The history of European migration and settlement was in the limelight at the international conference, “The Great Migrations: The Colonisation of Europe,” held at the initiative of Kazakh scholars in Spain’s University of Granada on Dec. 11.
The event, organised by Kazakhstan’s Embassy in Madrid in cooperation with the University of Granada and under the auspices of UNESCO, brought together leading experts and scientists in the fields of migration, palaeontology and archaeology. Among the scholars were representatives of Cambridge University, the University of Bologna, the Sorbonne, the Max Planck Institute and the Russian Academy of Science. Kazakh Ambassador to Spain Bakyt Dyussenbayev, President of the Culture Foundation Olzhas Suleimenov, Director of the Almaty-based Institute of Oriental Studies Absattar Derbisali and Director of UNESCO’s office in Russia Dendev Badarch were also in attendance.
“The organisation of this conference is our contribution to rapprochement among cultures,” Dyussenbayev was quoted as saying by Spanish news agency EFE during a visit to the Alhambra with the other conference participants. Suleimenov, a renowned Kazakh poet, scientist and diplomat, said the reports made at the conference as well as the animated discussions among participants greatly contributed to forging a common understanding of the way people migrated and settled down in ancient times and provided insight into the origins of various ethnic groups.
“This conference promoted mutual understanding and knowledge of cultural and ethnic diversity, demonstrating that it might become one of the tools for intercultural dialogue. It confirmed that the study of migrations in the early history of mankind provides a framework for commonly shared values and promotes dialogue for sustainable development in its cultural, social and ethnic aspects. The study of such issues leads to raising global consciousness through the rapprochement of cultures,” Suleimenov said.
Participants called the conference a response by the intellectual community to UNESCO’s call for a “new policy and the involvement of new parties” in the process of rapprochement between peoples.
The government of Kazakhstan initiated the event as part of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. The decade, 2013-2022, is a UNESCO initiative that grew out of the 2010 Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures proclaimed by the United Nations at the urging of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
One of the major purposes of the conference was to examine the processes of settlement in Europe, to study the geographical origins of tribes and peoples who came to the continent during its initial development and to come to a better understanding of major migration trends. Consideration of these processes will contribute to the creation of a common pattern of human settlement across the globe. The conference also provided an opportunity to learn more about the universal history of mankind, bringing together different schools of thought, research groups and institutions.
Following the event, the participants adopted a declaration expressing their hope that the scientific community as well as international organisations across the world will pay greater attention to the project, which provides a comprehensive study of human settlement on the planet as an important means of deepening interethnic dialogue and rapprochement of cultures in the interests of peace and sustainable development for all nations.
The conclusions reached in Granada were incorporated with the findings of previous meetings, including the 2011 Conference on the Colonisation of the Americas prior to Columbus held at New York’s Colombia University and the 2013 discussion of population movements in Southeast Asia and the Far East hosted by Hangan University in Seoul.
Founded in 1531 by Emperor Charles V, the University of Granada has almost 500 years of history and is one of the most famous universities in Spain.