Diplomatic ties bond nations and people.
When you consider the amount of news time dedicated to the death of Amy Winehouse, the appalling attacks in Norway, the new financial crisis unfolding in America and now chaotic riots in London, you could be forgiven for overlooking the efforts made to come some way to build bridges between the Christian and Islamic worlds. Nearly two years since the first meeting ever between the Head of the Catholic church and a head of Government from Southeast Asia, the Pope and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed to establish Diplomatic relations.
These may only be talks at the moment, but when one considers the amount of bad blood which has passed between the two over the centuries, it really does represent a milestone. The Vatican City has regularly been the epicentre of international politics. Papal legates at the Vatican represented the courts of Kings and Emperors at a time before Ambassadors and Embassies were a formal entity. It was the medieval and early modern version of the United Nations before multi-lateral diplomacy had ever been considered. Therefore, there is a weight and gravitas that is associated to this agreement which, I am sure, will not have been lost on the Malaysian Prime Minister.
Diplomatic relations are such an important step in big picture terms. Symbolically it is a huge gesture of solidarity and one which should not be ignored. Governments can say a lot about a country by the way in which it treats the diplomatic staff whom have been accredited to that state. the most recent example would be the collective expulsion of the entire Libyan embassy in London last month. Malaysia is an emerging economic player and this is recognition by the Pontiff will surely only strengthen relations with Europe. This has got to be of benefit to to both sides, with the Euro set to implode, new markets for products that were normally traded within the Eurozone have to be found, and where better than the far-east?
What does this mean for Britain? Well I can’t see much of an immediate effect, particularly since there is already a Malaysian High Commission based at Belgrave Square Gardens in Westminster. We must think of it more as ripples on a pond. Closer ties between religions can only been a good thing. It will be the closest thing to understanding between them I feel, and it is through understanding that we have any hope of bringing an end to the atrocities that are probilgated by the more extreme fractions of the islamic world.