Faith leaders gathered in Brussels have expressed their readiness to work with the European Union institutions to promote fundamental freedoms. This was the seventh in a series of annual meetings aimed at keeping dialogue open with churches and communities of conviction.
Against the backdrop of the long-awaited capture of the Bosnian-Serb military leader Ratko Mladic to face trial on charges of genocide, a question was raised about his troops receiving blessings before attacks against civilians, in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of France, Emmanuel Adamakis, said that there, sadly, religion had been manipulated, and that an isolated benediction in no way endorsed the acts which followed.
The President of the European Council spoke of humanity’s shared historic march toward freedom and justice, values rooted in the European Treaties.
Herman Van Rompuy referred to this year’s Arab rebellions in pursuit of those values: “These evolutions are not the work of fanatics or extremists. On the contrary, they prove that there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy, as indeed there was not with other religions. Our values are not in decline. This is, therefore, not the moment for Europeans to become less open, less tolerant, more egoist or materialist or even racists.”
It was underscored that cooperation with religious groups in an effective EU neighbourhood policy has a vast scope — from education and health to rebuilding post-conflict societies.