As founder of the ”The Levant Initiative for Global Peace” and president of the Institute for Advanced Studies for the Culture and Civilization of the Levant, Emil Constantinescu has organised the Conference ”Through Cultural Diplomacy towards a Sustainable Peace”. The proceedings of the conference were held in the House of Parliament, Bucharest in partnership with the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, the National School for Political and Administrative Studies, and the University of Bucharest. The Conference was carried out in sessions, plenary and panels: ”Difficulties In Managing National, Religious and Interethnic Conflicts in Transition Towards Democracy”, ”The Levant, Cradle of Religions, Culture, Science and Democracy”, Protecting and Preserving Natural and Cultural Heritage in the Levant Region”, ”Cultural Diplomacy. Traditions and Perspectives in the Levant Area”, ”Re-Birth of The Silk Road: The Levant – Bridging Asian and Western Civilisations”. Emil Constantinescu’s guests were high-ranking representatives of the scientific community from Romania and abroad, diplomats, ambassadors stationed in Bucharest, personalities representing various cults, members of the Inter-parliamentary coalition for Global Ethics. On conclusion of the conference, the participants adopted ”The Declaration of Bucharest: Long-lasting Peace through Culture and Education”
Stjepan Mesić: Difficulties in managing religious and ethnic conflicts in post-communist World
Dear president Constantinescu,
mr. president of the Senate
distinguished participants and guests,
ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome all of you and thank the organizers for inviting me to this conference. To talk about global peace today through cultural diplomacy towards sustainable peace is both challenging, and extremely sensitive.
We live in a period when it seems that all the previously accepted principles of international relations are neglected, at a time when force prevails, and when powers force others to go with their will while cultural heritage is barely mentioned.
Why am I saying this? Just to warn of the worrying fact that today's world scene has not changed in a positive direction. However, we did have indications - very concrete - of the new US President and the US under his leadership would give up the policy of imposing regimes and that Russia is worth cooperating with.
Time will show how much this policy is achievable.
I have to remind everyone of the Conference on European Security and Cooperation, which was held in Helsinki in 1975. This was a turning point for Europe and for the World. A Milestone. That was, as we then hoped and firmly believed, the beginning of the road to a better and safer future.
If we look at our space today, we will have to point out that we live in the atmosphere of the awakened cold war:
We are pushed into forgetting our common cultural heritage;
There is not enough response to attempts of revisionism in some parts of society;
Pro-fascistic provocations have become everyday phenomena;
In some places it is forgotten that with the independence of Kosovo, the architecture in this region has been completed, and that Bosnia and Herzegovina is single and indivisible.
We have some major media, that operate as if they were run by the notorious Hitler propaganda minister - Goebbels.
We have the Internet and the Internet portals where there is literally - I will not hesitate to say that - tons of garbage, but also a lot of objective analysis, which fails to break into the major newspapers or national television, whether public or commercial.
And finally, we have social networks that have, under the word "freedom of speech", become the breeding ground of prejudice, stereotypes, ignorance and, above all, hatred.
This is a phenomenon that is seldom spoked about, but which should be give much more attention. Especially because many church leaders do not understand democratic processes. They do not understand the values of today's society: every person's right to personal choice, women's rights, education and upbringing in the 21st century. Some ecclesiastical churches go to such an extent that they dream about returning the society to the Middle Ages.
In such a political and information environment, the key principles of the European Declaration of the European Conference in Helsinki 1975 are forgotten or deliberately ignored.
European peace, the greatest achievement of the process of integration, the peace that lasts the victory over the fascism of 1945, was, interrupted by the bloody wars in which Yugoslavia broke down.
But after these wars Europe has returned to peace and state that has not changed in essence until today.
It may have become more dangerous. Europe is being transformed into a huge military playfield, creating an atmosphere that is unknown to young people, but which is very well known to people of my generation - the atmosphere of the Cold War that is on the verge of becoming an open conflict.
It is perfectly clear to every objective observer that Western Europe, or some of its parts, is not threatened by any aggression from the East.
Yes, there is a dangerous situation in Ukraine. But there is also an agreement from Minsk that opens the way for his solution. It is only important that the agreement is adhered to by both parties, I emphasize: both parties.
But there is another aspect that we must not neglect, which is becoming increasingly serious as an obstacle in establishing security and stability in Europe.
It is a propaganda war, that is, the war of lies and half-truths that is waged in the media.
This war has not spared even Southeast Europe.
The two largest victims of this war are: journalism, because what is called journalism today has nothing to do with a once honorable and respected profession. The second victim are citizens who, on the one hand, are deprived of key information, while on the other - without being aware of it - are increasingly becoming subject to manipulation.
In sum - the only true victim of this war today is security and stability in Europe, and perhaps tomorrow's peace. This must be said clearly, because this applies to our region.
Faced with the consequences of dangerous and defective politics, Europe is slowly, but surely falling in the vortex of right populism.
I do not agree with those who speak exclusively of Eurosceptics, although it should be recognized that the European project, as it has been developing over the last few years, has given many reasons for healthy skepticism.
But I'm talking about skepticism that serves as a mask for the forces that draw inspiration from the dark pages of European history of the twentieth century. We shouldn't be silent about it!
And now I must once again emphasize that Europe needs a new one, or more precisely: a renewed security system through cultural diplomacy to sustainable peace.
And that means that we must return to strict respect for international law, and also to the forgotten principles of the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference.
In short, what I want to say the following: security in Europe will not be achieved by amassing of weapons and troops, the demonstration of force, seeking enemies and mobilization of the public opinion for defense against such fictitious enemies.
No, lasting peace in Europe can be achieved solely by full equality of sovereign states, refraining from using force, resolving disputes by peaceful means, non-interference into the internal affairs of other states, the rights of peoples to self-determination, co-operation between states and the fulfillment of good faith internationally assumed commitments. Returning to Helsinki will, due to completely disrupted and forgotten principles of international relations, seem to some like a painful process, to some even impossible - given the current state of affairs.
However, there is no alternative in our region without the knowledge of a common cultural heritage as a basis for peace and stability.
There is no alternative to European identity and European interest if we take into account the effect of new knowledge and technological innovations.
There is no alternative to European-Russian cooperation, in other words the inclusion of Russia in the European unification project, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.
Finally, there is no alternative to multiculturalism and multitude of religions, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity as a resource rather than a reason for marginalizing anyone from anything.
The alternative will be the return to loud nationalism.
The alternative will the return to a barbed wire-fenced national ghetto.
The alternative will be to abandon everything that millions of people have died for against the Nazi-fascists.
The alternative to peace is war!
Do we have the right to accept such an alternative? No, we do not have!
That is why, in today's conditions, loud and clearer than ever in the last few decades, more than ever since the beginning of the policy of detente, say and persistently repeat: the way out is only and only in cooperation and in mutual trust and understanding.
Thank you for listening to me!”