International conference in honor of the Centenary of the legendary Nelson Mandela

Press release

08.06.2018, Belgrade, Serbia

On June 8, 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia, an International conference was held in honor of the Centenary of the legendary Nelson Mandela, organized by the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development (IFSPD), a non-governmental organization whose founders and numerous members are worthy and prominent representatives of the intelligentsia, scientists, diplomats and public figures from 36 countries of the world. An organization that adheres to the principle of equality and mutual respect, stands up for peace, dialogue, sustainable development, mutual understanding, people’s diplomacy, promotion of multicultural values ​​and respect for the norms and principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders, is interested in holding such important events that unite people for one goal.

Since 2007, Nelson Mandela is an honorary citizen of Belgrade, and the purpose of the conference was based on the continuation of the heritage of Nelson Mandela. The conference was held in the solemn hall of the University of Belgrade, where outstanding public figures, representatives of the intelligentsia, diplomacy, culture and science, representatives of the state, government and parliament attended. The opening took place with the sound of national anthems of Serbia and South Africa, and after that the conference moderator, Prof. Dr. and Dr. Honoris Causa Sabahudin Hadzhialich, honored professor of European and regional universities greeted the audience and gave the floor to prof. Dr. Zhivan Lazovich, Vice-Rector of the University of Belgrade.

He noted in his speech that he was proud of the fact that such a prestigious event was held at University of Belgrade, noted the importance of the issues on the agenda of the event and the role of Nelson Mandela in the national liberation movement of South African countries, his fight against racial discrimination and his great work for his country.

The welcoming speech was also addressed by the Secretary-General to the President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Nikola Selakovich, who in his speech noted that it was a great honor for him to address those present on behalf of the office of the President of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Alexander Vučić, and also noted that such a significant conference in honor of the centenary of the day the birth of Nelson Mandela is held precisely in the Serbian capital not by chance, since in 2007 Nelson Mandela was proclaimed an honorary citizen of Belgrade. He thanked the leadership of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development for organizing such an important event.

Then the Minister of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Mr. Vladan Vukosavljevich, delivered a welcoming speech. In his speech he welcomed all participants of the conference and noted that it is a pleasure to hold such an important historical event in Serbia, in which scientists, intellectuals, diplomats, public and political figures from different countries take part. He thanked the organizers of the event and wished success in holding the conference. The minister expressed his confidence that it will be held effectively and that important decisions will be taken within the framework of the event.

The conference was also attended by the current president of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development prof. Dr. Dimitar Kostov, Founder and Chairman of the African Raising Foundation, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Mr. Ndaba Mandela, Vice President of the Foundation, Director of the Branch in the Russian Federation Mr. Mikhail Zernov, Executive Director of the Nelson Mandela Museum in South Africa Mr. Bonke Tyhulu, Vice President of the Foundation, His Royal Heritage Zolani Mkiva, Director of the Museum “Robben Island” Mr. Mava Dada and Head of the Economics and Finance Department of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences of the Istanbul Aydin University professor. Dr. Sedat Aybar.

Current president of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development prof. Dr. Dimitar Kostov in his speech considered appropriate if the conference supports the resolution A/RES/72/243 of the 72-nd session of the UN General Assembly on the convening of a conference at the highest level on the eve of the 73-rd session of the GA on the topic “In the performance of Nelson Mandela’s legacy, to strengthen and develop the role of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security”. Then he noted that in the country’s first multiracial parliamentary elections in history, an overwhelming majority chose the ANC to lead the country, and on May 10, 1994 Mandela was sworn in as the first black president of South Africa, with de Klerk serving as his first deputy. As a president, Mandela established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights and political violations committed by both supporters and opponents of apartheid between 1960 and 1994. It was hailed as an innovative model for building peace and justice and for holding accountable those guilty of human rights violations. At the same time, it laid the foundation for building reconciliation among all South Africans. He also introduced numerous social and economic programs designed to improve the living standards of South Africa’s black population.

The founder and chairman of the Africa Raising Foundation, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, first of all expressed deep gratitude to the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development for organizing and holding a conference in honor of Nelson Mandela’s centenary. In his speech, Ndaba Mandela said that Nelson Mandela led the struggle to abolish the apartheid regime in South Africa and was one of the most respected statesmen in the world. In 1962, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for political activities, which were considered as terrorism. Mandela was released after 27 years. Five months later, for the first time in the history of South Africa, general democratic elections took place, at which Nelson Mandela was elected president as the first black head of state in the history of the country. The main problem for Mandela as head of state was the fight against poverty. In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His charm, his sense of humor, his ability to forgive those who cruelly treated him, and the whole amazing story of his life – all this to some extent explains the truly universal love and respect that Mandela enjoyed. ”I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die., “My grandfather said that “everything seems impossible until someone does it”“, he noted. He also informed the participants of the event about the activities of the Foundation, which he directs.

