common problems related to national and international security.
Yuldasheva Mavjuda Chairholder, UNESCO Chair on Intercultural Dialogue in the Contemporary World at the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University;
Doctor of Education Sciences; Professor, Tajik-Russian Slavonic University (Tajikistan) In her presentation “Contribution of the Tajik National Culture to the World Civilization: through the Example of the Special Course on ‘Intercultural Dialogue in the Contemporary World’”, Professor Yuldasheva discussed the importance of the geographical position and rich historical heritage of the Central Asian region in playing a significant role to promote cultural, scientific, and religious ideas between East and West, North and South. Historical evidence demonstrates that the growth of spiritual and material cultures as well as peace-loving and tolerant nature of Central Asian populations has evolved over many centuries.