Being representatives of Jewish, Muslim and Christian youth organisations and active participants in interreligious dialogue, having discussed issues of violence and shared security, we would like to conclude the Central and Eastern European Interreligious Youth Meeting hosted by the Religions for Peace and the Union ‘Century 21’ in Bakuriani, Georgia, in April 2006, by declaring the following:
We reiterate and underline our belief that every human being, regardless of faith, gender or ethnicity, has the ultimate vocation and right to live in peace and harmony with her or his sisters and brothers as beloved and unique people of God.
With deep concern we witness the everyday reality of our societies plagued with old and new forms of violence, starting with verbal attacks, hate speeches and acts, and ending with serious violations of human rights. It is with deep regret that we observe the continuous conflicts in our region stemming from territorial, political, power or other claims.
We see a serious lack of moral responsibility resulting in violent acts of hatred in our communities, often committed by young people like ourselves. We are deeply concerned by the rise of phobias of the ‘Other,’ such as anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.
Some of the most disturbing and challenging forms of violence that we identified during our panel discussions and working group sessions are the ongoing ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes; violence as a result of intolerance, ignorance, prejudice and misinformation; and violence against women and children, including domestic violence and human trafficking.
Behind all these forms and types of violence and conflicts, we managed to identify some of the root causes omnipresent. At the basis of violence and lack of dialogue we find first of all questions of identity: the various and parallel claims for uniqueness or even superiority.
Apart from identities too exclusively and hardheartedly defined, different psychological motives come into play, such as aggressivity, pride, envy, jealousy, or guilt, inferiority and fear.
These inner reasons are reinforced by causes emerging from history and society: politics, economics, demography, power and poverty are all playing their parts in these conflicts and violence.
Finally, non-dialogical ideologies are fuelled by biased media representations, demonizing propaganda, and lack of proper mutual education within faith-based communities, many times leading even to a corruption of our teachings and spiritualities.
We as representatives of religious youth and active participants of interreligious dialogue understand and value the enormous potential that lies in us facing together the mentioned concerns. We have living ideals and dreams that we are determined to seek, and we also have energy and enthusiasm to live up to them.
We are willing to build friendships and to use them for making the world a better place. We also understand and acknowledge that religion can serve as a powerful tool for reaching out to people in need and for building peace and dialogue.
Therefore we are determined to use our institutional, intellectual and spiritual potentials and enthusiasm by establishing a Central and Eastern European Interreligious Youth Network.
Members of the network shall be national, regional and international faith-based youth movements, or secular ones if they pursue compatible aims. We are committed to work together with other interreligious regional youth networks.
Among the main issues of our network, we enlist the following: conflict prevention, solution and transformation; peace and non-violence, spiritual enrichment, cultural diversity, solidarity and charity, human rights, health and well-being, gender issues, and ecology.
We would like to address these topics through the following means: seminars, workshops, conferences, exchange programmes, sharing creative tools and methods, trainings, working camps, pilgrimages and common celebrations; publications, books, and an internet portal in order to more effectively preserve and disseminate our common findings.
Furthermore, we will work by facilitating interreligious and interconfessional dialogue, promoting tolerance and mutual understanding, conducting research and increasing knowledge about each other’s traditions and religions, networking, monitoring challenges and activities concerning interreligious dialogue, and providing advisory and legal proposals for governmental and religious bodies.
We deeply appreciate the excellent work done by our local hosts and the Union ‘Century 21’, and seek the continuous support of Religions for Peace in facilitating the development of our network. We call upon other individuals, movements and institutions who share our concerns to join in these endeavours and to integrate these issues into their agendas.
May the blessings of God Almighty dwell upon our dialogue, solidarity and common action.