“On Thursday, the 14th of June 1325 B.C., the second day of Rajab 725 after Hejjira, the 21-year-old Abu Addullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta had left Tangier in order to travel to the place we call today the Middle East, the Balkans, Caucasus, or, generically the Levant. Thirty years later, after traveling more than 75,000 miles, he returned to Fez, Morocco and wrote a book: “The Famous Travels of Ibn Battuta”. During the sames times, in 1340, the Venetian Francesco Pegolotti leaves from the Northern shores of the Mediterranean towards the same fabulous lands of the Levant area. He would be followed in 1431 by Andrea Barbarigo and other Venetians making trade in the Mediterranean ports from the Middle East, the Black Sea, in the ports if today’s Romania up to the Caspian Sea, in Azerbaijan. A bit later, the 23-year-old Alessandro Magno would be less interested in commerce, but in day to day life in Alexandria and Cairo, which he is thoroughly depicting in his Diary.
On my turn, traveling at the crossroads between the 20th and the 21st centuries, in the first decade of the 3rd millennium in the Middle East, Northern Africa, the Balkans and the Caucasus, I was struck by the common origin of the historical and architectural vestiges, but especially by the numerous behavioral similarities derived from a common psychology, rooted in the old Levant. Tens of millions of people all over the world - a mix of races, ethnicities and nationalities, coming to the Levant every year as pilgrims or tourists -, go together on trails representing fortifications of old fortress cities erected to defend the borders between ancient or feudal domains, palaces built to impress through wealth and power, temples or churches marking spiritual boundaries. All these proving that everything that was created to isolate us ends up in uniting us. This is the reason why the Levant Initiative for Global Peace proposes another kind of reading the history of this region, seen before especially as an area of wars and millennial conflicts. It offers a new approach aiming to trace what we have in common and what can unite us: the principles, values and skills practiced in the past, which can now be valorized in order to provide not only stability to this region as a whole, but also to build a model of cooperation and trust for all the world’s states. It does not mean that we should deny our past, but to assume it in its tragic dimension.”
The discourse “Levant initiative – context and history” was delivered at Global Summit, organised by The Inter- Parliamentary Coalition for Global Ethics at Paris headquarter of UNESCO (the 1st of July 2014)