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The Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation celebrates diversity and dialogue in Kosovo

Pristina, Friday 17 May 2013 - Tolerance Week in Kosovo, taking place from 20 to 26 May, includes a series of events bringing together communities and global leaders committed to a positive and open dialogue. Over 300 guests from nearly 50 countries across five continents will come to Kosovo.

Respect and understanding between communities is an important priority for Kosovo, drawing both on the country’s long history of religious diversity, and the more recent historical legacy of conflict in Kosovo and the wider region.
Chairman of Parliamentary Commission on European Integration Lutfi Haziri said: “We are looking forward as a Parliament to the series of the events that will mark the traditional values of tolerance of the peace-loving people of Kosovo. From the Hiroshima Stone of Peace to the 10th Jubilee South-European Gathering, various events will gather global leaders in Kosovo, confirming our desire to give contribution to global peace and reconciliation.”

Deputy Foreign Minister, Petrit Selimi said: “I am very much looking forward to the Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation, and warmly welcome international faith leaders, diplomats, academics and visitors who will be joining us to see for themselves that Kosovo is secular in nature, and has a great respect for diversity and dialogue.”

Furthermore, Selimi said: “Across the world, most people know about the Kosovo War. But what they don’t know is that religious communities have lived here together peacefully for generations. Whether Muslim, Christian, Orthodox or Jewish, our cultural heritage is shaped by this diversity. Mosques and churches can be found side-by-side in many of our towns. We are committed to interfaith dialogue and respect for all.”

Father Donald Reeves of the UK Charity Soul of Europe, said "My organisation is proud to support this unique global gathering in Kosovo, which will be of great importance to the contemporary debate on faith and tolerance. We are very happy to be working jointly with Kosovo institutions in enabling progressive debate on these issues."

The Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation will commence on Monday 20th May, as Kosovo receives its own Stone for Peace, joining the group of the cities that have honoured victims of war with dedicated space to wish for a more peaceful world. This symbolic gesture from has been shared across the globe by the people of Hiroshima in Japan. The Stone for Peace will be placed at the National Museum in a ceremony hosted by President Atifete Jahjaga with Deputy Culture Minister Hajdin Abazi, and the Mayor of Pristina Isa Mustafa.

The inauguration of Holocaust Memorial by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci on 23rd May on the site of Pristina’s last remaining Jewish synagogue will become a permanent reminder of the important presence of Kosovo’s small Jewish community. Kosovo also shares the Albanian code of Besa or “honour” in which many Muslims saved Jews during the Second World War.

Towards the end of the week, a 10th Jubilee South-European Gathering (National Prayer Breakfast) in Pristina will be hosted by the Kosovo Parliament from 24-26 May and will also be attended by the President, Prime Minister and the leader of Opposition Isa Mustafa.

The Interfaith Conference also takes place in Peja from 24 to 26 of May will be an important forum for critical debate and dialogue on interfaith issues in Kosovo. Minister Hoxhaj will be hosting together with ecumenical organizations from Kosovo and the UK, bringing together 160 guests including community leaders, faith leaders and experts from 42 countries to discuss the issues of interfaith dialogue in Europe and beyond.

For further information on any of these events, please visit the Interfaith Kosovo website on http://interfaithkosovo.org/ or follow @InterfaithKosovo on twitter using #Interfaith #Kosovo.

Or contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Office on: artan.behrami@rks-gov.net, or drilon.zogaj@rks-gov.net.