Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to meet you here in this beautiful city of Istanbul, which is illustrious for its civilisation and which houses today a meeting aimed at strengthening economic and commercial cooperation between Muslim countries and another meeting that has the objective of making known the Islamic arts and civilisation. These two meetings are held within the framework of the action undertaken by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in the service of the Muslim world to increase the well-being of its people, to highlight its commendable contributions to human civilisation, to introduce and upgrade them by drawing from the supreme moral and religious values. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Republic of Turkey, its President, its Government and its people for having convened the meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) and for hosting the headquarters and supporting the activities of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA).

The commemoration of this twentieth anniversary of the Centre has been made possible, initially, by the Government of Turkey, then chaired by Prime Minister Mr. Süleyman Demirel, which made a call for setting up this Centre and deployed the necessary means to lay its foundations. Also praiseworthy are the unfailing efforts of the Centre’s competent staff directed by my friend Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu. The Centre, a subsidiary of the OIC; that is, an executive organ of the General Secretariat entrusted with implementing the numerous decisions taken by the OIC to preserve and promote the Islamic heritage, has carried out many studies, organised a number of international and regional symposia, seminars and festivals, which altogether contributed in strengthening Muslims’ attachment to and pride of their cultural riches and heritage and their efforts to make them known to those outside the Muslim world. This can be considered as an important step towards promoting the dialogue between civilisations which is upheld by the OIC and conceived so as to re-read the historical stages of the Muslim community carefully and objectively and re-consider the consequences of its determining turning points and developments on the life of mankind. Thanks to the position of Turkey which has a long civilisational and historical past encompassing neighbouring regions, the Centre is capable of playing an important role in consolidating the spirit of belonging to Islamic culture among the peoples of the Balkans and the countries which joined the OIC recently, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Centre’s supervising the reconstruction of Neziraga Mosque in Mostar, Bonisa and Herzegovina, gives evidence of this capacity. In fact, with its efficient management, its experienced staff and the guidance of its Governing Board, the Centre is capable of deploying more efforts and producing more work to make known the contributions that various Muslim countries have made towards enriching human civilisation, developing Islamic thought and giving birth to the personalities who stood out by their patronage of knowledge, culture and arts. May God guide us on the right path.