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EVERLASTING VALUE AND PERMANENT ACTUALITY OF THE EDICT OF MILAN - ON THE WAY TO THE GREAT JUBILEE IN 2013 (2011-2013)

Association of Non-Governmental Organizations of Southeast Europe – CIVIS, with its partners - the Committee of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Charge of the Preparation of the Celebration of 1700 years of the Edict of Milan, the Austrian PRO ORIENTE Foundation and the Swiss Peace and Crises Management Foundation - envisaged the serial of two annual conferences that were organised in 2011 and 2012 within the project Everlasting Value and Permanent Actuality of the Edict Of Milan - On the Way to the Great Jubilee in 2013.

The first international semi-scientific conference, having the focus on the topic Everyone Should Believe as His Heart Wishes, was organised in the City of Nis (Serbia) from the 24th to the 26th February 2011. This successful meeting was to gather prominent historians and theorists from Austria, Hungary, France and the Western Balkans, dedicated to the research of time, personality and position of Constantine the Great and the Edict of Milan. This conference aimed at examining the freedom of religion in the light of historical events in 313, the importance of the document and the personality of Constantine the Great, born on the territory of the City of Nis.

The second international conference was held from the 2nd to the 5th of May 2012 in the City of Novi Sad (Serbia), with the topic The Edict of Milan (313-2013): A Basis for Freedom of Religion or Belief? The main goal of the conference was to open dialogue and emphasize fundamental European values, such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Participants had a dialogue on the institutional impact on Church-state relations (313-2013), and legal and political interpretation of the Edict of Milan.

The aim of this project was to bring out the importance of the document that had changed the course of history, the Edict of Milan, in the past as well as now, to the wider public and to raise awareness of the importance of the freedom of religion or belief; also, to bring back into focus the essence of the Edict - the right to freedom of religion, advancing the understanding and dialogue among representatives of religious communities and Churches, as well as among citizens in the Western Balkans in order to strengthen the peace building process in the region. This conference was organised on the European level and the guest partner was the Conference of European Churches.

The project had the support of His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Mr. Irinej and Apostolic Nuncio of the Holly See, H.E. Orlando Antonini. After both conferences, publications with participants’ presentations and conclusions were published.

The conference was supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in the Republic of Serbia; Diocese of Backa, Serbian Orthodox Church; Austrian-Swiss Diocese of the SOC; Committee for the construction of the Emperor Constantine the Great Complex, Nis; Belgrade representative offices of the companies АLPINE (Austria) and PORR (Austria); Swietelsky; Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and Renovabis Foundation.

INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND PEACE IN THE BALKANS IN THE PERIOD 1990-2009 (2009)

The realisation of the TV series Interreligious Dialogue and Peace in the Balkans in the period 1990-2009, was aimed at ameliorating the relations in the region of Southeast Europe. The project was implemented under the patronage of Secretary General of Council of Europe and donation of the Swiss Peace and Crises Management Foundation.

This significant TV series was composed of three episodes entitled: (1) Balkan Awakening; (2) The Past Warns; (3) Faith, Love, Hope. It was aimed at revealing the need for dialogue of all the citizens of our society, with emphasis on the role of interreligious dialogue and its value for society, an individual and peace.

Outstanding commentators have presented their opinions and stance: the ambassador of San Marino at the Council of Europe in charge of interreligious dialogue, Guido Bellatti Ceccolli; eminent religion scholar and professor at the Faculty of Philology, prof. Dr Darko Tanaskovic; president of Christian Cultural Centre, prof. Dr Radovan Bigovic; president of Protestant Church in Alsace, Augsburg and Lorraine, prof. Dr Jean François Collange; Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina, Grigorije; Belgrade Archbishop and Metropolit, Stanislav Hocevar; Rabbi Isak Asiel; Serbian Mufti, Islamic Community of Serbia, Muhamed ef. Jusufspahic; and chief Mufti of Islamic Community of Serbia, Muamer ef. Zukorlic.

THE CONTRIBUTION OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN BUILDING LASTING PEACE IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE (2008)

On the occasion of the European year of Intercultural Dialogue, CIVIS Association has organised an international conference entitled The Contribution of Churches and Religious Communities in Building Lasting Peace in Southeast Europe, in the premises of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The Churches’ and religious communities’ representatives have had the opportunity to exchange their opinions with European expert, and give concrete suggestions with regards to the contribution Churches and religious communities can make in establishing trust and reconciliation between nations and ethnic communities in the region, and all in pursuit of maintaining a fragile peace.   

Representatives of all religious communities and churches from Southeast Europe, ambassadors of permanent missions in the countries of Southeast Europe, prominent theologians and religion scholars attended the conference. A bilingual publication with speeches of all conference attendees was issued. Its promotion was held in Strasbourg, Zagreb and Belgrade.

 

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