Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain, Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation
HE. George Vella, President of Malta
Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain
Chairman of Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain Cultural Foundation
In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful
Excellency President of Malta, Dr. George Vella,
Excellency President of Albania, Ilir Meta,
Excellency President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani,
Excellency Speaker of the Parliament of Malta, Anġlu Farrugia,
Excellency Speaker of the Parliament of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed,
Excellences; Presidents, Vice-Presidents of the Parliaments, Parliamentarians,
Excellences Secretary-Generals and Director-Generals of the International Organizations and Representatives of Educational and Civil Society Institutions,
Excellences the Ministers,
Excellences; Ladies and Gentlemen the Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen attending,
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you,
It is my pleasure to express my highest heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all of you for the success of the activities of this «Second World Forum for the Culture of Just Peace.» This shared accomplishment and success is the result of everyone’s honesty and willingness to work together constructively to achieve our noble goal. I also extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to the team of the Presidency of the Republic of Malta, led by His Excellency President George Vella, the team of our Foundation, and everyone who contributed in one way or another to organize and make the Forum a success.
I listened attentively and gladly to all of the distinguished world leaders and representatives of International Organizations, Parliaments, and Civil Society, all of which are crucial in terms of analysis, future vision, and positive proposals, and I came to three fundamental conclusions:
The first is that just peace is the right of all humanity, or rather the right that embraces all human rights, and anybody who wishes to understand this all-embracing right - that is, just peace - must first understand its essence, which is justice.
The second is that creating leaders of Just Peace from the young and future generations and empowering them to its culture is an urgent historical humanitarian necessity that we must undertake immediately and without delay, because every delay has dire consequences for humanity’s future.
The third is our efforts to achieve this are collective, shared, and interactive efforts peculiar to diverse governmental, international, and civic institutions, and we agree on this collective pursuit. Therefore, a shared mechanism of action for coordination, training, and preparation of leaders is necessary, which is the «Global Platform for Just Peace» that we must seek to establish technologically in all countries.
To conclude, I reaffirm my commitment, via my Foundation, to found this «Global Platform for Just Peace» and to collaborate with you to make it comprehensive for the majority of the world’s countries and peoples, as well as my commitment to continue investing in the Culture of Just Peace.
Thank you Your Excellency President George Vella.
Thank you all for your attention.
May Allah bless us all.
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.
HE. Dr. George Vella
President of Malta
First of all, to extend my warm thanks to all of you who made it to this forum for the culture and peace in Malta possible. I start with Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain and his team for the cooperation extended to my office before and during this event. Also I heartily thank His Excellency Ilir Meta, Her Excellency Vjosa Osmani Sadriu and His Excellency Stjipan Mesić for their presence and their very inspiring participation. This was very clear sign that against a backdrop of a pandemic and an ongoing war happening on European soil, people want to come together and to talk about a peaceful and just coexistence.
It gave me great satisfaction to meet with some of you informally during this forum as I could feel the engagement of important agents for peace first hand.
Peace is not only the task of elected politicians; it finds roots and strength in the daily work of multilateral organizations, ambassadors, academics, civil society, NGOs, voluntary organizations students and tutee. This is what enriched the value of this forum; it was inclusive and had a comprehensive approach.
From a proud national perspective, I very much feel that this forum continues to strengthen Malta’s international profile as a promoter of dialogue and mutual understanding. As has been remarked by our distinguished speakers, this has been Malta’s mission along the centuries. It is this mission; this vocation I would even say, is one who will continue to nurture, not only in our immediate neighborhood in the Mediterranean with our partners in Europe and the Arab World, but also on a global level when we are elected to the United Nations Security Council this June for the terms 2023-2024.
I was very impressed by some of the observations made over these two days.
First of all, I refer to the compliment paid to Malta by Mr. Abdulaziz Saud Albabtain himself, where it described my country as a rich mosaic of cultures, with the long-standing record of inter-cultural dialogue. I agree fully with him as he insists on the need to remain unified in pursuing our common objective of peace. Equally correct is the statement that merely believing in peace is not enough, we have to tangibly promote and apply it in practice. Our collective efforts need to be geared at finding a path to mutual cooperation.
I highly appreciated the message passed on to us by His Excellency Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait, who referred to and I quote, «...wisdom of the Mediterranean...», it would be good for us, countries of the region, to reflect on this phrase and assess where the wisdom could be put to better use.
I also wish to thank President Ilir Meta for his very interesting intervention and reflections on what is actually happening in Europe and around us. Excellency, I found your thinking of the link between true leadership and democracy is very fitting in the present circumstances. As the President rightly pointed out, expansionism and ethnic division continue to threaten stability in our shared region of the Mediterranean as well as the Western Balkans. I thank the President also for the reference made to the strong bonds that exist between people to people, which developed between Malta and Albania throughout the years.
President Vjosa Osmani Sadriu also had a very inspiring and heartfelt speech; it was very much reflected and expressed and was expressing our common feeling for the citizens of Ukraine, our sympathy and our sorrow. The punch line there one we should all carry in full view is that every individual has an absolute right to peace, which is an observation which is very pertinent to today’s world. We were reminded of the huge importance in today’s world of the correct use of social media. Those of you who follow my work locally and abroad know how strongly I feel about the way on the use of social media for the benefit of society, and not for its disruption.
Yesterday, we also had the pleasure of listening to Former President Stjepan Mesić, who focused on the qualities we, as political leaders, should put to good use in the promotion of just peace. Allow me to add that at this particular juncture in European history, we can all witness what a true leader stands for; this requires a sense of self-sacrifice for the common good and to the benefit of their brethren. President Mesić stated an evident truth that “...we sometimes all underestimate...”, and the vast majorities, he said, “...all people around the world want peace...”
