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EU dialogue with religious leaders of Serbia

Ομιλία στην εκδήλωση που διοργάνωσε η Γενική Διεύθυνση Διεύρυνσης της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής στις Βρυξέλλες με τίτλο “EU dialogue with religious leaders of Serbia”

Ladies and gentlemen,

Honourable representatives of religious communities in Serbia

On behalf of my political group and in my capacity as rapporteur of the European Parliament on Enlargement, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you here at the European Parliament.

We, the Socialists and Democrats, firmly believe in the usefulness of multicultural and interreligious dialogue. Let me start, therefore, by thanking DG enlargement of the European Commission for the invitation to address you and for the opportunity to have you today with us.

As European Parliament, we support all those initiatives creating awareness among the population of the candidate countries of the existence of religious diversity. Our aim is to build up more tolerance, contributing in this way to the democratic consolidation and reconciliation. Freedom of expression, tolerance and dialogue between different cultures, religions and beliefs are, in my view, core values of the European integration. In this context your role, the role of churches and religious communities, is crucial.

Serbia is a traumatised society that has still to come to terms with the break up of Jugoslavia. You have a major responsibility not only in bridging interreligious divides, but also in healing the wounds of the past. You can contribute to the difficult task of reconciliation within the borders of Serbia today as well as in other countries of the region. As you know, regional cooperation is a key priority of the EU’s policy in the Western Balkans.

We just welcomed Croatia as a new member of the European Union. We believe that this is a positive development for this country and the region as a whole. This accession gives indeed the message that enlargement continues despite the economic crisis. This crisis, however, exists. The deep and widespread recession is a reality that affects all of us. Again, I believe that the role of the religious communities is important in alleviating the social consequences and avoiding extremism.
I would be therefore very much interested in your views on these subjects. I would like to hear from you how you are working for building tolerance and promote reconciliation. What is your assessment of the European perspective of Serbia and what you believe the European Parliament should do to support your efforts in alleviating the social consequences of the economic crisis?

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