During the ten years of its existence, the Forum has achieved some important, tangible results. The annual autumn session on the island of Rhodes, site of the first of the WPF’s events, has contributed to the formation of an international network of experts. This network continues to grow and coordinate a multitude of activities focused on promoting the idea of dialogue. The annual meetings at Rhodes represent a major event for the WPF and continue to present an open platform for discussions, where experience is exchanged and the true spirit of dialogue is developed.
Every autumn since 2003 the ancient Greek island of Rhodes has hosted a session of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” called the Rhodes Forum. This annual meeting brings together public figures and statesmen, academics, religious figures and representatives of the arts, mass media and business spheres from all over the world. The sessions of the Rhodes Forum have proved the urgency, importance, and efficacy of the WPF’s ideals by brining the focus of world public opinion to bear on the need for inter-cultural and inter-civilizational dialogue. The results achieved by the Forum thus far provide hope for further harmonization of international relations and promotion of global stability.
The participants of the Forum's programs and of the Rhodes Forum believe that constructive dialogue among cultures and civilizations is quite possible. According to Vladimir Yakunin, the World Public Forum operates in an international atmosphere that seems to suggest that quite the opposite is the case, but meeting at the Forum's events, the representatives of different civilizations have reaffirmed that beyond the political sphere, a dialogue on the level of civil society is not only desirable and necessary, but it is also practically possible.
“Now the logic of the Forum's development has led us to the need of making this dialogue more substantial. Dialogue of Civilizations is called upon to develop a new culture of international partnership, co-operation and interaction. It has to foster new values and bring in new goals for the international community.” — WPF Founding President Vladimir Yakunin.
In March 2005, Cuba hosted the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” international conference entitled “Latin America in the 21st century: Universalism and Originality.” The subject of this meeting was the current situation in Latin America, a region that is undergoing a process of civilizational self-determination. One of the main achievements of the conference was situating the most important Latin American issues within the international context. Participants of the conference declared their intention to defend freedom of social choice and multipolarity within the world community.
In November 2005 participants of the World Public Forum joined the annual Intercontinental Convention on Psychology and Human Science “HOMINIS'05” which traditionally attracts the attention of leading experts in the field.
One of the main components of the World Public Forum's activity is the development of intercultural contacts. One of the platforms for facilitating intercultural dialogue is through the arts. The WPF proudly supported the 11thInternational Havana Poetry Festival, which took place in June 2006 and brought together over 100 poets from 28 countries.
India — a country with a rich culture and history — is one of the most active participants of the World Public Forum. One of the WPF’s first conferences was held in December 2004 at Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and was dedicated to dialogue in the context of globalization. An edition of the book “Wings of Fire” written by President of India Abdul Kalam was presented at this conference.
On January 24 – 26, 2007 the conference “Development Model and Global Integration” was held in Jawaharlal Nehru University. The conference was co-organized by JNU, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” and the Indian NGO “Eurasian Foundation”. More than 200 representatives of scientific, public and political spheres took part in the event. Participants examined the main principles and instruments of civilizational analysis of national development projects.
The conclusion was drawn that it is the new figures in the system of global interaction who are making the most active efforts in this direction. It is Russia, India, China and several other countries who, to a considerable degree, share responsibility for becoming the prospective bearers of the burden of multilateral development of human society in the coming century.
On January 26th, conference participants attended a presentation of a project on “Russian Civilization”. This was the result of cooperative research involving the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Center of Russian and Central-Asian Research and WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations”. In this work a panorama of Russian Civilization in a wider historical context was presented.
Promoting intercultural dialogue is not the only aim of the World Public Forum. It is also actively engaged in establishing and developing economic relations among various regions of the world, especially in Europe. In May 2004, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, hosted the international conference “Europe in the 21st Century: the Crossroads of Civilizations.” Over the course of the conference, which gathered representatives of the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, the USA and other countries, former Prime-minister of the Czech Republic Milo? Zeman explained that relations between Russia and the European Union in the sphere of economy and culture significantly influence European civilization, and that the European Union has to collaborate with Russia more actively.
Two years later, in May 2006, under the aegis of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations,” Prague welcomed the International Congress of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs for a conference “East-West: Integration and Development.” The congress brought together entrepreneurs from the Czech Republic and Russia. The main goal of this meeting was to discuss questions related to the intensification of economic relations between Russia and the European Union and the development of business relations among representatives of the Russian and Czech business communities. Honorary guest of the Congress, Prime-Minister of the Czech Republic Jiri Paroubek, presented the Czech government's strategy of widening economic cooperation with Russia. The participants of the Congress came to the conclusion that it is possible to face the challenges of global economy only if the international business community will have a clear vision of the development problems in particular regions.
