08 May 2009
Your Highness, Prince Aga Khan;
Mr. Vice President, and President of the Class of Humanities of the Academy of
Sciences of Lisbon, Prof. Adriano Moreira;
Your Excellencies, the Ministers of Defense and Culture;
Professors and persons of Culture and Science;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
On the day of the first visit of Prince Aga Khan to an Academy that was wise enough to elect him as one of its members, it is my honor and pleasure to greet His Highness on behalf of the Institution.
Many distinguished visitors came to this Academy since its foundation, 230 years ago. But it would be very wrong to consider you as just one more among them. Not only you have been, since 1957, Prince Aga Khan IV, the 49th Imam of the Ismailis, and thus the religious leader of a community, the Ismaili Community, that the Portuguese Nation learned to regard with such a high esteem, but - in the exercise of your exalted office -, you have displayed a outstanding talent as a statesman, a diplomat and an organizer, besides being a man of faith and culture.
The political transformations that occurred in Asia and Africa during the last few decades could have been much more difficult for several nations, and for the Ismaili Community settled within them, had not been for your activity both as a leader and a statesman.
The establishment by His Highness of the Aga Khan Development Network - AKDN, a group of international development agencies with mandates ranging, from health and education, to architecture, culture, microfinance, civil society, rural development, and disaster mitigation, as well as the promotion of private-sector enterprises and the revitalization of historical cities, was vital for such communities.
I am sorry that a tight schedule does not allow me to tell more about the Man and his achievements.
I end my short speech wishing Your Highness happiness and success in your projects.
During your public life, you have displayed an almost unique capacity for linking East and West. We regard therefore your connection with our Institution as much more than an honor bestowed upon an international personality we so much admire. I ensure you, Your Highness, that the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon wishes to play a significant role in your relations with a nation, like Portugal, that has always felt a specific call for promoting the dialogue between cultures and civilizations.
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