We will face migration during our whole lifetime. Therefore, we need to enrich our knowledge about other religions, other cultures; not to be afraid of them, but to communicate with them. We should not trust everything that produces fear, the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, said at today’s debate entitled “Migrant Crisis and Respect for Diversity: the Essence of Decent Public Debate”, organized by the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Macedonia in cooperation with the Balkan Institute for Faith and Culture.
This forum is organized within the initiative “Spiritual Dialogues” launched by the President of the Republic of Macedonia, aimed at contributing to the implementation of the goals of the National Strategy of the Republic of Macedonia to the Alliance of Civilizations, particularly in the areas of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and education.
In his speech, in which he addressed the humanitarian and security aspects of the migrant crisis, President Ivanov said that “People will have to face the fact that they need to talk, to communicate with others, with different, not just with people alike. It means we need to enrich our knowledge about other religions and cultures, not to be afraid of them, but to communicate with them”.
In his address, President Ivanov referred to the tradition of respect for diversity that exists in the Republic of Macedonia. “We have never had a tradition of tolerance, but we have the original tradition of respect. I respect you, so you respect me, too. It is a much higher philosophy of tolerance. We do not tolerate each other but respect. Throughout history people respected each other here. Hence, we managed to preserve all the different identities. Respecting others, you respect yourself. If you do not respect yourself, you cannot respect others? These traces have remained in our lives to this day”, President Ivanov said.
A guest speaker at the debate was Dr. Os Guinness, one of the most remarkable social commentators in the United States, who addressed issues related to the current migrant and refugee crisis and pointed to the need for real integration of diversity.
He referred to three issues related to migrant crisis: human dignity, state security and national identity. “Many countries today speak about terms like multiculturalism, political correctness etc. They all talk about diversity, but there is no real diversity therein. They offer freedoms for certain groups, but have not achieved real integration. It is a disservice to diversity because it only leads to tension. Therefore, we need leadership, courage and ability to communicate; we need a national understanding of what rights, obligations and respect are”, Dr. Guinness said, who is a frequent speaker and leader of seminars on political and business conferences in Europe and the US, and has addressed the British Parliament, the US Congress and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The forum was attended by representatives of competent state, educational, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations that are actively working in the field of inter-religious dialogue, as well as representatives of religious communities.