It is a privilege to participate in this European Leadership conference here in Vienna, co-sponsored by the Women’s Federation for World Peace and the Academic Council on the United Nations System. We held a similar event in Moscow last April, where distinguished public figures and academics from Europe and Eurasia – including many of you - shared ideas and experiences on the topic of peace and security in multicultural societies. In his letter to our Moscow participants, Dr. Walter Schwimmer summarized well the spirit of this dialogue, and wrote: “To achieve unity in diversity, Europe needs Russia, Russia needs Europe… there can be no Russia without Europe, and no Europe without Russia”. I am glad that the dialogue continues here in Vienna, and that new and prominent participants are joining in.
Our Eurasia chapter covers all countries of the former Soviet Union, Mongolia and China, and our Headquarters is located in Moscow. We consider that Russia’s contribution to peace in our globalized world is of utmost significance. It is not only the largest country in the world by size, but it also links Europe with Asia and the Pacific Realm. Accordingly, when our Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon first visited Moscow in 1990 and met with President Gorbachev, he expressed his vision that the moral and economic renaissance of the Soviet Union would affect the entire world.
Not long ago, before he passed away, he encouraged our two UPF chapters of Europe and Eurasia to hold joint meetings, emphasising the fact that Europe and Russia have a common destiny and a joint responsibility for global peace in the 21st century. As it occurs, Russia’s recent access to the World Trade Organization will certainly open up a whole new potential in bilateral relations.
I am personally very pleased to visit Austria for the first time, as it has been in so many ways a great center in European history. As I understand, the uniqueness of Austria’s relations with Russia - their recent history, their privileged trade relations, and the importance of the Russian community in this country - make Vienna a very appropriate location for this meeting, and offer quite a positive environment for dialogue between Russia and the European Community.
UPF is working throughout the world with the vision that, although serious conflicts affect many parts of the globe, opportunities for world peace are today unprecedented. The ideal which we call “One Family under God” guides all our peacemaking activities, whether it is interfaith dialogue, cooperation with the UN, or strengthening marriage and family. Our basic philosophy is that living for the sake of the greater purpose is the only way to solve problems afflicting humankind, and the only path to peace.
In this regard, let me conclude with a remark on the recent APEC Summit in Vladivostok, where Russia announced a plan to accelerate its integration and expand its trade with the Asia-Pacific Region. Some commentators see this new development as a challenge to the partnership between Europe and Russia. Instead, we may see it as a strengthening of Russia’s position as a link between Europe, Asia and the Pacific Realm – and a significant step toward a more peaceful world.
In his UPF inauguration speech and subsequent world tour in 2005, our Founder emphasized that Russia should not only link Europe with Asia, but also with the North American continent, by building a bridge or tunnel at the Bering Strait. He has been actively promoting and supporting this endeavor. It is part of the greater vision of an international highway for peace that would connect the world from Capetown, South Africa to Santiago, Chile, running of course through Europe, and which would be like a modern, global version of the “Silk Road”, aimed at stimulating not only economic exchange and regional development but also the crossing of peoples and cultures.
As you may know, what has long been just a dream to connect Eurasia and North America by a road link at the Bering Strait is now gradually taking shape, through active discussion and planning, at least on the Russian side.
Distinguished guests and dear participants, I wish you fruitful discussions during the coming two days. I hope that our conference can enhance Europe and Russia’s partnership, and contribute to a more peaceful world.