Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the last two days, we have devoted our time and strength to exchange views on current trends in inter-cultural and inter-faith cooperation, especially in the Asia-Pacific region and to explore practical ways to build mutual trust and acceptance for the stability and prosperity of the APEC region.
In the spirit of trust and understanding, we managed to settle the diversity of perspectives that came to light during our deliberations.
I learn that some comments or statements on particular issues during the discussions at the Plenary Sessions as well as in two Interactive Working Groups had stirred serious debate. Yet again, in the spirit of mutual respect, delegations were able to reach mutual understanding and a sort of convergence of knowledge.
I cannot thank all speakers enough for their enlightening presentations, and all participants for their active participation.
You should all be commended for your strong endeavor to bring forward a set of recommendations that are applicable to the need of the Asia Pacific community building. We have been able to generate workable short, medium, and long-term recommendations that reflect the needs and interests of APEC members to build mutual trust and acceptance, in accordance with APEC's mission to pursue stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When APEC was founded in 1989 to promote trade and other forms of economic cooperation in this region, the founding members had no illusion that this would be an easy task in the light of the region's immense variety. From the very beginning it was understood that there was a great potential for misunderstanding and tension among the member economies.
It has greatly helped, of course, that there are in the public and civic sectors of the regional countries a strong advocacy for peace and tolerance. Economic cooperation, after all, can thrive only in an atmosphere of peace.
Hence, although APEC was founded for purposes of intensifying cooperation in trade and investment in the region, the APEC process has in recent years begun to take up matters related to security and peace because of their impact on the regional economies.
From what I learned in the last two days, there are at least two reasons why it is also appropriate and timely that within the APEC process, we should begin a dialogue among the cultures and faiths represented in the region.
First, such a dialogue can make a robust contribution to the maintenance of peace and stability, which in turn will have a positive impact on the growth of economic cooperation in the APEC region. There is indeed both truth and wisdom in the theme of this Symposium: "Building mutual trust and acceptance for the stability and prosperity of the APEC region." Trust, after all, is what makes trade and investment possible.
Second, culture itself has a great deal to do with economic success. On the whole, the world's most successful economies are those that have in their respective unique ways cultivated the virtues of honesty, fair-dealing, frugality, hard work, patience, perseverance and tolerance.
When cultures come in touch with each other, and absorb what is good from each other, the result is an invigoration of the values and virtues that contribute to economic success. Accordingly, a dialogue among cultures and faiths such as this Symposium has a greater relevance to the economic objectives of APEC than readily meets the eye.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Being the first of its kind in APEC, the symposium has covered a wide range of issues. In our session on the current trends and issues relating to culture, faith, and civilization in the Asia-Pacific region, we have been made knowledgeable of the dynamics between cultures, faiths, and civilization within the global and the Asia Pacific contexts.
We have also explored diverse approaches taken by economies and the civil society on the issue as well as lessons learned from other Interfaith Dialogue activities in the region. In doing so, we have shared the region's perspective on the relationship of culture, faith, and civilization.
Linkages with other relevant international initiatives and the complementary role which APEC could play in the global effort of building a culture of peace and understanding are also among the topics we elaborated yesterday.
In the parallel working groups, we discussed issues relating to current challenges in building mutual trust, understanding and respect within APEC. We all agree that the task ahead is arduous, but not an impossible one. Our sessions also provided us with the opportunity to exchange views on how to translate concepts into practical actions in our endeavor to enhance the sense of community in various fields.
Through these parallel working groups we came into an understanding that there is a strong need for the building of mutual trust, understanding, and respect within APEC members in order to establish an enabling environment in the efforts to attain the Bogor goals. We also discussed works, current and future, within the framework of APEC that add value to the APEC process in enhancing the sense of community building in the fields of trade, development, education, and culture.
During the symposium, we also had field trips to various places in Yogyakarta to witness the peaceful and harmonious existence of different cultures and beliefs in a single community. I sincerely hope that the field trip gave you more than just a historical pleasure, but also examples of cultural and religious understanding living in our communities. I believe it is a solid basis for us to build a prosperous community in the Asia Pacific region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please allow me now to lay emphasis on some points of the recommendations that reflects our strong desire to work together for a cultural and faith understanding in our region.
First of all, our two day exchange of views and discussions have confirmed our belief that understanding among cultures and faiths is prerequisite to the attainment of peace and stability. And we could also concur to the idea that peace and stability are crucial elements to the attainment of a dynamic and prosperous region. This has been expressed by the Executive Director of APEC Secretariat in such an excellent way, and I quote: "Better mutual understanding will provide a more stable foundation for trade and business relationships". Hence, our symposium has indeed strong linkages to what APEC is trying to achieve, a prosperous Asia Pacific region.
Our discussion in this two day symposium has also brought us to an accord that dialogues among cultures and faiths should be part of APEC's work in the future. Throughout these two days, we have also seen the importance of having a continuous inter cultural and faith process in our region. I believe that such dialogue among cultures and faiths is a prerequisite to our community building process.
The symposium therefore recommends that further efforts in promoting inter cultural and faith dialogues in APEC should be encouraged so as to achieve an atmosphere of peace and understanding amongst our communities.
It is therefore fitting for us to say that this symposium is part of our common efforts in bringing our cooperation closer towards socio-economic and cultural development of the Asia Pacific Region.
This should then become part of our underlying commitment. And seeing the importance of this process, I have arrived to a conclusion that inter cultural and faith initiative warrants the attention of our Ministers and Leaders.
APEC's commitment to dialogue between cultures, faith and civilizations should therefore be transpired in our ministers and leaders statements. It is therefore my intention to incorporate these recommendations in my report to the SOM.
Ladies and gentlemen,
All in all, through the symposium, we have strengthened the groundwork for a better understanding between cultures and faiths based on the principles of equality and shared conviction.
I therefore have only the finest anticipations about our efforts, as it is part of the greater goal of fulfilling the vision of our leaders in Blake Island in 1993. What we are embarking on shall become part of the building block to establish an Asia Pacific Community which benefits the people and of APEC's trade, development and human security objectives.
With these comments, I conclude my remarks.