Seekıng Identıty Between Modernısm And Tradıtıonalısm

Opening Speech

Mr. Chairman, First of all let me thank you for invitation. For me it is a great honor to take part in such important event as a First World Turkic Forum. I would like to correct the program; I am a former Minister for Human Rights and Minorities of Czech Republic....

Mr. Chairman,

First of all let me thank you for invitation. For me it is a great honor to take part in such important event as a First World Turkic Forum.  I would like to correct the program; I am a former Minister for Human Rights and Minorities of Czech Republic.

I was born in Kazakhstan in Central Asia and second half of my life resides in Czech Republic in Central Europe. On the emotional level I deal with feelings of “longing” and “desire” for my country of origin and at the same time I was able to look ahead to a new life. That one physically cannot be in two places at the same time is one of the saddest truths of life. But one´s spirit can be in more than one place at a time! Communications make it easier for us to be at the same time members of more than one society without relinquishing our national identities, language or culture. We must take advantage of the very powerful network of communication that we have today such as Internet in order to promote our common values, to promote humanity. I am both an European and an Asian citizen, I am both Czech and Kazak or I am Kazak citizen of Czech Republic. Maintaining multiple identities helped me to speak for ethnic minority groups themselves during the two years of holding ministerial office in Czech government. I am Czech Green Party member. My Kazak background seems to have given me an immediate sensitivity to protect human rights of all minorities.

Since 1989 Czech Republic and other nation states of Central Europe were able to enjoy their independence and national integrity after years of Soviet domination. They were also integrated into European Union. European Union has a role to raise the voice of democracy to be its watch tower, to build a culture of dialogue and peace, to protect the values of humanism, liberty, democracy, respect of human rights and the rule of law. In accordance with the principle “unity in diversity” the Union promotes the diversity of its cultures. After entering the European Union, the nation states of Central and Eastern Europe shifted from societies based on emigration to once based on immigration. Unfortunately this shift has not been fully accepted in European public opinion. Even in Germany, the biggest receiving country, this concept is resisted by the part of the society. In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, isolated for many years by the Iron Curtain, this idea is even more alien for the part of the society. These societies view themselves as culturally homogenous and, indeed, there is to some extend a xenophobic and nationalistic reactions against the idea of multicultural societies, although this is not as strong in terms of political movements  as it has been in other West European countries. Nevertheless, the resistance to the recognition of more than one culture within the state border is a potential source of tension.

In this context part of my sense of mission as Minister for Human Rights and Minorities of Czech Republic was to reflect and present the values of empowerment of ethnic minorities, of cultural diversity, of tolerance and last but not least – of human rights.

First value is empowerment of ethnic minority groups and protection against discrimination. When immigrants like me have entered the public arena, when they are capable of speaking for themselves, it implies our empowerment. The protagonists are pioneers: the living proof that against all odds with much hard work and faith in yourself, in democratic society, you could achieve something as an immigrant; you could be a member of government. We were also role models, because, despite our careers, we remained loyal to our own ethnic or racial group, to our traditional values, to our cultures.

The second core value is cultural diversity. On the one hand, diversity was to be embraced for its intrinsic genuine worth, for its enrichment of Czech or other European societies. On the other hand, diversity was to be applauded because of its instrumental value: a diverse team of co-workers, for instance, would promote creativity, flexibility and efficiency. I think that in a time of globalization such as ours we must safeguard diversity.

One of the most important values is openness and tolerance.  If culturally sensitive behavior is our goal, we must first of all create an interspaced for people to meet, recognize and acknowledge their similarities and differences. So we who live and work in other countries must build bridges between our cultures, between Turkic world and European world.

Presently I would like to re-tell my life story. My aspiration would be that this story is not about me, but about all the people living between two cultures, between different systems of values. I would like to present the problems of immigrants as generated by the opposition between “traditional” and “modern” ways of life. In process of modernization and globalization even Western individuals are being uprooted. Sometimes moral discussion about values in Europe seems more like a tower of Babel than a reflection of an objective moral law that we can discover, either by an appeal to religion or by purely rational consideration. In my story I would like to prove that it is possible to be the part of contemporary European society and to be loyal to the traditional norms, beliefs and values. It is not necessary to cut the umbilical cord between migrants past and present for the successful integration. The past is not merely something that defines or constrains us; it is something to take with us, and to cherish along the way.

To conclude, our duty is to stimulate dialogue and to build bridges between people, between different cultures to promote democracy, rule of law and humanity as a system of values that in all cultures celebrates our being human in order to contribute to a peaceful societies and sustainable and cooperative international community.

 

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Action
 Content ( 612 ) Event ( 165 )
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Asia 69 278
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Islamic World 51 329
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Turkey 49 362

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