João Lourenço was speaking at the opening of the 3rd edition of the Pan-African Forum for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence – Luanda Biennial, which runs until Friday in the Angolan capital, with the event featured in the opening ceremony with the Presidents from Cape Verde, José Maria das Neves, from São Tomé and Príncipe, Carlos Vila Nova, from Ethiopia, Sale-Work Zewed, deputy director of UNESCO, Xing Qu, the president of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Mahmat.
The biannual forum is under the motto "Education, Culture of Peace and African Citizenship, as Tools for the Sustainable Development of the Continent".
The head of state highlighted the importance of the issue of peace and peaceful coexistence within societies for African countries, "where it is essential to carry out permanent pedagogy, especially among young people", for the need to defend and preserve peace, as a primary condition for the economic and social development of countries.
"Since achieving our independence and for three consecutive decades, Angola has experienced the sad reality of an armed conflict between children of the same mother country, which has left us extremely useful lessons, having led us to disarm our spirits and embark on the path of peace, reconciliation, harmony, understanding and peaceful coexistence among all, and transforming our country into a space in which it became possible for us all to dedicate ourselves to the tasks of progress and development", he said.
According to the President, although cultural diversity constitutes an undeniable social asset, its distortion can create social tensions and even unnecessary conflicts, which is why the forum's theme poses the challenge of "forging new paradigms and raising respect for difference like a stone crucial in building societies increasingly immune to violence".
João Lourenço said that it is necessary to reflect on the relevance of developing public policies aimed at a culture of peace which, more than a concept, should be seen as a principle to be included in the countries' national development strategies.
Promoting a culture of peace, continued João Lourenço, implies valuing the collective, encourages respect for differences, enshrines diversity as a source of wealth to be protected and can act as a driving factor in reinforcing social justice, equity and inclusion.
According to the President, the African continent is mostly made up of young people, with a set of aspirations and expectations regarding its future, "which we must seek to meet, always taking into account its role as a driving force for change, evolution, of progress, development and the construction of creative and innovative societies".
João Lourenço defended initiatives to put a definitive end to conflicts in Africa and begin, "without any kind of constraint", the process of sustainable development in Africa, calling for concerted actions among all, with the active involvement of the AU, citing problematic examples such as Sudan, terrorist actions in the Sahel region and coups d'état in some countries in West and Central Africa.
"This situation has not always deserved our most vigorous condemnation and repulsion, and there are even cases in which coup plotters are given the same treatment as legitimate holders of power, which clashes with the principles and values defended by the African Union", he said.