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More than 200 participants at the opening of the Anna Lindh Foundation Inter-religious Forum in Tirana

More than 200 persons participated this morning at the official opening ceremony of the Anna Lindh Foundation Inter-religious Forum in Albanian capital,Tirana, which is organised in partnership with the Head of the Anna Lindh Network in Albania – the Albanian Forum for the Alliance of Civilizations.

The ceremony was inaugurated by His Excellency Dr. Bamir Topi, President of the Republic of Albania, in addition to the Albanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Mayor of Tirana, the director of the Albanian Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations, Besnik Mustafaj, and the Executive Director of the Foundation, Andreu Claret.

Speaking at the Forum, the Albanian President put an emphasis on the support his country is giving to the Euromed Partnership and to the Anna Lindh Foundation’s mission of promoting intercultural dialogue in the Region.

The opening gathered ambassadors of 28 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean in addition to representatives of religious communities in Albania, including the Heads of the Albanian Muslim and Bektashi communities, as well as the archbishops of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

The two days seminar on "Challenges and Solutions for Inter-religious Coexistence in the Euro-Mediterranean Region", which is taking place from 27 to 28 October 2009, aims at gathering 35 civil society representatives from 21 countries of the Euromed region to exchange ideas and good practices in the fields of education, inter-communal harmony and the role of religious leaders and practitioners to foster inter-religious coexistence.

“This Forum aims to face the political hijacking of the main religions and beliefs bringing them back to their original condition of being a factor of peace which must contribute to build the human dimension of the Euromed partnership" declared Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation, during the opening.

The Tirana Forum is one of the Foundation’s key meeting in the preparation programme for the ‘Anna Lindh Forum 2010’ which will gather over 500 civil society organizations in Barcelona next March 2010 under the Spanish Presidency of the European Union.

Following the opening, participants in the meeting will be involved in roundtable discussions on the themes ‘Education and Religious Diversity’, ‘Civil Society and Inter-Communal Harmony’ and the ‘Role of Religious Leads and Practitioners’, with a focus on developing recommendations for topics which can be addressed at the Anna Lindh Forum next March.