TIRANA – The international meeting in Tirana opens with a message from Pope Francis and one from the President of Italy Sergio Mattarella. The meeting is called “Peace is always possible” and it is promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The opening ceremony will take place in the conference centre of the Albanian capital, where a few thousand of people are expected to attend. The founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio Andrea Riccardi and the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama will give the opening speeches. They will bring greetings from the Albanian Welfare and Youth Minister Blendi Klosi and the President of the Republic of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic. Comments are also expected from the Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando; the Patriarch of Chaldean Catholics of Babylon (Iraq) Louis Raphael I Sako; the Primate of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Churches Anastasios; the ex chief rabbi of Ireland David Rosen and the General Secretary of the Al-Sharif Islamic Research Academy in Al-Azhar Muby al-Din Afifi; finally also of the President of the Research Hindu Foundation of Mumbay (India) Sudheendra Kulkarni.
For three days the Albanian capital will gather: 400 religious leaders; representatives of the different cultures and traditions of the world as well as missionaries and many youths from Europe, Asia and Africa. They will all participate to 27 thematic Panels and will make Tirana the capital of dialogue and peace. The aim is to build a new story that will blend in the peaceful strength of all religions, opposed to violence with concrete and real proposals. “Religion – highlights the President of Sant’Egidio Marco Impagliazzo – is back on the table of personal and societal life, after a Twentieth Century when people concentrated too much on having many choices and paid little attention on what those choices really meant”.
The Community of Sant’Egidio has been a great friend of Albania for at least 30 years, even before the fall of the Communist era. The country of eagles, once an official Atheist state, is now open to religions and has become an example of peaceful coexistence, open to Europe and active in the construction of sustainable development and the overcoming of social inequalities (inequalities which are still strongly present in the country). The meeting in Tirana will conclude on Tuesday afternoon with a far-reaching prayer for peace and the reading of the Peace Appeal 2015, that the youth will hand over to the religious leaders and the world leaders attending the ceremony.