Jeddah (UNA-OIC) – The meeting of the Group of Strategic Vision (GSV) “Russia – Islamic World”, to be hosted in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, next Wednesday, under the theme “Dialogue and Prospects for Cooperation”, will give a strong impetus to the Russian-Islamic world strategic relations, and the initiatives instituted by Saudi Arabia to promote dialogue between followers of religions and cultures.
The Saudi Ambassador to the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus, Abdulrahman Al Ahmed, revealed that the meeting will discuss new opportunities for interaction between the Russian Federation and Islamic countries, in addition to a number of urgent topics on the international agenda.
He noted that a session will be organized on “Russia – Islamic world: Prospects for forming new models of development” to talk about and defend cultural and moral values, in addition to developing and implementing joint programs to promote ideas of cultural, spiritual and religious diversity in the modern world and activate regional cooperation.
In his article published in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s International Life magazine, Ambassador Al Ahmed indicated that among the urgent international issues that GSV pays attention to are the fight against terrorism, international peace and security, the role of international organizations in the peaceful settlement of conflicts, and the culture of promoting peace and economic cooperation in the post-COVID-19 world, dialogue, cultural and human rapprochement, among others.
In the article, which was carried by the Saudi embassy in Russia, Al-Ahmed stressed that the Kingdom, within the context of strengthening its relations with Russia, is keen to participate in all the GSV’s meetings, believing in the objectives and purposes of the Group. He affirmed that serving Islam and Muslims has been and remains the focus of the Saudi leaders’ attention since the era of the Kingdom’s founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman to the present day under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The ambassador reiterated that the Kingdom has the honor to serve the Two Holy Mosques and to host the headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Muslim World League (MWL) while committing to providing them with full support, based on the Kingdom’s consistent policy in serving the issues of Islam and Muslims, and its belief in the important role played by the two organizations in defending the causes of Islam and Muslims.
“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also keen on spreading the culture of coexistence, mutual understanding and tolerance among religions, as well as spreading peace, supporting humanitarian and relief works in the world, and combating terrorism and extremism at various regional and international levels,” Al Ahmed added, citing the Kingdom’s initiative to establish the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).
The Saudi ambassador expressed the hope that the meeting would result in joint and effective action to push the Group’s goals forward and support opportunities for dialogue, cooperation and peace.
For his part, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OIC Ramazan G. Abdulatipov affirmed, in statements to the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA) today, that the GSV “Russia – Islamic world” has significantly strengthened the Islamic vector of Russia’s foreign policy.
He stated that the Group has implemented many significant projects, in particular the “International Economic Kazan Summit”, which brought together representatives from more than 100 countries and territories of the world, adding that the forum is the most effective platform for cooperation between Islamic states.
“Russia, historically, closely interacts with the Islamic world. Islam came to Russia, to Derbent, which has always been called the Caucasus Jerusalem, since the seventh century. In addition, next year we celebrate 1100 years of Islam in the Volga Bulgaria (Tatarstan),” the Russian diplomat said.
“Also, historically Russia has a Muslim population – about 20 million. Once our President said that Russia is not only a great Christian state, but also a great Muslim state. Hence there is the initiative of President Vladimir Putin on Russia’s joining the OIC,” he continued.
Abdulatipov went on to say that “last year we celebrated the 15th anniversary of our membership in this largest Muslim organization in the world. Thanks to this, the format of economic, cultural and political interaction between Russia and the Islamic world has expanded.”
The GSV “Russia – Islamic world” was created in 2006 under the leadership of Evgeny Maksimovich Primakov and Mintimer Sharipovich Shaimiev after the Russian Federation joined the OIC as an observer state in 2005. The Group is currently focused on developing measures to strengthen long-term cooperation between Russia and Islamic countries, coordinating joint actions to combat international terrorism, and practical implementation of the strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Islamic world.
GSV has held annual periodic meetings, starting with the Moscow meeting that was held in 2006, dubbed the “Meeting of the Elders”, followed by the meetings in Kazan (Tatarstan capital), Istanbul (Turkey), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait, Grozny (capital of Chechnya), and Ufa (capital of Bashkortostan), with the participation of a group of former and current senior officials, scholars and thinkers from Russia and Muslim countries.
These meetings were devoted to discussing issues such as the inter-civilizational dialogue, confronting terrorism and extremism, as well as the future of Russia-Islamic world relations and ways to develop them.
In 2014, President Putin made the decision on renewal of activity of the Strategic Vision Group, having assigned the duties of its chairman to President of Tatarstan Rustam Nurgaliyevich Minnikhanov, who was keen to develop the plans and initiatives approved by his predecessor to strengthen trade, economic, scientific, technical, social and cultural ties between Russia and the OIC member states. Among the most notable of these initiatives is the regularity of holding an annual economic summit in Kazan, to strengthen the economic cooperation between Russia and the Islamic world.
On 28-30 November 2019, Ufa hosted the fifth annual meeting of the GSV “Russia-Islamic world” dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the OIC. The meeting was held under the theme “Interfaith harmony: The Experience of Russia and Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation”.