R E P O R T
Central and Eastern European
Regional Religious Youth Meeting
“Inter-Religious and Inter-Confessional Dialogue for
Confronting Violence and Advancing Shared Security”
April 16-18, 2006
The meeting started with…
The most important thing in thinking about the meeting idea was the inspiration taken from the Summit of Asian Religious Youth Leaders (June, 2005 in Ambon, Indonesia) where the representative of our organization was invited. Taking into account the common commitment to confront violence and advance shared security at all levels, we realized the need for joining the global initiative of the Religions for Peace for peace, justice and security.
Afterwards the proposal of having the Central and Eastern European Regional Religious Youth Meeting in Georgia came up and thanks to the enormous assistance for the Religions for Peace –International and Religions for Peace – Japan, the meeting was held.
Georgia, as part of the region shares the same concerns, needs, challenges and perspectives with other countries from region. On the one hand, we can observe so many commonalities in recent past and on the other hand the present developments in the region differ from country to country in terms of human rights protection which stays a cornerstone for building peaceful and democratic society. Some countries are still facing the obstacles in defending basic rights of their citizens, while others made significant advancement in ensuring civil society building. Many of the challenges facing the countries in the Central and Eastern Europe are not only common to all, but they have cross-border dimensions too (conflict resolution, regional security, terrorism).
But the phenomena of violence more or less concerns to all countries in the region and unfortunately we witness it occurring in our societies and creating favourable conditions for emerging new conflicts and/or exacerbating the old ones having taken place in the region. Addressing the issues of confronting violence and advancing shared security, we all agree on the vital role of dialogue, cooperation and intercultural understanding as one of the ways towards solving problems and building bridges. In this respect we focus on the role of religion and religious people in advancing dialogue, strengthening cooperation and respecting multiculturalism.
Besides of the above mentioned commonalities, one more similarity can be observed – most of the countries in the region face the problem of inter-confessional dialogue and understanding between the Christian faiths.
The venue of the meeting- Bakuriani, a mountain resort of Georgia, was selected because of its location suitable for the concentration on work and encouraging the spirituality. In the recent past it was used to be as truly intercultural place of the country.
We planned to hold the meeting either on 23rd April when Orthodox people in Georgia celebrates the Easter or on 16th April which is the Easter holiday for Catholic and Protestant believers here. Focusing on these days we guided with the most faithful principles of inter-religious dialogue and understanding.
By inviting young people of different religious backgrounds at the meeting, first of all we call them for understanding and dialogue. The symbol of which would be the celebration of the EASTER together. We believe that a true inter-religious cooperation should be started with the “sharing the table with brother” which means the sharing of each others’ happiness and concerns.
The meeting was based on….
Sixteen (16) religious young people from thirteen (13) Central and Eastern European countries, representing Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities, who commit themselves to confront violence and advance shared security in their region. The meeting gather religious youth leaders and active participants in interreligious dialogue who declared the establishment of the Central and Eastern European Interreligious Youth Network.
At the opening session, senior religious leaders of Georgia addressed the meeting participants. In their letters of encouragement religious leaders highlighted the importance of the meeting from the global perspectives of peace, dialogue and security.
The meeting used interactive panel discussions and working groups which analyzed country specific cases of conflict, and identified the root causes of violence. Participants paid great attention to the identification of their specific assets (spiritual, moral, and social) towards violence and advancing shared security. The very specific forms of violence, such as Islamophobia, anti-Semitic trends, ethno-territorial conflicts and etc were presented.
At the second day, which was the Palm Sunday, participants visited a local Orthodox church. The visit was vivid expression of religious tolerance towards each others’ faiths especially if taking into account the previous experiences when people of different faiths were not allowed to enter the Orthodox churches in Georgia. It was unforgettable feeling listening to the praying in different languages expressing the same content and commitment of participants.
One of the largest TV Channels in Georgia reported about the meeting and in his interview the representative of the government of Georgia highly estimated the work done by the WCRP and the local host organisation.
And the meeting ended up by….
By the end of the meeting was launched the Central and Eastern European Interreligious Youth Network which adopted a joint statement entitled as Bakuriani Declaration and established a program sub-committee. The sub-committee, consisting of seven (7) members of the Network, will work to develop the concept paper with action plan in the fields of conflict resolution, peace-building, intercultural education, sustainable development and etc.
This meeting served as a regional preparatory meeting for the Religions for Peace World Youth Assembly to be held in Hiroshima and Kyoto, Japan in August 2006. The World Youth Assembly will be followed by the Religions for Peace 8th World Assembly, which will bring together approximately 500 senior religious leaders from six continents to advance multi-religious collaboration for peace and sustainable development.