2012 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, Durres, Albania, 3-4 September

2012 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, took place in September in Durres, Albania; the theme  of 2012 exchange is: ” ”Taking responsibility for tomorrow’s Europe: the role of young people in the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue”. EIYN was present there: Lama Azab (EIYN Core Group) and Daniel Barton (IYC) were representing EIYN’s leadership at at this meeting. Julia Maria Koszewska (EIYN Core Group) was representing Poland. Several member organizations of EIYN were also present in Durres:  EUJS, EYCE, JECI-MIEC,  WSCF-Europe, represented by their leaders. Secretary General of European Council of Religious Leaders, Religions for Peace, Stein Villumstad also participated in the meeting.
The meeting was opened by Prof. Dr Sali Berisha –Prime Minister of Albania and different ministers of the Council of Europe, followed by remarks of religious leaders of Albania (Archbishop of Tirana Durrës and all Albania, Chief Rabbi of Tirana and Albania, Head of the Muslim Community of Albania), as well as religious leaders of France and the Head of the Delegation from the International Humanist and Ethical Union to the Council of Europe. The theme of the first panel discussion was: ”Raising young people’s awareness of common values and their transmission: the role of parents for education, interaction between the family and educators, intergenerational relations”.  After the lunch, the  participants of the meeting discussed”Solidarity and values: how solidarity and values are rooted in religions and non-religious convictions, what are the issues that can unite young people?”. 
The second day of the meeting  was opened by  third panel discussion on: ”Responsibility of young people for the promotion of understanding, respect and dialogue: risks and potential in the representation of religions and non-religious convictions, in particular in the new media”. The meeting was finished with a lunch in Tirana offered by the Albanian Ministry of Culture, followed by a cultural program: visiting places of worship of Albanian’s capital.In an introductory paper to the exchange panel discussion, we read: “Young people are like all human beings, capable of the worst as well as the best, swinging from fanaticism that unmans them to utopias that set them free…. Therein lies the trap of any debate on youth. As soon as there is question of youth, two factions appear: on one side the proponents of “youth victimised by society” deploring their casualisation, exclusion, ill-treatment, lack of recognition, etc.; on the other, the “society victimised by youth” camp in which there is condemnation of rising insecurity, antisocial behaviour, irresponsibility, etc.Although a majority of young Europeans enjoy a comparatively privileged situation, nonetheless a number of bitter appraisals must be made as regards unemployment, training, poverty and civic involvement.The economic climate, which has worsened since 2008, has had a marked negative impact on young people, and the effects are likely to last.

Special attention will therefore need to be paid to the issues of education, entry into working life, civic and voluntary activities, interest in public affairs, receptiveness to others and to the world taking in exchanges and encounters with young people of different origins, convictions and backgrounds.

Gender equality, combating discrimination in all its forms and, in general, observance of the “Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”.

Because it is fundamentally important to ensure the right to be different, but that cannot lead to difference in rights!

Can solidarity be strengthened in young people by open-mindedness, freedom of thought and expression, freedom to believe, disbelieve and change one’s convictions?
Which are the principal factors and vectors helping to build up the stock of reference values for individuals?
Is the human being in a state of cultural isolation or cultural fellowship?” ( by: Jean De Brueker, Deputy Secretary General of Centre d’Action Laïque).


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