RTCYPP News 20.11.17

Office of the RTCYPP was invited to share its experience and lessons learnt with the religious leaders of Cyprus working together for human rights, conflict transformation and reconciliation at a roundtable discussion on ”Perspectives on the Role of Religion in Diplomacy, Foreign Policy and International Affairs” taking place in Byblos, Lebanon from 18-19 November 2017. Organized and hosted by the Swedish Institute Alexandria and Forward Thinking the deliberations aimed at building on the series of Discussion Papers by the Helsinki Policy Forum on “Religious Literacy, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy”.

The Round Table facilitated a discussion around religious literacy and diplomacy providing a fascinating dialogue between different perspectives exploring a framework that would increase religious literacy in foreign policy and international affairs. The deliberations raised awareness and increased understanding of the complexity of the different perspectives on how religious and non-religious worldviews in society can accommodate one another and how this informs policy-making.

The meetings offered a unique opportunity for the Cyprus experience to be shared and discussed with regional and international experts, practitioners and diplomats including senior parliamentarians, political leaders and government officials from the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe including Turkey.

Representing the RTCYPP were Mufti Talip Atalay of Cyprus, Archbishop Khoren Toghramadjian of the Armenian Church of Cyprus and the Executive Coordinator and Facilitator of the RTCYPP, Salpy Eskidjian.
Since 2014, the Helsinki Policy Forum coordinated by Forward Thinking, facilitates informal discussions on identified issues of concern in the Middle East , North Africa and Gulf regions aimed at deepening understanding and promoting enlightened policy responses.

Background Information:
Swedish Institute Alexandria (SwedAlex) was established following an agreement between the governments of Sweden and Egypt in 1999 and was inaugurated, on the 3rd of October 2000 by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Egypt, Ms A. Lindh, and Mr A. Moussa.
The Swedish Institute Alexandria (SwedAlex) is an autonomous part of Sweden’s Foreign Service. Its main goal is to promote dialogue between Europe and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) in order to make Europeans and people in the region better understand each other. It focuses on the following focus areas:
Transition for Democracy and Development
Culture, Religion and pluralism in political change
Sustainability, Climate Change and investing in the future
Women Rights and Gender Equality
The overarching goal is to promote peace and pluralism through dialogue and creating mutual relationships between the people and cultures of Sweden and Egypt on the one hand and Europe and Middle East and North Africa on the other hand.
Forward Thinking is a proactive, demand-driven, facilitative organization that works:
§ To promote a more inclusive peace process in the Middle East.
§ To facilitate political dialogues in, and between, the Arab/Muslim and Western worlds.
§ To promote in the UK greater understanding and confidence between the diverse grassroots Muslim communities and the wider society including the Media and the British establishment.
The Helsinki Policy Forum (HPF), established in 2014 with the financial support of the Finnish Government, is an integrated part of Forward Thinking. The HPF aims to respond to the current context and provide a secure space for an honest exchange of views on the challenges and opportunities facing the MENA/Gulf region and Western governments.

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