I am honoured to participate in the ceremony of the twentieth anniversary of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), one of the most successful institutions of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. The present ceremony resulted from an exemplary cooperation deployed by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the COMCEC Secretariat. It gives further evidence of the multifarious orientations of the development of solidarity between Muslim countries.

The Government of the Republic of Turkey has always accorded importance to strengthening its cooperation with the other OIC Member States in all fields of action. It has closely followed IRCICA’s activities since its establishment and extended all the necessary assistance and facilities to the Centre.

While the time and space dimensions of the globe shrink, peoples’ similarities and differences appear more distinctly. In consequence, the cultural, religious and civilisational factors of polarity increase their effects on international relations. In this environment, mutual tolerance and understanding between nations and civilisations play a crucial role in ensuring their togetherness. And the way to establish tolerance and understanding is to introduce nations to each other on basis of their cultural characteristics.

Therefore, the Centre’s studies using scholarly methods and modern techniques, its publications in various languages, and its efforts to preserve the Member States’ common heritage, are all aimed at meeting this important need of our time. Its researches on the history and the arts of Muslim nations within and outside the Member States help to strengthen the links between these nations. Its international cooperation programs, artistic and architectural restoration projects contribute in promoting academic circles’ interest in subjects relating to Islamic culture and civilisation.

The Centre’s activities have highlighted the cultural wealth of the Muslim world and the importance of this asset within the process of the dialogue of civilisations. They have also contributed towards correcting the misconceptions of the world opinion and the academic community caused by lack of information about the history and the culture of Muslim nations.

It is seen that as a result of global developments, the objectives set forth at the Centre’s establishment have acquired further importance in our time. Fulfillment of the Centre’s objectives will help, at the same time, in strengthening the position of its parent organisation, the OIC, among the international organisations. I believe that this process will continue in the twenty-first century and that the Centre will have the resilience to respond to changing circumstances. Turkey is proud to host this Centre.

By taking these facts into consideration while drawing up the Centre’s future plans and programs, it will be possible to make use of its accumulated knowledge and experience in an increasingly efficient way.

The presence, in this ceremony, of distinguished figures having extended support and contributed remarkably to research in Islamic civilisation, not only from the Muslim countries but from around the world, is another manifestation of the significance these subjects have acquired on a universal scale. I would like to take this opportunity to greet those distinguished personalities who will receive the award for patronage in the preservation of cultural heritage and promotion of research to be presented for the first time on IRCICA’s twentieth anniversary and the third group of its award for excellence in research, and thank them for their support and contributions in these fields. The establishment of these awards of global scope, which emphasise contributions in these fields and encourage similar efforts, is one of the pioneering accomplishments of the Centre and indicate the advanced stage reached by its activities.

I would like to express my thanks to all the Member States that have contributed morally and materially to the Centre’s achieving its present state; I thank the General Secretariat of the OIC and Secretary General H.E. Dr. Azeddine Laraki, and all the institutions, organisations and persons supportive of the Centre. I also thank the Member States’ honourable ministers and representatives, the members of international organisations and the esteemed guests present here for the close interest they have shown on this occasion. I congratulate the Director General the distinguished scholar Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and his colleagues on their important anniversary which brought together this select audience and wish them continuous success.