Conference on Peace and Tolerance II
October 26, 2005
New York
Conference on Peace and Tolerance II Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation (ACF); Senior Rabbi, Park East Synagogue and His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch, will co-sponsor the Conference on Peace and Tolerance II: Dialogue and Understanding in Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Rabbi Schneier summarized the focus of the three day meeting: “Interfaith dialogue and the promotion of religious freedom, tolerance and cooperation are essential to building a civil society. In Kosovo in particular, and in areas of the Balkans, Central Asia and the Caucasus it is vital that Muslim, Christian (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) and Jewish religious leaders continue efforts to contribute to the peace and stability through inter-religious action. The objective of the Peace and Tolerance Conference is to stimulate and energize religious leaders to be the voice of conciliation, and not incitement.”

Leaders attending the Conference include ---from Kosovo: Mufti Dr. Naim Ternava, Mufti of Kosovo and President of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, Prof. Qemajl Morina, Vice Dean of the Islamic Faculty in Pristina, and Most Rev. Marko Sopi, Catholic Bishop of Kosovo, and a representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo. Also attending are Monsignor Ivo Tomasevic representing Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, His Beatitude Mesrob Mutafyan II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul & All Turkey; as well as representatives of Pope Benedict XVI, Patriarch Alexy II of All Russia and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.

Rabbi Schneier defined the context of the Conference, “At this propitious moment, when the international community is beginning to discuss the status of Kosovo in the United Nations, our goal is to strengthen peace, cooperation and stability through interfaith dialogue.”

In 1999, ACF brought together in Vienna, under the auspices of the Austrian government, the religious leaders of Kosovo to reinforce the bonds of peace and tolerance established at earlier ACF-sponsored accords.

In 1994, The Appeal of Conscience Foundation and The Ecumenical Patriarchate convened a Conference on Peace and Tolerance in Istanbul to rally religious leaders to help bring about an end to the conflict in the Balkans and to deal with the scourge of nationalism and ethnic conflict in the Caucasus. The Bosphorous Declaration was adopted, which rejected “any attempt to corrupt the basic tenets of our faith by means of false interpretation and unchecked nationalism”.

In 1992, ACF brought together Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, Archbishop Vinko Puljic of Bosnia and Rais Ulema Jakub Selimoski of Bosnia for their first meeting in Berne, Switzerland to halt further bloodshed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and adopted the Berne Declaration, which stated that, a “Crime perpetrated in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion.”

Since its founding in 1965, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders, has strived to promote religious freedom and human rights worldwide, believing that freedom, democracy and human rights are the fundamental values that give the nations of the world their best hope for peace, security and economic strength at a time of increasing ethnic conflict in many regions of the world.

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