Prishtina, 27 May 2014 - Kosovo’s international Interfaith Conference, which took place in Prizren from 23-25 May concluded with a desire to continue the dialogue by building on the positive expressions of co-existence, as part of a process towards greater peace and understanding.
With 150 participants from around the world taking part in discussions on the conference theme of Religion and Politics: Enhancing Interfaith Dialogue as a means of Democratic Development, this annual event has become a truly unique contribution to dialogue both in the region, and internationally.
Over the two-day conference discussed a range of issues, under Chatham House rules, allowing for free and frank dialogue. On the first full day debates, 24 May, lively panel discussions covered subjects ranging from the politics of faith to the role of faith in secular societies, as the speakers sought to address questions about what difference interfaith dialogue can really make and whether European Muslims have a common template.
In the evening, guests were invited to the opening of the photography exhibition Faith the Norwegian artist Kenn Opprann at the Archaeological Museum and clock tower, co-hosted with the EU Office in Kosovo. EU Special Representative in Kosovo, Samuel Zbogar had addressed participants earlier in the day.
As discussions re-opened on 25 May, Deputy Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi spoke at a panel session on the role of social media in advancing progressive dialogue, and the danger that can also be used to spread extremist ideologies. He was joined on the panel by international journalists and civil society representatives.
Formal discussions closed with a consideration on the future of Interfaith efforts, and sources of support for sustainable and long-term results towards achieving piece. Secretary General of KAICIID Faisal.
In the final speech of the conference itself, Father Donald Reeves, of the organization Soul of Europe, said:
"Real change happens when those who do not normally speak are heard by those who do not normally listen."
As the conference closed, participants took a tour of Prizren, to be able to experience Kosovo’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious heritage for themselves. They visited historic and religious sites including the medieval fortress, 14th century Orthodox churches, the seat of the Catholic Church in Kosovo, the Turkish baths and the 17th century Sinan Pasha Mosque.
For a full list of participants on each of the panels, please see the full program here:
For further information, please visit the Interfaith Kosovo website on http://interfaithkosovo.org/ or follow @InterfaithRKS on twitter using #Interfaith #Kosovo or #interfaithkosovo14.