Speaking at the online International Conference on “Cultural Dialogue, Peace, and Development on Silk Road”, Mr. Sarvar Bakhti, President of the ECO Cultural Institute referred to the cultural richness of the Road which has made it enduring and said: the revival of the Silk Road does not only mean the revival of its structure, but also the revival of bonds
According to ECO Cultural Institute, the full text of the speech by the president of this international organization at this virtual conference held on November 10, 2020, is as follows:
It is a great honor and privilege to be invited to participate at this conference which has a great historical significance. An academic forum convened to allow like-minded scholars to exchange their precious knowledge and experience on important issues. As the President of ECO Cultural Institute, I would like to thank everybody involved in organizing this very important scientific-cultural event.
I would like to begin my remarks by highlighting the concept of peace. Peace is a long-standing concept in human societies that has its deep roots in the minds of thinkers and intellectuals. Peace, as one of the most basic human needs, is a component that is widely accepted despite the differences in civilizations and schools of thought and humans always seek to achieve it both in terms of theoretical and practical approaches. In today's world, more than ever before, peace has become a priority. Today, peace means much more than the mere absence of war; it is the pursuit of lasting peace based on peaceful coexistence, in which individuals genuinely show respect to others values, so that a culture of tolerance can be established among them and started to be applied in cultural discourse at the national and transnational levels.
Hence, the convergence of human societies takes place through culture. Whenever communication between nations is established in a cultural context, it will be sustainable, peaceful and a source of development. In addition, science is an indicator of peace and sustainable development; provided it is accompanied by rationality. Today, more than ever, the international communities need to pay particular attention to the growing effect of science and culture on peace and development. In other words, scientific thinking must become a culture in order to play a key role in the development of countries.
Science, in all branches, literature and mysticism in particular, aims to promote the world peace. The paradigms of altruism and peacemaking are evident in the works of many literary figures of the ECO region. Hafez describes planting trees of friendship and uprooting the seedlings of enmity in the realization of peace and justice as follows:
درخت دوستی بنشان که کام دل به بار آرد نهال دشمنی برکن که رنــج بی شمــار آرد
And Saadi eloquently displays his resentment towards animosity:
هر چه خواهی کن که ما را با تو روی جنگ نیست پنجه با زور آوران انداختن فرهنگ نیست
Mowlana is also a messenger of peace and friendship; his poems abound with concepts of empathy and companionship of the wise to acquire knowledge in order to alleviate human suffering as he says:
"هم دلی از هم زبانی خوش تر است ".
Mowlana considers love and compassion and inner purity as the only way to attain peace:
" که از محبت خوارها گل می شود....."
He believes although the world is full of paradoxes, it does not lead towards separation but unity and perfection, this, in turn will end up in turning enmity to friendship.
Therefore, human societies can form closer bonds through the advancement of science and culture. If science and culture serve the lofty goals, including peace and development, their expansion and effectiveness will increase; because they are a prerequisite for public diplomacy and the most effective tool for exercising soft power in international relations. When relations between nations have been established in such a context, it has become stable, peaceful and a source of development; for the ultimate cultural relationship is the building of trust and the formation of a common understanding, and in a word, multilateralism and collective participation in the field of interactions.
Peace is the foundation for building a better world, and this is the lofty ideal that sustainable development seeks to achieve. In other words, world peace is impossible without realization of sustainable development. Injustice in one part of the world threatens justice in its other parts. The destiny of all human beings is intertwined through a network of global communication which demands mutual understanding. Hence, in the age of communication, we need to adopt a new approach in the field of humanism based on high human values to revive the fundamental human aspirations such as altruism, justice, mutual understanding and human dignity regardless of race, language, religion, gender, background and homeland. Focusing on commonalities and respecting cultural differences is essential for cross-cultural discourse among members of the international community, and also empowers nations, resulting in lasting peace and security in the world among societies.
In my opinion, a society could be considered civilized if only it is based on wisdom, science and rich culture. Fortunately, the nations of the ECO region share the greatest commonalities within their civilizations. These commonalities, which are a valuable legacy from our ancestors, have always been a message of peace, friendship and peaceful life in the region. Therefore, it is very important to take major measures to introduce the rich civilization of the region to the world. This is possible through the Silk Road. A road as long as the ancient history of the ECO region, which was formed primarily on the basis of trade, but became a platform for communication between peoples and nations of that time and a center of cultural interaction and exchange of ideas which left a lasting cultural heritage for West Asia. From this perspective, the peoples of the ancient lands, who speak different languages today and have separate national borders, benefit from a common historical background which involves the deep bonds of common identity, culture and history. This signifies the importance of the Road that once was the greatest crossroad of civilization of its time.
The Silk Road is an opportunity to communicate the rich culture and civilization of the nations of the region to other parts of the world. A road with a vast history and a symbol of peace and friendship between the nations of West Asia; A road that its economic prosperity has declined, but its lasting cultural richness made it enduring throughout history. Meanwhile, the major role of the ECO countries which are the center of security and friendship between nations in the region, is important in preparing the ground for international relations. With no doubt the scientific and cultural heritage is the historical link between the lands of the Silk Road, through which we can prepare the ground for joint cooperation on this road, revitalize the historical memory of the Great Silk Road, and by repeating the historical experience of the Silk Road, it would became a tourist and economic hub again and would begin a new chapter of scientific, cultural, and economic ties.
ECO Cultural Institute, in partnership with the other international bodies, exploiting the potentials of the countries along the Silk Road, seeks to accelerate the process of reviving this historic road and to maintain and promote solidarity among the nations of the region. Because the Silk Road is a symbol of convergence between different nations of the world, and today it is considered as a spiritual, historical and symbolic heritage which demands attention to establish sustainable and increasing international interaction. By the revival of the Silk Road, the ground for further convergence of the countries of this region is provided. Of course, the revival of the Silk Road does not only mean the revival of its structure, but also the revival of bonds, and through these bonds many cultural and economic structures will be formed, leading to the convergence between the nations of the countries along the Silk Road.
Today's scientific and cultural event is a reflection of the deep bonds between the countries of the ECO region. Therefore, I appreciate the efforts of the organizers of this successful scientific and cultural event. I hope that with the cooperation between universities and other international organizations, such measures will continue and positive steps will be taken for achieving regional and trans-regional goals.