Vice President of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development, Director of the branch in the Russian Federation, Mr. Mikhail Zernov in his speech noted that the life of Nelson Mandela is an example of an uncompromising position about the world evil, which periodically sprouts on different ends of the planet, which can be as explicit as apartheid, but can take other forms. With cruise missiles and violation of the sovereignty of states, with test tubes with non-existent chemical weapons, fraudulent facts, lies, deception. Followed by a severe punishment, strict punishment to those peoples and countries that choose a selfish path of development. And the inflexibility of this great man, who was offered several times to abandon his convictions and struggle in exchange for freedom, causes deep respect and admiration. Nelson Mandela often said that he was “an ordinary man who became a leader due to special circumstances”. “In my country, you first go to jail, then become president,” Mandela repeated. But, standing at the helm of the country, he saved South Africa, which was standing on the threshold of civil war, from the abyss. Mandela sat at one table both his comrades-in-arms, and yesterday’s enemies. The last white president, Frederick de Klerk, became vice-president during his presidency, and the leader of the militant people Zulu Buthelezi became minister of the interior affairs. Nelson Mandela was not a politician in the usual sense of the word. For Mandela, participation in the political struggle was a form of existence. He lived together with the people. Despite his high background, he was discriminated against in exactly the same way as a black worker or an illiterate peasant working for a white farmer. He was an inseparable part of the people. That’s what made him so successful and so popular.

The executive director of the Nelson Mandela Museum in South Africa, Mr. Bonke Tyhulu, gave detailed information on Nelson Mandela’s activities, on his participation in the national liberation movement, on the struggle for it, on people’s support, on the sharp struggle against discrimination, on his state and people, and his memory among the people. He said in his speech that the Nelson Mandela Museum proudly participated in the event in honor of Nelson Mandela’s centenary. Organizations such as the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development have the ethical obligation to lead societies to dialogue. It is clear that Nelson Mandela was a product of a community. Contributions made at different levels by different people and organizations gave us a fine human being.

Indeed, the next 100 years should be about production of other Nelson Mandelas of this world to help build a better world. The society has a duty to produce leaders that are capable of producing other Mandelas. These Mandelas would help sustain peace and economic prosperity.

On behalf of the famous journalist who was the last journalist to have interviewed Nelson Mandela himself, Mrs. Vesna Jugovich de Vincha, who unfortunately could not attend for valid reasons, and whose English edition of the book “Mandela’s Code” was specially published in honor of the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela, in a joint collaboration between the “Institute of Textbooks” and the International Fund for Sustainable Peace and Development, Mrs. Maya Manoylovich held a speech. She noted that “Mandela’s unusual, difficult but exciting, above all enlightning life, as well as his principles of thinking and acting – these are the themes of this book. The book is thus, above all, a special kind of biography.

It was inspired by the last interview of the great leader I made in December 2009 on Catholic Christmas day in Mandela’s house in the south of the South African Republic in the village of Kunu, near Port Elizabeth. I was then honored to have breakfast and, as a journalist of the life & style magazine HELLO!,  to talk to this exceptional man.

Shortened version of the interview was published in English and Serbian edition of HELLO! magazine. The long version of the conversation is incorporated into this book.

It was written with the idea of ​​discovering the secret of the sources of enormous strenght and power of this Spartacus of the new age, to discover and define – the Mandela’s code. It’s a really difficult task.

How to decode Mandela’s multi-layer, complex personality and philosophy, his political activism, his sight and inner smile, the knowledge that his messages to mankind and politicians after his death still have weight and timeless value today?”

Vice President of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development, His Royal Heritage, Mr. Zolani Mkiva, in his speech thanked the current president of the Foundation prof. Dr. Dimiter Kostov for taking the important initiative of organizing the event and the Secretary General, Vice President of the Foundation prof. Dr. Eldar Hasanov for contributing to the organization and the successful realization of the event in honor of the icon of the freedom and father of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and he noted that it take a leader with a foresight and a world view to do occasions of this nature. This ceremony has brought us together as people from the different hemispheres of the universe. What unites us under this roof is our common value of appreciating justice, peace, love and freedom. These are the main things that Dr Nelson Mandela lived and struggled for.

In his speech, he noted that he had known about Nelson Mandela since childhood. His name was associated with the struggle for the emancipation of the people of Africa at large. He was the symbol and embodiment of freedom. His face was banned in the public discourse and we grew up without having seen his image. Many of our people who never met him before he was incarcerated could only imagine his image as a person. To this effect, many artistic impressions were created for this freedom fighter.

