Speech delivered at the inauguration of Institute for Peace Studies

In  Alexandria, 14 February 2006


Your Excellency, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak

Mister Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina


Distinguished colleagues,


When I have received the invitation to participate at the inauguration of the Peace Institute within the Library in Alexandria, I recalled the story of the young Spanish shepherd Santiago, who was traveling from Europe towards the Egyptian pyramids carrying a book in his wallet. He learnt Arabic and met an old fortuneteller lady, a king, a crystals merchant, a general, a camel breeder, an Englishman and virgin Fatima. He crosses the desert, the war between clans and the oasis peace. At the end of the road, he learns that more important than any treasure is to know the “Soul of the World”. The story of Santiago was told by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho in his book “The Alchemist”, read by millions of people, proving once again that civilizations dialogue is not only possible, but also fascinating.

            We are here together to share our personal experiences, looking for a mutual sense.

            I was born in the same year the Second World War has become, near a 15th century citadel, situated on the former soviet empire border. I had known the foreign occupation, the refuge, the life under a right military dictatorship and the oppression under a communist dictatorship during the last decade. I have participated at the anticommunist revolution and I faced inter-ethnical conflicts, the threat of a civil war and the one of a war at the borders.

            Mineralogy is my profession and mineralogists are the alchemists’ successors, alchemists who desired to change metals into gold.

            Since thousand millions of years, the Earth is the gigantic scene of a permanent confrontation between the concentration tendencies and the mineral material dissemination. Likewise is the history of living world, of human and nations. It is essential that ideas confrontation and peaceful dialogue should replace for good any kind of violence. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is maybe the most appropriate place to remind us to cast away the arrogances crust which breaks communication and to avoid the sentences and prejudices on certain people and conceptions we do not know enough. We should carefully and respectfully approach the mysterious and profound nature of different human civilizations, of this multicultural world, where we were predestined to ephemerally pass through and the spiritual eternity dream.  We have the duty to identify and capitalize the old superposed layers, along centuries, to rediscover the tradition of pacific changes and of subtle negotiations between nations belonging to different civilizations and at the same time complementary.

            The steak of present should not be a way of organizing relationship between friends and enemies, but, on the contrary, it should be considered as the best way of being together, around a common project of PEACE establishing and consolidation. The freedom of conscience, tolerance and pluralism are the values which can help us find the way out from the night of hatred and revenge in order to build new bridges between very old cultures and civilizations.

            If we desire a world of peace, we should build it, fight for it, knee only for praying and we should not be overwhelmed by the fear of some evil considered inevitable.

            If the globalization could not be avoided, then it can be molded.

             The multiculturalism requires to be promoted and lived in respect for the diversity, for the identity tradition pluralism, for the human rights and everyone freedom of conscience.

            We shall survive in this still divided world not through what we possess, but through what we are.