Spiritual leaders and experts of Serbia supported Kazakhstan's efforts in promoting interreligious dialogue


Belgrade, June 8, 2022 – The Embassy of Kazakhstan in Serbia, supported by the N.Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Intercivilizational Dialogue, organized an expert round table on the topic «Interfaith and Intercivilizational Dialogue for Peace and Harmony», dedicated to the VII Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions (September 14-15, 2022, Nur-Sultan).

Nurlan Yesimov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Center, moderated the event, which was held in a hybrid format. It was attended by the head of the Department for Cooperation with Churches and Religious Communities of the Ministry of Justice of Serbia, heads and representatives of the Serbian Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish religious communities, expert community and the media.

Opening the round table, Mr. Bolat Sarsenbayev, a Chairman of the Board of the N.Nazarbayev Center for the Development of Interfaith and Intercivilizational Dialogue, in his video address presented the Serbian participants with overview data on the Congress and Kazakhstan's experience in maintaining spiritual harmony.

In turn, the Ambassador of Kazakhstan Mr. Madi Atamkulov noted the uniqueness of the Congress as a dialogue interfaith platform. He stressed that Serbia experienced difficult times in the recent past, and knows well the price of peace and harmony. Therefore, the experience of the spiritual leaders of this country can be constructively combined with the activities of the Congress in Nur-Sultan.

Mr. Vladimir Roganovich, a Director of the Department for Cooperation with Churches and Religious Communities of the Ministry of Justice of Serbia, noted that Serbia is committed to the idea of interreligious dialogue at the international, regional and domestic levels and detecting prerequisites for improving cooperation between countries and peoples.

The representative of the Secretariat of the Patriarch of Serbia, the priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Dr. Alexandar Prashchevich, outlined his vision of the fundamental basis of spiritual leadership for achieving interfaith dialogue, noting the role of spiritual mentors and diligence in building bridges of peace.

Head (reis-ul-ulema) of the Islamic Community of Serbia Mr. Sead efendi Nasufovich touched upon the topic of personal responsibility of believers for the preservation of peace. In particular, he noted that faith and peace are directly dependent. In his opinion, every believer has a personal responsibility for maintaining harmony, while politicians have a public responsibility.

The President of the Association of Jewish Communities of Serbia, Mr. Robert Sabadosh, put forward an approach to overcome the challenges of extremism acting under the guise of religion: if you do not understand the religions of others, you do not understand your own, stressing that no religion is associated with terrorism and violence.

The Director General of the Institute for Islamic Studies of the International Islamic University of Islamabad, Mr. Muhammad Zia Ul-Haq, proposed an approach that religion should be considered not as a problem, but as a solution. He stressed that those, who under the guise of religion, create problems, have their own personal motive, unrelated to true religious messages.

International observer Mr. Borislav Korkodelovich drew attention to the fact that in the time of difficult  international atmosphere, such authoritative religious leaders as the Pope and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Congress. According to the expert's opinion, it is logical that Kazakhstan implements such a global event in the field of spiritual diplomacy.

The head of the Serbian Center for Eurasian Studies at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, Mr. Dusan Prorokovich, stressed that interfaith dialogue and joint initiatives of religious leaders are in demand today from the point of view of preserving and protecting traditional moral and spiritual values.

Expert Mr. Radmilo Koshutich noted in his speech that the former Yugoslavia is often cited as an example of a textbook repetition of religious conflicts at the end of the 20th century. In his opinion, if wars depended on religions, they would never have happened, since all religions are, as a rule, religions of peace.

The participants of the round table expressed support for the initiatives of the Congress and wished Kazakhstan to hold it successfully.