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Spotlight: Countries turn to cement cultural, economic ties as Ancient Civilization Forum opens

Xinhua, April 24, 2017 Adjust font size:

The first Ancient Civilization Forum kicked off here on Monday as countries representing early civilizations across the world aim to pool their wisdom together to address today's problems and challenges with stronger cultural and economic ties.

The forum, a Greek initiative with China as co-organizer, is attended by delegations from 10 countries representing major ancient civilizations. Other participants include Bolivia, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Mexico and Peru.

Beneath the towering Acropolis of Athens, delegations headed by foreign ministers of the 10 countries attended the two-day forum, which is "in a bid to promote cultural heritage and cooperation," according to the Greek government.

The forum took place at the magnificent Zappeion Megaron, a building of historic significance and an active part of Greece's history over the last 130 years.


The 10 countries represent more than 40 percent of the world population and are at the center of international political developments in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

In his welcoming address to the inauguration of the forum, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that dialogue and coordination of civilizations could help tackle today's challenges of war and terrorism, urging the crisis-hit Europe to retrieve its lost root of civilization -- peace and solidarity.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said in his opening speech that at a time of instability, ancient civilizations offer continuity and stability.

He said that the culture of compromise and consensus, ability to fight for justice should be needed.

The achievements of the past gain increasingly more value, not when one rests on one's laurels, but when they are utilized to form a better present and a more hopeful tomorrow and this is the aim of the forum, Kotzias said in his invitation to the participants.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told the forum that the cultural diversity of the world should be respected and treasured, since "if all flowers were of the same color, they will have not been attractive."

The minister condemned the Islamic State(IS) for devastating the cultural heritages in his country.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry said that the forum revives values that should be universal and a source of inspiration.

"At this time when the world is suffering from extremism of all kinds at the global level, we need the lessons we can draw from old civilizations," said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. "We can contribute by promoting dialogue and understanding."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told press at the end of Monday's forum that three consensus including peace, inclusiveness and cooperation have been achieved by the ministers.


At Monday's ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the forum, the ministers stressed the common vision to utilize cultural heritage to promote friendly relations, international cooperation, peace, stability and prosperity.

Foreign ministers attending the meeting reached the consensus that the so-called "clash of civilizations" can be avoided through dialogue and cooperation.

Greek diplomats said it was the first time that countries from four continents meet around the same table for a cultural initiative, aiming to form a "positive agenda" of cooperation.

Although the countries participating in the forum come from different geographical areas and cultures, they are all considered cradles of ancient cultures and are coming together to discuss issues such as the "role of culture as a source of soft power and the key tool of a modern and multidimensional foreign policy," the Independent Balkan News Agency reported.

Another aim of the forum is to highlight the international cultural cooperation as a factor for economic development.

"Civilization brings diversity closer, it is a source of wealth," Kotzias said, "Civilization is both global power and financial power, creating jobs, promoting economy. "

In his meeting with Greek leaders and foreign ministers from other countries, the Chinese foreign minister stressed the ongoing forum derives from the same origin as the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in the sense that they both provide thoughts and culture for the cooperation of countries across the world with focuses on peaceful development and common prosperity.

Wang said the 10 countries convene to derive "nutrition" from their ancient values and civilizations to realize their own development, provide solutions to today's world challenges as well as explore new development path for the all human beings.

China advocates that different civilizations should understand and be tolerant of each other to promote common development, he said.

"Only through dialogue of different civilizations can we maintain regional and global stability," he added.

He stressed that only through peaceful means should all the disputes and conflicts be addressed as "dialogues" should serve as the bridge.

"China has been treasuring peace but also respecting the differences and diversity of different cultures and civilizations, " Wang said. "The whole world, whose fate has never been so closely knitted, is a community of common destiny. "

He called on all the countries to reject "conflicts of civilization", transcend social and ideological differences and prejudices.

The senior Chinese diplomat also urged all the present countries to join hands to strengthen their cooperation, so as to achieve common prosperity and development.

"We should inherit our traditional cultures, remain confidence and respect and honor each others' social system and development path," Wang said. Endit