Astana, the City of Peace
The city of Astana is poised to become known as the City of Peace. The purpose of the Congresses of World and Traditional Religious Leaders is precisely that. Its a measure intiated by the President of Kazakhstan and seems to receive the highest governemental priority.
The 4th session of the Secretariat for the Congress of World and Traditional Religious Leaders spent most of its time crafting a Declaration to be adopted at the 2nd Congress scheduled for September 11-15, 2006. The document is long on words and short on action. Parts of it required intense srutiny, by different parties. At the end it was not nearly an interfaith dialogue as an interfaith negotiation. Religious leaders representing, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist traditions were represented. While the document may provide an adequate platform, I suggested to them that if it lacks concrete actions, it will lack the gravity needed for sustained energy.
This is a picture of the Baiterek or the Independence Monument. The construction equipment in the background is typical of what you see around Astana. The city is booming with new construction with elegant architecture.