Vice President of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development, famous writer Mr. Chingiz Abdullayev, who was not able to attend for valid reasons, noted in his speech that in the difficult history of mankind, many heroes and brave people challenged the authorities, battling and dying in the name of freedom, in the name of the equality of other people. But there is almost no one ready to rise above personal grievances, forget the existing contradictions and extend a hand to their opponents, calling on all to peace and reconciliation, after so many years of personal suffering and lack of freedom. The greatness of Nelson Mandela’s soul strikes everyone who gets acquainted with the story of his life. Three hundred years ago the French philosopher Montesquieu brilliantly said – “To do great things, you do not have to be the greatest genius, you do not need to be above people. You need to be with them!” This is what Nelson Mandela was, he managed to rise above his personal grievances, passions, his difficult fate! He showed us the ideal of the Personality, to which every citizen living today can and should strive! He who denies freedom for others does not deserve it for himself. Speaking in court at which he was sentenced to life imprisonment, Nelson Mandela finished his speech with the words “I’m ready to die”, and later this speech will become a symbol of the people’s struggle for their liberation! People say that he said that last phrase looking directly at the judge. And he proved with his life that it was not just rhetoric. Refusing to leave prison in exchange for his early release, he showed an example not only of an uncompromising fighter, but also of a Person whose moral authority will prove to be a moral example for millions of people throughout the world!

But in one thing he was wrong! Such people do not die! He was ready for death, but death itself retreated before his Greatness! He was ready to die, but his name became a symbol of the struggle of all oppressed for their liberation! And that’s why he is among us today. Today he is everywhere where freedom is violated: where there is no democracy, where citizens are deprived of their natural rights. And that is why he is with us. From now on and forever. And we can justly be proud that the human race created by the Creator or by nature was able to breed such Titans, of whom we can be proud forever.

Director of the “Robben Island” Museum in South Africa, Mr. Mava Dada, in his speech expressed deep gratitude for the organization and holding of the conference at a high level.

He noted that the President of South Africa announced this year, 2018 – the year of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu. Albertina Sisulu was a staunch human rights activist and wife of the late Walter Sisulu. Both would have celebrated their 100th birthday this year.


The two are struggle stalwarts whose legacies have shaped the history and course of South Africa as one of the last countries to attain democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. With respect to Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 of his 27 year sentence as a prisoner at Robben Island Maximum Prison, we recognise his exemplary life, values and visionary leadership that have left a great legacy we wish to proudly share with South Africa, Africa and the World at large. His vision for humanity is alive with us in the present. Through Tata’s inspiring leadership style, South Africans envisioned a better country for all and moved together toward a shared view of the future. Many of which were born during his incarceration at Robben Island.

Head of the Department of Economics and Finance of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences of Istanbul Aydin University prof. Dr. Sedat Aybar said in his speech that millions of people remember Nelson Mandela as a person who defeated apartheid peacefully. „He became an outstanding politician, who made a great contribution to world democracy and struggle for human rights. During his presidency Mandela managed to carry out a number of important socio-economic reforms, which greatly facilitated the life of the population. Recently, in the begining of May this year, I have delivered a talk on the great leader Nelson Mandela at a similar event at my university, Istanbul Aydin University. That event was attended by his Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa Mr. Kgalema Petrus Mothlanthe and his Excellency, my Honorable Dear Friend Pule Malefane the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa in Turkey. That particular event to our pleasant surprise had attracted a lot of attention from the media and from our students. We had full house, so to speak. Overall, wide spread interest on these events signifies the relevance and importance of Great Leader Nelson Mandela’s ideas and what these ideas represent, particularly in ever challenging world of the rising racism and single minded dogmatism, an evil against which he has patiently, and relentlessly fought.„

At the conference, Mrs. Ray Monde Phillips and Mr. Jan Adamec, members of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development, presented their project “Caress the World”, which through the spirit of art preserves the values ​​for which Nelson Mandela stood up.

At the end of the conference, the grandson of Nelson Mandela, Mr. Ndaba Mandela, and Mr. Zharko Tarich presented the main initiator and organizer of the conference to the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Serbia and to the Secretary-General of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development, H.E. prof. Dr. Eldar Hasanov, the Award “Razvoj” on behalf of the Serbian-African Investment Forum, and thanked him again for his enormous contribution.

At the end of the event, the Board of Directors and members of the leadership of the International Foundation for Sustainable Peace and Development decided to hold events, scientific and practical conferences aimed at the stability of mankind, peace, dialogue, sustainable development, the development of democratic values and the strengthening of dialogue among peoples on a regular basis.

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