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Interfaith conference brings global faith and civil society leaders to Kosovo to mark the start of the Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation

Pristina, 23 May 2014 - Over 150 guests from nearly 50 countries will convene in the historic city of Prizren from 23 to 25 May for the second annual interfaith conference, which also marks the start of The Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation in Kosovo, taking place from 23 to 30 May. Continued respect and understanding between communities is a priority for Kosovo, drawing on the country’s long history of religious diversity.

Following the success of last year’s conference in Peja, this second annual conference on interfaith dialogue is bringing together faith leaders, diplomats, lawyers, NGO leaders, academics, civil society and international media representatives. Entitled Religion and Politics: Enhancing Interfaith Dialogue as a Means of Democratic Development, participants will contribute to the ongoing debate on the role of religion and interfaith dialogue in the public sphere of contemporary societies, over the course of this two-day event taking place at Hotel Theranda.

The conference proceedings will be opened by the President of the Republic of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga on the evening of Friday 23 May. She is expected to speak about Kosovo’s continued commitment to harmony amongst its own diverse communities. In advance, President Jahjaga said:
“To chart our path toward creating a Kosovo that would be a home to all its citizens we need not look very far. Our point of reference was, and is, our tradition of multiculturalism that has characterized Kosovo’s landscape for centuries.”

With the conference commencing later today, the Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said:
“I am pleased to welcome international faith leaders and practioners to take part in these important debates on the role of religion and politics. Kosovo remains determined to demonstrate its role as a leader in facilitating interfaith dialogue not only amongst our own faith communities, but also in the wider Balkans region and beyond, as an active participant in the global community.”
 
Mr Hoxhaj will give a speech to conference participants tomorrow, on Saturday 24 May.

Faith leaders from across Kosovo’s diverse communities, including Mufti Naim Ternava of the Islamic Community of Kosovo and Father Sava of the Serbian Orthodox Church will also be invited to make remarks as the conference opens on Friday evening.  The leader of the Jewish community in Kosovo, Votim Demiri, will also read a letter sent to the conference by the Chief Rabbi of Israel. 

The conference is hosted by the Republic of Kosovo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of international donors and civil society partners. The conference has the support of many partners, including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Norwegian and US Embassies in Pristina, the European Union Office in Kosovo, the British Council in Kosovo, and the Office of the President of Kosovo.

Prominent guests include Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, a Cardinal Deacon at the Vatican; Budimir Loncar, former Foreign Minister for Yugoslavia and Faisal Bin Muaammar, Secretary-General of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID).

This flagship, inaugural event also marks the start of a series of events during the Week of Tolerance and Reconciliation to promote continued dialogue and understanding in Kosovo and beyond. These include the launch of the book “The Destruction of Islamic Heritage in the Kosovo War 1998-1999” at the National Library of Kosovo on 27 May and a public lecture by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan on “Quran and Love” on 29 May.

For further information please visit the Interfaith Kosovo website on http://interfaithkosovo.org/  or follow @InterfaithRKS and join the debate using #interfaith #Kosovo #Interfaithkosovo14
For further details, please contact Bukurie Bajraliu 049 302 382 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Office.