Tuesday, November 4, 2008


VATICAN CITY, Vatican (November 4,2008) - A three-day historic Muslim-Catholic summit will open today in Vatican City. To attend the talks are 48 religious leaders and scholars from the two faiths or 24 representatives each.

Leading the Muslim side is the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric, while the Catholics will be headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

According to Cardinal Tauran, the summit starts a new chapter in the long history of dialogue between the two major religions of the world. There are about 1.3 billion Muslims and 1 billion Catholics throughout the world.

Aside from seeking to establish a better inter-faith communication, the dialogue seeks to defuse future tensions between Muslims and Catholics, which soured after Pope Benedict offended Islam in his speech in 2006. The pontiff's speech sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

It also led Muslim scholars to seek a theological dialogue with the Pope, called the Common Word. The appeal has over 250 signatories.

Aside from the papal speech, Muslim leaders pointed to the publication of offending cartoons in a Danish daily in 2005 depicting the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad, as another reason behind the growing gap between the two faiths.

Today the main topic will be God's love, while neighbor's love will be discussed Wednesday. On Thursday the delegates will meet Pope Benedict.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 4,2008) - Religious leaders of different faiths, working together through Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, committed to advance a ban on cluster munitions, which—like landmines— indiscriminately kill and injure civilians.

Leader of the Bosnian Islamic Community and a Co-President of the Religions for Peace World Council Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric stated:

“Banning cluster munitions is not a work to honor the angels that have lost their lives by this morally reprehensible weapon, but to protect those not yet born."

Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric and the Bosnian Interreligious Council hosted the European Faith Leaders Conference on Cluster Munitions on 29–30 October, which was co-sponsored by Religions for Peace International, Religions for Peace ECRL and Handicap International.

“For more than 60 years, cluster munitions have killed and wounded innocent people—many of them children—causing suffering, loss, and hardship for thousands in more than 30 countries,” the religious leaders said in a statement.

Cluster munitions “continue to inflict injury and death for years—sometimes decades—after the end of a war. It is not peace when children cannot play safely in their playgrounds. It is not peace when farmers cannot cultivate their fields, nor fishermen draw their nets without fear. It is not peace when people cannot move freely in their local communities.”

“To fail to sign the treaty banning cluster munitions is to fail humanity,” said Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, Moderator of the Religions for Peace European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL).

“We cannot take away the sorrow of those affected, but we can accompany them in their hope for justice,” he said.

Secretary General Dr. William F. Vendley stated that: “Disarmament is central to the mission of Religions for Peace. Since its founding in 1970, we have worked to advance nuclear weapons non-proliferation and reduction. Religions for Peace is committed to responding to the changing threats of arms, including the threat of cluster bombs.”

The religious leaders committed themselves to work to ensure the implementation of a global treaty that bans cluster munitions. Religions for Peace has joined hands with other groups in the Cluster Munitions Coalition committed to the ban of cluster munitions.

Earlier this year, 60 religious leaders from Religions for Peace signed an international appeal advocating the ban. A treaty was negotiated during the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May 2008 and adopted there by all 107 participating governments. It will be signed at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, in December 2008. Religions for Peace representatives will be present in that ceremony.

The central provision of the Cluster Munitions Convention is the ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. The treaty includes new and important obligations to protect and promote the human rights of cluster munitions victims and to ensure they receive the assistance they need to live full lives. The treaty also requires that unexploded cluster munitions are cleared within ten years.

Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. Headquartered in New York and accredited to the United Nations, Religions for Peace works through affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents.


IZMIR, Turkey (November 4,2008) - The President of Bosnia Haris Silajdzic said yesterday that EU could become a union in the proper sense when Turkey became a member.

President Slajdzic delivered a speech at the "9th Annual North South Europe Economic Forum" held in the Aegean Turkish city of Izmir.

During his speech,President Slajdzic said that the southeastern Europe could not complete themselves without the presence of Turkey.

Noting that EU could not stand being trapped inside its borders,
President Slajdzic said EU could not afford to leave aside a bridge like Turkey which connects the continent to Asia.


GORAZDE, Bosnia (November 4,2008) - Representatives of German companies Striebel & John Gmbh and Schmersal ILS are interested to invest in the construction of a plant in the eastern Bosnian town of Gorazde that would create jobs for 800 Bosnian workers.

This was announced yesterday during another one of their visits to Gorazde, organized by the owners of Emka Bosnie and Bekto Precise – Fridhelm Runge and Redzo Bekto. The two delegations had meetings with local officials, who pledged their full support and cooperation.


SARAJEVO, Bosnia (November 4,2008) - The Bosnian Minister of Security Tarik Sadovic and the Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf signed visa facilitation and readmission agreements in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo yesterday.

The visa facilitation agreement refers to 20 categories of population. It will simplify the procedure for obtaining a visa for longer periods, but also reduce the paperwork required, Minister Sadovic said.

The two sides also discussed the establishment of a migration partnership between Bosnian and Swiss governments.