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16th Annual Convention of the Union of Arab Medical Doctors in Europe An Important and Far Reaching Contribution to the Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Dialogue

Many Europeans nowadays are not conscious of the fact anymore that one of the foundations upon which Europe and its cultural and scientific development through the ages were based on was laid by Arab culture and science. As history tells us it was the eminent role of Spain during the times of the Moorish rule to be a mediator between the orient and the occident. Without the far reaching ideas of Arab philosophers like Aver-roes (lbn Rushd) and Avicenna (Ibn Sina) the history of Western science up to the development of modern sciences would not have been possible.
It was specifically Arab medical knowledge, Prof. Dr. Dr. Joseph Schmucker- Von Kochskill and expertise which set standards for centuries also for Western medicine. A lot of other influences could be mentioned which contributed to the development of European Culture in various fields (the arts and literature for instance).

As far as science is concerned the Union of Arab Medical Doctors (ARABMED) in Europe nowadays plays an important role in continuing this great heritage which Europe ows so much to. ARABMED is of great importance insofar as through its solid and convincing activities the Arab world is now present in Europe as a partner for scientific dialogue and the free exchange of ideas - to the benefit of all participating in this dialogue.

This year's 16th Annual Convention in Düsseldorf has again proved the high quality and standards of ARABMED activities. Well organized by its president Dr. Naggar, the convention was a forum not only for scientific discussions among medical specialists but also for an interdisciplinary dialogue which becomes allthemore important as medicine goes ahead with its groundbreaking research in various fields of human interest. The ongoing medical progress and various discoveries made through the last couple of years especially in genetic research and other areas of modern high tech medicine pose ethical questions as well as questions for social policy and health systems which cannot be dealt with in an abstract manner only but have to be answered in very concrete forms - to the benefit of mankind.

The 16th ARABMED Annual Convention has been very successful in opening a free and lively debate on these problems. Furtheron there were topics discussed that had to do with the institutional prerequisites and structures of scientific progress. "Science policy and basic research programs" had been a topic that in cooperation with Dr. Sradj (philosopher and medical scientist, Regensburg) was thoroughly worked on. It was shown that the pluralism of scientific theories as well as the competition between different scientific positions is necessary to promote scientific and technological development. Therefore governmental institutions should pave the way for such "open structures". These structures, of course, can only exist if freedom of scientific work and respect of human rights is guaranteed.

It was made clear what kind of responsibility science itself has to take and what kind of responsibility we as politicians as well as members of the scientific community have to take for science, i.e. for creating adequate conditions for successful scientific developments. This subject deserves further discussions internationally since science and technology are a driving force behind the globalization process. This discussion is very important for establishing sufficient and sustainable institutional structures that form a framework within which science can be organized most effectively. This includes that sufficient reference is made to the specific cultural background of a nation or country affected. Only on such a basis a broad based acceptance of new scientific developments can be reached.

As a member of the European Commission's (Brussels) Peer Review Board of Experts in Bioethics and Medical Ethics as well as a member of the Ethics Committee of the Medical Authorities in the state of Bavaria (LandesÄrztekammer) I congratulate ARABMED and its president Dr. Naggar to the excellent work they have done so far.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Joseph Schmucker-von Koch

(Director of the European Academy for Cultural and Social Affairs, University of Regensburg)