The 18th Mediterranean Conference, organised by IRCICA and Dowling College (New York), Istanbul, 8-11 July 1996

The Mediterranean Conferences are organized by Dowling College of Long Island, New York, USA for the purpose of bringing together scholars and researchers from universities all over the world for a dialogue of civilizations in the Mediterranean. The participants present papers and hold discussions on a wide range of cultural subjects pertaining to the Mediterranean in an historical perspective. Dowling College, an institution renown for its international relations and research in cultural areas, held the previous seventeen conferences each year in a different Mediterranean country. The Eighteenth Mediterranean Conference was organized in two parts, the first part in Rome, and the second part in Istanbul, jointly with IRCICA, on the Centre's premises at Yıldız Palace, between the dates 8-11 July 1996.

There were thirty-four participants from universities in different countries, among them, New York State, Nevada, North Carolina and Harvard Universities, Dowling College and Bryn Mawr College (USA), Helsinki University (Finland), University of Budapest (Hungary), Sorbonne University (France), Marmara University (Turkey); scholars from Spain and Germany also participated in the discussions. Ten sessions were held, and the session topics were Islam and Western Europe, Islam and the Indian Continent, Neo-Platonic Society, recent Mediterranean Studies, Moors in the Western Literature, Recent Greek Studies, Women and Islam, Literature and the Mediterranean Coast.

Many distinguished guests were invited to the opening on 8 July, among them, the Governor of Istanbul, the Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul, the representative of the Minister of Culture of Turkey, the President of Istanbul University, the Consuls General of various countries in Istanbul, university members and outstanding newspapermen of the Turkish press.

Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu welcomed the guests and in his speech gave a general outline of the history of the Mediterranean as a cradle of civilizations and occasionally, an arena of conflicts. Pointing out that the Mediterranean has given birth to the major religions and cultures and that their relationship formed a major part of civilisational history, the Director General said that Mediterranean civilisations can cooperate to promote affinities among themselves drawing from their common heritage, and that in this framework, the academicians have an important role to play, that of better introducing peoples of different cultures to each other. Next, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mayor of Istanbul, took the floor, and expressed his hope that the Mediterranean would become a sea of peace with the combined efforts of the surrounding countries, where tolerance and respect would be shown to the religion and lifestyle of every society. Mr. Rahmi Çubukçu, representative of the Minister of Culture, read the message of Mr. İsmail Kahraman, Minister of Culture of Turkey, who wished the participants success in their conference. Prof. Dr. Bülent Berkarda, President of Istanbul University also made a speech emphasizing the historical importance of the Mediterranean as the birthplace of major intellectual, cultural and artistic currents which influenced the cultural development of mankind; he expressed appreciation of the Mediterranean Conferences which contribute to unity in the region through studies in social sciences.

The Metropolitan Mayor of Istanbul was presented with a medal by the President of Dowling College Dr. Victor P. Meskill for welcoming the 18th Mediterranean Conference to the city of Istanbul, and Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu was awarded an honorary doctorate in science by the President for his contributions to research in history of science and culture.

At the closing ceremony, Dr. Norman Holub from Dowling College, the organiser of the Mediterranean Conferences, was awarded by IRCICA with a plaque of appreciation for his efforts and contributions to the organisation of the very successful 18th Mediterranean Conference.