20 October 2015 The participants of the conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” in Athens

20 October 2015 The participants of the conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” in Athens

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Aleksandar Cotric at International Conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” in Athens

Aleksandar Cotric, MP and Head of the National Assembly standing delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, took part in the international conference on “Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East” on 19 and 20 October in Athens, where he pointed out that “growth of extremism and endangerment of religious freedoms is a serious challenge for the international community”.

“Destabilisation in the Middle East is the result not only of civil unrest, but also of the fact that some countries have their own political and economic agendas. Some countries incite the inter-confessional conflict in the area with dire consequences. When killers, kidnappers and extremists are being armed, that cannot possibly be justified by far-reaching political goals. Supported from outside, destabilisation of the Middle East has led Christians to the brink of extinction in several countries. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon labelled the “cleansing” of Christians in the Middle East as a crime, yet the governments of some leading countries in the international community remain silent on the issue”, said Cotric.

He said that “the world should be made aware of the tragic position of Christians in the Middle East and urge for a peaceful solution of the conflict by interfaith and international dialogue”.

The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy considers the support to the persecuted Christians to be extremely important and one of its key tasks. We know that extremists demolish churches and Christian structures and destroy the sacred places important for the entire Christian world. We feel the suffering of Syrian and Iraqi Christians as our own. The Serbian people know very well what war and exile of the Christian faith are because something similar has been happening for decades in Kosovo-Metohija”, said Cotric.

“The situation of Christians in the Middle East should regularly be put on the agenda of international conferences and events in the presence of religious and political dignitaries. We have to constantly address the international community, international organisations, political and religious leaders and point out the consequences of the mass exodus of Christians from their ancient homelands and appeal to them to implement the measures necessary to protect and preserve the Christian presence in that region”, said MP Cotric.

The Conference in Athens was organised by the Greek Foreign Ministry and it was dedicated to the humanitarian crisis among the religious communities and cultural subjects in the Middle East due to the existing conflicts, tensions and extremism.

The participants of the conference, patriarchs and heads of Christian churches, religious leaders of Muslim and Jewish communities, distinguished religious figures, representatives of international politics, the academic community and civil society, were gravely worried by the dire humanitarian situation and condemned the violation of human rights, acts of terrorism and violent extremism committed against the religious and cultural communities in the context of the long-standing conflict in the area, especially in Syria and Iraq.

In the official conclusions, the conference asked to help raise awareness on these issues and invest urgent international efforts into humanitarian aid to these communities, provide protection from violence, exile and discrimination, and ensure safe return.

The participants of the conference said that all the responsible subjects should undertake all necessary measures to stop the conflict and ensure the basic human rights and religious freedoms for all the communities and their members’ right to remain in their ancestral country, where they have lived for thousands of years, and defend the universal values of tolerance, multiculturalism, pluralism and peaceful coexistence.

The participants said that the situation should be closely monitored and ideas exchanged about the Greek proposal to set up mechanisms to monitor the situation in the Middle East and a Centre in Athens. The Centre will monitor the situation as regards freedom of confession and cultural pluralism and the codification of different problems so as to draft specific proposals on how to address the abovementioned. The participants of the conference were invited to take part in the Centre’s activities.

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wednesday, 15 july
  • 13.00 - press conference of MPs Sasa Radulovic, Branka Stamenkovic and Vojin Biljic (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)

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