Then we had two sessions of very interesting interventions, which I do not have the time to go into detail of what each and every speaker said. Obviously, we had the session on the role of governments and international organizations as well as the role of parliamentarians and civil society, but if you allow me, I can pick some notes, which I put down which impressed me.
For example, having said the Secretary General of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) saying that we have to be moderate and that we have to have the freedom of thinking and also to denounce violence and terrorism and advocate, at the same time, tolerance and acceptance.
His Excellency Taieb Baccouche told us about the cooperation that is necessary between institutions, and Salim Al-Mlaik from ISESCO spoke about that there is no development without stability; these are the essence of what has been said in these very important interventions.
Ahmed Yusuf, who is a Former President of the International Court of Justice, talked about the prominent role of the role of law and also the role of education, cooperation and mutual respect.
Our colleague from UNHCR, His Excellency Khaled Khalifa, spoke about the need and that we have to deal with the consequences of the absence of peace, because it is not just about the absence of peace, but we have to deal with the consequences of that, and that peace has become a dream and a luxury for millions of people around the world.
Our colleague Mohammed Alshafee from ECLASLO (European Commission and League of the Arab States Liaison’s Office based in Malta) spoke about the need for dialogue and mutual understanding and respect to dignity of the human being.
Professor Alfred J. Vella spoke about why universities should engage in peace building, repeating that education helps achieve peace and that whatever he quoted from well-known world authorities on the definition of peace and absence thereof has to be implemented.
Then we come to the third session, which was monitored by my friend and colleague Dr. Anġlu Farrugia, who spoke about the role of parliamentarians to maintain peace, but then we had very interesting and emotional, I would say, interventions by His Excellency Mohamed Nasheed to start with about the free and fair political parties and elections, the need for that and the peaceful transfer of power.
Equally emotional was our colleague Hanno Pevkur from Estonia, and we can understand because he is coming from a country, which has a border with Russia and, which I was supposed to visit next week and I had to cancel because of the ongoing circumstances. He spoke about the future of democracy, Human Rights Charters and reflections on the dangers of dictatorship.
His Excellency Abdesselam Lebbar spoke again also passionately and with heartfelt emotions about telling the truth; telling that we have to say the truth with a very strong voice and that we have to denounce war under any circumstances.
Then we had His Excellency Struan Stevenson, who spoke about the ban; that we have to agree on the ban of the political use of religions.
My colleague Jesmond Saliba looked at the attainment and maintenance of peace and the role of voluntary organizations. I was struck by the fact that his children and his wife who is Polish have got to try to understand what is happening in the country of their grandparents.
Finally, there was Monsieur Jean-Christophe Bas, who spoke about the nature of modern world divisions between countries and within countries themselves.
So I think that from all of this, we have to somehow bring ourselves down to some sort of decisions that we must have taken after these two days of discussions, and I am going to mention some points not in the order of importance.
It has been underlined that we need the involvement of NGOs and regional organizations to maintain cultural peace, as well as university think tanks. We reflected on the responsibility of ensuring effective role of responsible leadership to bring harmony and peace in our societies. We reflected on our commitment to reinforcing preventive diplomacy in order to maintain the global culture of peace, as well as ensuring gender empowerment and the effective role of women, who constitute 50% of societies and also to them more importance in all aspects of life.
We repeatedly heard the appeal for more directive involvement of world leaders and institutions in achieving a just peace, and we definitely have heard that we have to make sure that youth have an effective voice; that we have to cultivate respect of multi-faith societies in different countries, and the very important consideration of the control of the distribution of small arms and light weapons.
This meeting has clearly underlined the need of accentuating the power of dialogue because peace cannot be simply taken for granted. The necessity of identifying and eliminating the root causes of conflict and of physical violence, as well as the promotion of the dignity of every human being, and the recognition of the values of understanding, dialogue as well as solidarity.
Finally, we have to implement the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals relating especially to Goal 16 about peace, justice and strong institutions.
In conclusion, dear Mr. Albabtain, Presidents, Speakers, Excellences and distinguished guests, I thank you all for your valuable contribution to this global discussion on peace. It is very important that, precisely because of the persistent aggressions, the breaches of human rights, the threats to sovereignty, the oppression of entire nations, we, the international community, continue to press for democracy, for justice and for peace.
We may have not solved any conflicts or crises through our discussions, but we certainly gave a voice to those amongst us, whose freedom, well-being and, in some cases, their very existence is put in peril.
My very final words are reiteration of the message I conveyed yesterday on the ongoing war on European soil. Our ultimate collective hope is for credible and effective negotiations that result in a durable cessation of these appalling attacks and relief of the people of Ukraine from the harm, the anguish and the deep distress that they have been experiencing for days, yet the violence continues.
The world spoke out loud and clear at the United Nations General Assembly on the 2nd of March through the adoption of the resolution on the aggression against Ukraine with an overwhelming majority. I had my voice, and I am sure the general feeling of this conference to this resounding global condemnation of illegal and unprovoked attacks on a sovereign state and the immense suffering they are causing to the people. We need to stand together to safeguard and defend the rules-based international system, and we all have a role to play in our own professions; in our roles as politicians and in our activities. No country, large or small, should be threatened and endangered in this way; this is something that we cannot accept in this day and age for anyone anywhere around the globe. I ask you to take these thoughts with you back home and I urge you to be agents of tolerance and peace in all your actions.
Thank you for your attention.