Mintimer Shaimiev: “Establishing a dialogue between peoples is a global task!”

The first president of the republic reminds about the centuries-old traditions of peaceful coexistence of cultures, peoples and religions in Tatarstan

The III international forum of writers and intellectuals “Aitmatov Readings — For Dialogue of Cultures” dedicated to the theme “Human and culture in the era of global changes” opened at the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan on 25 October. During the plenary session of the forum, State Advisor of Tatarstan, first President of the Republic of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev spoke about how different cultures coexist peacefully in the republic and conduct a respectful and constructive dialogue with each other.

Chingiz Aytmatov is a writer and diplomat

Aitmatov Readings are dedicated to the memory of the world-famous Soviet writer Chingiz Aitmatov, recognized as a classic during his lifetime. His works, written in Russian and Kyrgyz, have been translated into 170 languages and published a total circulation of more than 100 million copies. The forum Aitmatov Readings — For Dialogue of Cultures is held with the support of the strategic vision group Russia-Islamic World. Its chairman at the moment is President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov, and Chingiz Aitmatov, who often acted not only as a writer but also as a politician, diplomat, statesman, was at the origins of the establishment of the group.

Before the plenary session, the participants and guests of the forum, representatives of almost two dozen countries, visited the exhibition The Universe of Chingiz Aitmatov. Here, they had the opportunity to get acquainted with the main works of the writer and the studies of other authors devoted to his life and work.

Opening the forum, President of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences Myakzyum Salakhov noted that all problems of the modern world were reflected in the works of Chingiz Aitmatov.

“It is no coincidence that researchers pay close attention to Aitmatov's works. We are grateful to leading scientists, cultural figures and writers from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and other countries, as well as numerous Russian cities for taking the time to come to Kazan for the Aitmatov Readings dedicated to the theme ‘Human and Culture in the Era of Global Change’,” Salakhov noted.

Tatarstan as a model of constructive intercultural dialogue

The first President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev reminded about the importance of building a constructive intercultural, interethnic and interfaith dialogue.

“Aitmatov Readings are aimed at solving the urgent problem: to establish a dialogue of cultures, a dialogue between peoples — it is a global task. Because it is a powerful soft power, only through it, it is possible to find a common language in this contradictory world,” Mintimer Shaimiev believes. “Russia had lived in atheism for 70 years. Once, as part of the work of the strategic group Russia-Islamic World, I spoke in Kuwait and told the audience that by the beginning of perestroika there had been only 23 mosques in Tatarstan. When I added that at the time of the speech they were already 1,400 (and now much more) — the audience gave a rapturous ovation. I concluded that speech with the words ‘Faith is indestructible.”

“At the same time, Tatarstan,” reminded Mintimer Shaimiev, “is an example of inter-confessional and inter-ethnic respect in various aspects.”

“When we decided to build Kul Sharif Mosque, the same decree included the need to restore the Annunciation Cathedral,” Shaimiev reminded. “The decision to revive Bolgar as the Islamic spiritual centre was made simultaneously with the decision to restore the Christian sites in Sviyazhsk. Now we are engaged in the reconstruction of the Cathedral of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God — one of the main Orthodox shrines.”

Before his death, Aitmatov wanted to visit the graves of his ancestors in Tatarstan

Mintimer Shaimiev also told about his acquaintance with Chingiz Aitmatov. According to the first president of Tatarstan, he is glad that he was honoured to communicate with the writer. Mintimer Shaimiev recalled how in 2008, on the eve of his death, Aitmatov came to Tatarstan to visit the graves of his mother's ancestors in the villages of Burbash and Maskara. Already in Kazan, his illness worsened, and the writer had to be urgently taken for treatment in Germany, where he later died.

Director General of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) Halit Eren from Turkey became the guest of honour of the forum Aitmatov Readings — For Dialogue of Cultures. He reminded about the huge contribution of Chingiz Aitmatov to the development of intercultural dialogue.

“It is a great honour for me to be with you at the International forum of writers and intellectuals Aitmatov Readings — For Dialogue of Cultures in Kazan — the city of culture, civilization, intellectual improvement and peaceful coexistence. The Muslim communities in Russia and Central Asia have a rich historical and cultural heritage. They have similar features of language, social traditions and faith. At the same time, they tolerate the existence of other languages, cultures and religious communities. All this is reflected in the works of the world-famous novelist and diplomat Chingiz Aitmatov,” said Halit Eren in his speech.

“It is interesting that Aitmatov was both a great novelist and a talented diplomat. He served as Ambassador of the USSR and Kyrgyzstan, was elected a deputy of the Kyrgyz parliament. He is known for his endless efforts for international dialogue and peaceful coexistence of different cultures. He participated in the creation of the strategic vision group Russia-Islamic World. After the meeting of the group in Istanbul in February 2007, Aitmatov visited the headquarters of IRCICA and personally expressed his support for the activities of our centre aimed at preserving cultural heritage and intercultural dialogue,” added Halit Eren.

By Vitaly Akhmerov. Photo:

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