The International Conference “Prague Dialogue on Europe in the 21st Century” was held in Prague, Czech Republic on May 13-15, 2009. The conference was convened by the WPF and the Czech NGO “Club Russia” and took place in the oldest friary in Bohemia, the Brevnov Monastery. The Conference was held under the aegis of the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic Parliament Miloslav Vl?ek and co-chaired by former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Milo? Zeman and WPF Founding President Vladimir Yakunin.
The main aim of the Conference in Prague was to discuss modern socio-political trends and the innovational development of Europe. Topics covered included potential for development in conditions of world economy crisis, governmental impact on public development, international cooperation and inter-confessional dialogue, involvement of youth in current processes, social risks and international mobility problems.
The Conference was attended by the President of the International Progress Organization Dr. Hans Koechler, Co-chair of the Association for International Mobility Brunson McKinley, Metropolitan Christopher of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and other prominent politicians, representatives of business and economic spheres, non-governmental organizations, academic institutes and research centers.
On March 13-14, 2007, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” organized an international seminar under the aegis of UNESCO. The event took place in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The subject of the seminar was “Dialogue of Cultures and Civilizations: A Bridge Between Human Rights and Moral Values.” Participants from more than 30 countries took part in the event. The program of the seminar comprised two plenary meetings and three round tables with the following agendas: “Human rights in the context of cultural and outlook diversity,” “The role of government bodies, civil society, schools and the media in the dialogue of cultures and civilizations,” and “Challenges of global mobility: promoting ‘living together’ principles and strategies.”
The aim of the Paris seminar was to study the correlation between human rights and cultural values, between the set of formal human rights and the notions of moral dignity of individuals that exist in different human cultures and civilizations. As a follow up to this seminar, the WPF and UNESCO convened an international conference, “Ancient Civilizations, New Beginnings: a Dialogue of Change,” in December 2007.
On June 4-5, 2007, WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” organized the International Regional Conference “European Civilization Space: Baltic Dialogue” in Tampere, Finland. More than two hundred participants took part in the conference.
Participants of the conference focused on the prospects of cooperation in the field of innovations, energy and transport. Problems of interrelations and mutual subordination among the regional economic dialogue's subjects were recognized. Experts considered it to be necessary to avoid both excessive politicization and superfluous commercialization of regional cooperation, and also to combine the region's economic development with the ensuring of its ecological security.
Discussing the common features of the legal culture of Baltic States the participants underlined the influence of various national legal schools and traditions on its development. Relations of Russia and Finland were mentioned as a positive example of relations between EU-countries and the Russian Federation.
On May 19, 2011, around 2,500 visitors accepted the WPF’s invitation to the third “Cultures Invite to Table” event in Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Park. With music, dance and culinary delights from all over the world, people came together to celebrate the diversity of cultures and helped to ensure that the festival was a success. A highlight was the dinner of the Ambassadors at the Partners of All Nations table.
The work of World Public Forum is particularly active in the Middle East, a region that especially suffers from the lack of understanding between cultures and civilizations. Every year the Rhodes Forum devotes a special section to the issues of stability in the region and working out recommendations to the practical settling of current problems.
A special round-table on Christian — Muslim dialogue was held in Jordan in May 2006.
An international conference of the Word Public Forum took place in Manama city (Kingdom of Bahrain) between 27 and 30 January 2008. “Bahrain Dialogue of Civilizations” was held under the patronage of the country's Prime-Minister Sheikh Khalifa Salman Al Khalifa with more than 400 participants from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Russia, including leading Russian experts in economics, sociology, natural sciences, interreligious relations, medicine, as well as experts and representatives of the Council of the Gulf Countries.
All the discussions, plenary sessions, and scientific seminars of the conference were held in an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding between representatives of different countries. Vectors for further development of dialogue and cooperation were set and many offers of new joint projects were presented. Thus, following the results of the conference, a General Agreement of Cooperation was signed between the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations.”
An international conference “Education as a Dialogue Model of Social Development” took place in Ottawa, Canada on June 11–13, 2008. The conference was organized by the WPF “Dialogue of Civilizations” and Carleton University (Ottawa) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Canada and the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Canada.
More than 100 leading experts on economics, education and migration policy from Russia, Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Austria, and Great Britain took part in the working sessions.
“Our conference is about our life today, how we want to live tomorrow, so that our children do not live under the conditions of our predatory century, so that consumerism is not dominating their minds, so that they can focus on moral and spiritual values. Environmental problems are perceived when there is no water to drink or when you have to drink water which is not suitable for that. And it is awful when society's degradation comes and the soul is empty. Only education can help us to understand the complicated problems of our century and not to allow a spiritual vacuum to come into souls and minds of people.” - WPF General Secretary Oleg Atkov, conference opening speech.
