When different religions and world views meet, this can create a beneficial impetus for society, culture and science, but it can also strengthen existing conflicts and tensions. Since 2004 Switzerland has been making efforts in its activities for peace to involve religious and political actors with different world views but who are willing to engage in dialogue – for example in Tajikistan, Sri Lanka and Lebanon. It also contributes the expertise it has acquired to international bodies, such as the UN Alliance of Civilisations.
" The useful and innovative efforts of Switzerland have met with a positive response from its partners", said ambassador Claude Wild, the new head of Political Affairs Division IV, in his welcoming speech. FDFA Secretary General Peter Maurer stressed the importance of frank and unbiased dialogue with all parties, even if these parties are perceived as difficult. " To establish trust and to promote peaceful coexistence, words must be followed by deeds, in the shape of specific projects."
In his speech, Jorge Sampaio, the high representative of the UN Alliance of Civilisations, referred to the political impact of different world views and stressed the need to take them into account in the interest of peaceful coexistence.
In the following discussion between FDFA State Secretary Peter Maurer, Amina Rasul Bernardo, President of the "Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy", Rajmohan Gandhi, President of "Initiatives of Change International", David Glass, former director of the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs and Bob Roberts, an evangelical pastor from the USA, the emphasis was on exchanging experiences and looking for new ways forward.
The workshops in the afternoon deal with three topics in greater depth: the power of the media, the role of civil society and the practical implementation of theoretical insights.
In the concluding discussion, national councillors Yvette Estermann (SVP) and Ada Marra (SP), journalist Amira Hafner-Al Jabaji, Pieter Omtzigt, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and Claude Wild, head of Political Affairs Division IV, discuss how peaceful coexistence can be achieved in Switzerland and in the world, now and in the future.
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