Zovko as moderator on the XXII annual EPP conference on intercultural and religious dialogue
Brussels, 13 December 2019,
Member of the European Parliament Željana Zovko took part as moderator of a panel in the XXII Annual conference on Intercultural and religous dialogue organised by the EPP Group. The conference was titled „Human fraternity for World Peace and living Together“ and focused on the Declaration signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in February 2019.
Zovko had the privilege to open the debate on the main challenges and new initiatives on how to enhance interreligious relations. During this session several high level participants intervened, such as Riay Tatary Bakry, President of the Spanish Islamic Committee and Imam of Madrid, Fr. Michael O’Sullivan, Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, Timo Aytaç Güzelmansur, Managing Director of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Encounter and Documentation and Rabbi Avi Tawil, Director of the European Jewish Community Centre.
Zovko suggested that the Declaration of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar should be used to help to improve the situation of minorties around the world facing persecution for their belief and to foster peace building and reconciliation. She called upon the European External Action Service to include the Declaration in their communication strategy for third countries as part of its public diplomacy to clarify what is needed to deepen the understanding, tolerance and respect for religious minorities and the freedom of religion and belief.
Zovko is an active member of the EPP Group Intercultural and Religious Dialogue and she has been so during the last mandate as well. She has organized and led a visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina with a group of Members of the European Parliament to encourage the dialogue between religious communities to facilitate the conclusion of political compromises in the country. Zovko was also the leading force behind the first visit of Azerbaijani religious leaders to European parliament and initiated the exhibition of the reconstruction of three religious sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina: the catholic monastery in Plehan, the Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka and the Orthodox Church in Mostar.