Discussion of today's world economic system characterized by a series of crises identified a number of deep contradictions between reality and the potential benefits of globalization argued by its proponents. As participants emphasized, today neither global finance, nor international organizations, nor transnational corporations are able to solve many of the world's problems, including climate change, depletion of non-renewable resources, poverty and inequity in social-and-economic development of various countries and regions, and the availability and safety of new technologies.
“The key result of this meeting is that we have opened this region for dialogue of civilizations and will come back here. The current forum — the first one in the North America — is characterized by the fact that experts from different countries had many things to say each other and all of them were ready for open discussions.” - WPF Executive Director Vladimir Kulikov.
The International Conference “Role of Historical and Cultural Heritage in the Dialogue of Civilizations” was held in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan on June 8-11, 2009. The Conference was supported by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Ruling Party of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Nur-Otan,” and the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhstan Conference gathered representatives of non-governmental, non-commercial organizations, experts from scientific institutes and research centers, and leading politicians. It focused on such subjects as the role of common history and cultural heritage of peoples in mutual coexistence and dialogue of civilizations. Participants discussed new perspectives on the development of understanding and good relations in Central Asia.
The history and culture of the Chinese civilization, spanning thousands of years, is a fertile ground for implementing the “dialogue of civilizations” principles. At the Fifth Rhodes Forum Session in 2007, a presentation on Chinese civilization in the context of global dialogue was made. The development of modern China, its influence on global geopolitical processes and the formation of new global standards were discussed at a special round table with the participation of representatives of Chinese civil society and of the scientific and political communities.
The World Public Forum traditionally works with prominent Chinese non-governmental organizations. On June 2, 2009, the Moscow WPF headquarters were visited by a delegation from the Soong Ching Ling Foundation.
The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” delegation, headed by WPF General Secretary Oleg Atkov, visited China between November 1-8, 2009. The delegation met with Chinese non-governmental organizations and research institutes in Beijing and Shanghai. A meeting with Chinese Foundation for International Studies president Zhang Deguang was held in Beijing on November 2, 2009.
On November 3 the delegation met with China Soong Ching Ling Foundation Vice Chairman Liang Jinquan. A cooperation memorandum between China Soong Ching Ling Foundation and WPF "Dialogue of Civilizations" was signed during the meeting.
The WPF together with the Chinese Foundation of International Research convened the international conference “Dialogue of Civilizations and a Harmonious World” on July 11-13, 2010 in Beijing.
The main question on the agenda of the conference concerned the discussion of new approaches to the post-crisis world order, and an evaluation of the international role of countries from the euro-pacific regions in their decision making relating to global questions. The discussion centered on a harmonized coexistence among a diversity of cultures, the role of Chinese and Slavic cultures in the contemporary world, and aspects of the East–West dialogue.
Leaders of the scientific-research centers of China and a number of leading experts in the area of international research and strategic development from Russia, India, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, USA and Canada participated in the conference proceedings.
The implementation of the conference was an important step towards the unification of intellectual and economic resources needed for the advancement of new relations between countries of the euro-pacific region.
The conference “Russia–China Economic Cooperation in World Economic System Transformations” was organized by the Russian Public Foundation “Dialogue of Civilizations” and Shanghai Institute for International Studies in Shanghai on July 15 – 17, 2010.
More than 30 experts from the Chinese Academy of Public Sciences, the Chinese Institute of International Studies, the Institute of Contemporary International Relations Studies, and different research institutes from Shanghai participated in the conference. Experts from Russia in the fields of international relations, the global economy, and Russia-China economic cooperation took part the conference.
The First WPF Summit in Vienna
The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations,” under the patronage of UNESCO, convened a meeting of high-level experts to discuss the most pressing socio-cultural problems facing the world today in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna on November 10, 2008.
The meeting, which brought together about 40 experts, high-ranking politicians and public dignitaries from around the world, focused on the most current problems that have been prompted by globalization and aggravated by the current financial-economic situation facing the world.
After the conclusion of the Vienna meeting, the International “Dialogue of Civilizations” Award was given to the Federal Chancellor of Austria Dr. Alfred Gusenbauer. At the ceremony, the WPF Secretary General Oleg Atkov announced that the WPF Prize was presented to the Austrian Federal Chancellor “for strengthening peace and mutual understanding among peoples.” He stated that the organizers of the Forum view the new Laureate as a European leader who, over the course of many years, has made a major personal contribution to the elaboration and practical implementation of the ideas of a dialogue among civilizations and cultures.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Gusenbauer pointed out that he views the Prize not only as a personal award, but also “as an award for the whole of Austria for its role as an international mediator.”
“This is also an award to Vienna which has always been ready to receive all those who call for peace and a dialogue,” the Chancellor emphasized.