13th Rhodes Forum is Opened

A Speech by the Founding President of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” Vladimir Yakunin at the opening ceremony of the 13th Annual Session of the Rhodes Forum, Castello, October 8, 2015, Rhodes (Greece)

Ladies and Gentlemen!
Dear friends!

Welcome to our regular annual session of the Rhodes Forum! Ahead of us, we have several days of very intense and meaningful work dedicated to our discussions and meetings. They have become not only our tradition, but our practice and a real action of the dialogue of civilizations. Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla wrote: “Not only the knowledge and science deserve praise or reprobation, but it is the outcome of the knowledge and science by way of goodwill.” I hope that all the participants of the Rhodes Forum 2015 are people of goodwill who share our commitment to the united efforts for the purpose of creating a more humane and dignified future. This is exceptionally important in the situation of today’s world.

We can clearly see the evident signs of the failure of the neo-liberal model of modern development everywhere. Social and economic inequality is only aggravating and the modern world is facing an unprecedented intensification of conflicts arising from various ethnic and religious fractures. The global disorder is visible in all aspects and spheres of human existence. The chaos is manifested in each and every of the existing cultures and civilizations. Those of us, who recognize that responsible behavior in this chaos is of paramount and primary importance, understand that now is the time to get together and undertake joint practical steps for implementing the alternative models of possible future that may lead the humankind to a more just and more sustainable world order.

The world outside the framework of the global disorder is being persistently offered only two options. It is either to join those forces, which have designed and developed a neo-liberal model of the world and offering everyone the values of a global armament protected consumerist society as a panacea, or to die in the chaos of the world wars, economic disasters, and environmental cataclysms. In this situation, to all the parties interested in a joint and coherent future the Rhodes Forum offers the third option. This option lays outside the framework of chaos imposed by neo-liberalism and authoritarian (hegemonic) rule. For more than fifteen consecutive years, common people and professional communities, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations expressing various opinions and different ideas get together at independent places, including the World Public Forum. This is a practical confirmation of our thesis saying that the way of the dialogue of civilizations is the only alternative to consumerism being imposed to the world by the force of arms. Our approach is an adequate means to correct and recast the existing global disorder.

How can the dialogue operate in the conditions when particular civilizations are making attempts to realize their hegemonic aspirations? Can the dialogue’s instruments and approaches provide for an effective reduction of conflicts in the world of hybrid wars and never-ending armed conflicts in the countries of West Asia and North Africa? Can various countries and civilizations coexist in financial prosperity and have a common economic future? These issues are included in the agenda of the Rhodes Forum and they will become a subject of our dedicated discussions this year during the 13th session.

I wish all the participants of our joint work on the development and promotion of dialogue to have fruitful and successful discussions, to be wise and patient as, according to the great philosopher Plato, “only the wise can achieve all what they wish, while the bad people usually do what their sensuality wants them to do; hence, they can not achieve what they really want to achieve.”