Belarus President's speech at 13th summit of Organization of Islamic Cooperation

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Dear heads of delegations,
Dear President, Secretary General, participants and guests of the summit,

I am sincerely glad to take part in the forum of this big and influential international organization for the first time.

I am especially grateful to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for inviting me, a representative of a Christian state, to take part in the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. This fact testifies to the openness of your Organization.

It is symbolic that the summit is taking place in Istanbul, a city that has stood at the crossroads of cultures and has been the birthplace of various civilizations since times immemorial.

I am convinced that the way to addressing the global tasks the international community faces lies only through their mutual enrichment, through dialogue and cooperation.

The matters raised during the summit are of great current interest and are in tune with Belarus’ foreign policy.

Concerns about security and counteraction of modern challenges and threats are shared by all countries regardless of their national composition and religious affiliation.

Take a look at what is going on in the world today. Wars and dissention are rampant. Previously flourishing countries fall to ruins to become the sources of chaos and violence and generate major crises.

The threat of terrorism is becoming global against the background of rising instability and uncertainty. I believe you will agree with my saying that at present no country in the West or in the East can feel safe from this evil that feeds on disunity and mistrust between countries, nations, and cultures.

It is seems that right now that efforts should be combined to fight modern challenges and threats! However, instead of doing that many prefer flinging accusations at each other. If the process is not stopped, after some time it can go critical, it can become irreversible and can entail unpredictable consequences.

I am representing the country where Christians, Muslims, Jews, and representatives of other religious denominations have been living in peace with each other for centuries. All of them have different paths to church. And we guarantee this path to them. We are proud of the fact that there have never been any interethnic or religious conflicts in Belarus. It was made possible because of the consistent promotion of the ideas of tolerance, peaceful and harmonious co-existence of various nationalities and religious denominations.

It is deeply symbolic that I can tell you about an important event for all Belarusian Muslims at this high-profile forum in Istanbul. The construction of the large Cathedral Mosque will be completed in the Belarusian capital which lies in the center of Europe in the near future.

The interest in the enhancement of the ties with the Islamic world is an absolutely conscious choice of Belarus. Thanks to our multi-vector policy and openness to the external world, because of the fact that we did not want to be constrained in the narrow bounds of Eurocentrism at the end of 1990s we became the only full-fledged member of the Non-Aligned Movement among all European countries at that moment in time.

Belarus shares the OIC’s universal principles of non-interference with the domestic affairs of sovereign nations and respect for their territorial integrity. Belarus is against using force and is in favor of resolving conflicts by peaceful means.

The concurrence of Belarus and OIC members’ views on many fundamental matters enables us to work together to promote traditional family values, defend the versatility of ways of progressive development, step up efforts in the fight against human trafficking, and cooperate within the framework of the global initiative called the Alliance of Civilizations.

I would like to say that we have many other contact points.

Throughout the centuries, our land had been the arena of fierce wars and conflicts which had caused immense suffering to our people.

Therefore, we know the price of peace perfectly well and are making a real contribution to the enhancement of stability and security, to the resolution of the most difficult conflict situations.

Imagine what we could achieve if the colossal military budgets were channeled into peaceful goals.

Those toying with the illusion that they can solve all problems using force today will lose tomorrow.

The decreasing ‘immunity’ against the use of force is particularly alarming. The accumulating critical mass of minor conflicts can result in a global showdown one day.

What can the heads of state do to counter this negative trend? First of all, it is essential to develop systemic cooperation between individual countries and between major integration associations. The potential of regional formats can be utilized in full.

We should fill the relations between the West and the East, the North and the South with real content while avoiding any contraposition or confrontation.

Bearing this in mind, Belarus once put forth the idea of ‘integration of integrations’ that fully complies with these approaches and is based on the principles of unity and rapprochement.

I am convinced that we are capable of turning the conventional religious borders that span huge territories and affect millions of human lives in the 21stcentury into the borders of friendship instead of confrontation. The number of opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation greatly exceeds the number of real or contrived contradictions today.

It is obvious that the formation of the truly multi-polar world is impossible without Muslims. The contours of this multi-polar world are shaping today. Alongside with other important geopolitical players, the Islamic world can become one of the pillars of stability and security, the driving force of progressive and sustainable development on the planet.

There are preconditions for it. The Organization uniting 57 countries with the population of more than 1 billion has a huge political and economic potential. This potential can be unveiled by ensuring unity in the Muslim world, surmounting internal disagreements.

I believe that taking into account the advanced level of our trustful relations with many Muslim countries and the affinity of views on fundamental international matters granting the OIC observer status to Belarus would be the next logical step that would bring about new opportunities for advancing mutually beneficial cooperation.

Muslim countries will always find a reliable and predictable partner in Belarus.

I would like to wish productive work to all participants, wellbeing and every success to the countries and nations you represent, your families and friends.

Thank you for attention.