Prague to host weekend of conferences on global understanding


This weekend, Prague hosts a number of international conferences bringing together important personalities and world thinkers to discuss and find ways of approaching important world issues. One such conference begins on Friday. Organised by Senate Deputy-Chairman Jan Ruml and PASS - the Programme of Atlantic Security Studies, it focuses on NATO's future role in the Middle East. Czech Senator Michael Zantovsky explains why:

"Well, the greater Middle East is the region where some of the recent threats to European and American security have stemmed from, which in our opinion, NATO has to be involved in, in more ways than one. One way, of course, is to defend against military threats of both the non-traditional and traditional variety. Another way is to help in the peace-keeping efforts in the region and the third way in which we believe NATO can help is with the efforts at democratisation in the countries in question. NATO has played an important role in this respect in countries like Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and more recently in countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. So, we believe it could play that kind of a role in the Middle East as well."

The conference expects to attract participants including two former US secretaries of state - Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, as well as the prominent Polish essayist, historian and former communist dissident Adam Michnik.

From October 19-21, the International Conference of Tibet Support Groups will be held for the first time outside of Germany. Prague has been chosen by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung - the foundation traditionally responsible for organising the conferences - to host the fourth annual event. Representatives of over 250 humanitarian groups are expected to participate and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will be its guest of honour.

According to Marta Peroutkova from the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, "The conference will discuss further steps and strategies that need to be taken to effectively support the world-wide movement for Tibetan independence. That is why most of it will take place behind closed doors and only the start and end will be open to the public and the media."

But besides prominent politicians, and representatives of humanitarian organisations, Prague has also attracted representatives of several world religions, who will meet on Sunday to discuss the contribution of inter-religious dialogue to solving global conflicts as part of the Forum 2000: Bridging Global Gaps Conference that is currently underway in Prague for the seventh time since 1997. Tune in to Radio Prague on Monday for more from the conferences.