December 16, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Constantine Moushoutas on the ‘U.N Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations’

Mr. Chairman,

The Charter of the UN considers dialogue as a means for harmonizing international relations and solving differences among States. The Charter places dialogue in the highest peak of human endeavours, for the promotion of peace and the solution of international problems. The item under consideration aims at these lofty goals, as well as strengthening the bonds within and among civilizations, emphasizing the common destiny of mankind.

Promoting cooperation, interchange, tolerance and understanding among peoples and coexistence among countries, cultures and religions is not only a good policy: it is an imperative choice for survival.

Our Societies and our Cultures are not, and cannot be isolated entities. A local crisis in a place far removed from our borders or shores, unfailingly and immediately affects us all. We are part, it seems, of the same “global village”, where our actions or omissions, our deeds or misdeeds, are affecting everyday life everywhere. And here lies the contradiction of our present days; instead of drawing closer to each other in this interdependent world, we continue to experience much conflict and human misery from segregation and divisions.

The twentieth century has been marked more by rivalry, rather than cooperation. It has been rightly observed that the majority of conflicts, where UN peacekeeping operations take place, are based on ethnic, tribal or religious grounds. Separatism, especially militant separatism, forms one of the root causes of conflicts in our world. “Just as in the 90’s, many who went to war use the threat of diversity as justification for conflict” said the personal representative of the Secretary General Mr. Giandomenico Picco “perhaps in the future, those who seek peace will use the spirit of Dialogue Among Civilizations as means to move forward”. Common sense dictates that the calamities, which we have brought upon us, be avoided and that peace and cooperation replace confrontations and conflicts.

To achieve this goal, we must institutionalize dialogue among peoples of different cultures and civilizations, if we are to achieve peace. As the Secretary-General notes, “it is the perception of diversity as threat, that is at the very origin of war”. The many positive and mutually beneficial interactions among civilizations, the enrichment of civilizations from each other, must be underlined, cultivated and form the basis of educating the young, especially the children. We are all creatures of creation, linked by common destiny, and facing a challenging future. It is time the beauty of integration and peaceful coexistence through diversity, be further promoted and with conviction to be addressed. Tendencies of portrayal of specific cultures as threats to peace, must be rooted out of our teachings and schoolbooks.

On this year of U.N. dialogue among civilizations we celebrate the unity and diversity of mankind. We agree that our survival ultimately depends on our success to promote tolerance as the accepted mode of behaviour, despite obstacles of intolerance and aggression. Let us not forget Mr. Picco’s words, that “history does not kill, religion does not rape women, the purity of blood does not destroy buildings… only individuals do all these things”.

It is through dialogue that my Government is committed to solve the problem of Cyprus. We strive for a peaceful solution, where the two communities on the island may live in peace and harmony as they have done for centuries in the past, without occupation troops and barbed wires.

Mr. President,

It is with these thoughts in mind that we have again cosponsored resolution A/56/L.3 introduced by Iran, cosponsored also by a great number of member states representing every regional group. It contains all the elements for promoting dialogue, among different civilizations. It underlines the importance of inclusion and enhancement of mutual understanding and provides a programme of action for cultural, educational and social events by Governments, regional Groups and non-governmental organizations.

In this regard, we commend the initiative, of the visionary and wise President of Iran, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Khatami. To the Mission of Iran, which undertook the heavy task of promoting, within the U.N., this lofty cause, we extend our deep appreciation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.