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W. Schwimmer: Russia-Europe Dialogue

Message to Russia - Europe Conference on 
Peace and Security in Multicultural Societies at a Time of Global Crisis

Moscow, Russia - April 6-7, 2012

To Senator Aslambek Aslakhanov
Vice-President of the Committee on International Affairs of the Council of the Russian Federation

I would like to congratulate you and all the participants of the conference “Russia – Europe Dialogue: Peace and Security in Multicultural Societies at a Time of Global Crisis.” The topics of the conference are very timely and Moscow is a good place for it. There is no Russia without Europe and no Europe without Russia. After the end of the unfortunate division of Europe during the Cold War, the Russian Federation consequently or logically joined the Council of Europe, the comprehensive family of European nations united on the basis of Europe’s historic heritage and shared values. After so many bloody conflicts and atrocities that culminated in the historic tragedy of World War II, Europe not only remembered its cultural identity but also found its political identity in the spiritual and moral values which are also the common heritage of the peoples of Europe: pluralist democracy, rule of law, individual freedom, political liberty, and the respect for human rights.

This Europe is made up of 50 nations, 200 ethnicities and languages, several religious denominations, the three main denominations of Christianity (Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Christians), Muslims, Jews, and other believers who all enjoy the freedom of religion to which the continent also arrived after conflicts that were very often violent. All these peoples, nations, ethnicities, and communities of believers had throughout history one desire: to live together in peace and unity. Peace and unity can prevail on this continent of Europe only if diversity is also respected. All equal, all different, is how Europeans can be described. All equal in their human rights and human dignity, in their desire to build a better Europe and a better world for their children and grandchildren, and at the same time all different in their national and cultural traditions, their languages, their songs and poems, their beliefs.

To respect this diversity is the key to stability, security, and peace in Europe, not only at an international level. Cultural and religious diversity became the reality in European towns and cities. Our big cities host today dozens, often even more than hundreds of ethnic groups and dozens of different religious communities. This is not always without tensions. We have to learn that this diversity is not an obstacle to living together but an asset. We can learn from each other, we can teach other.

To achieve unity in diversity, Europe needs Russia and Russia needs Europe. Russia is an indispensable part of Europe. Russia’s culture has enriched European culture; European culture always had its impact on Russian culture.

Russia itself is an archipelago of different peoples, cultural traditions, languages, and religious communities. I don’t think it is just a coincidence that you are meeting for this session of your conference at the Council of the Federation of the Russian Federation. At this Council are represented the people who are living together, working together, striving together for the same goals, and at the same time preserving their tradition and their identity. Unity in diversity applies to Russia as well as to the entire Europe.

I regret that I cannot be with you during these days and wish that your conference will be full of success.