A seminar at the European Commission was organized by the Bureau of European Policy (BEPA) in cooperation with the Order of Malta under the general title ‘‘Protecting the Holy Sites in Mediterranean-Contribution to the Intercultural Dialogue’’. The opening of the conference was made by the European commissioner Mrs. Androulla Vasileiou who in her speech emphasized the importance that the European Union is giving to the protection of the sacred sites and to the intercultural dialogue. As a proof of this the European programmes support the preservation of the cultural heritage: ancient theatres, traditional architecture, manuscripts and many more where preserved through programmes of the European Union. Since 2011, the European Union has established a reward with the name «European Heritage Label» which will be nominated to places of great symbolical value for the European Union. The commissioner also stressed that the holy places of the Mediterranean are an important part of our identity. They can help us to understand that they are richer that we believe and that is not something that can be minimized into certain political borders.

Scientists, academics, and specialists on religious freedom and of protection of sacred sites were the participants of the conference. The Church of Cyprus was represented by His Grace Bishop Porfyrios of Neapolis, director of the Office of the Church of Cyprus to the European Institutions. During the four meetings they discussed; the principles of protection of the sacred sites (security, transparency, function, importance, etc), the importance of the sacred sited for the intercultural dialogue, the sacred sites as such, the endangered art and the cultural heritage around the Mediterranean. The participants attended at a working launch during which the president of the European commission Mr. J Emanuel Barosso was present and who expressed his commitment for the protection of the sacred sites in the Mediterranean. As a proof of this he mentioned the annual meeting with the religious leaders of European Union. Mr. J. Buzek, former president of the European Parliament, closed the conference, while at the same time it was suggested that this conference should have continuity before the end of 2011 and especially in Nicosia which will be the presiding country of the European Union during the second semester of 2012.

 

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