Casa Árabe, Madrid, 11-12 July 2016. On 11-12 July 2016 a meeting of institutional focal points on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue was held, with the participation of representatives of the major institutions contributing to Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue in the region, including the European Union/European External Action Service, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF), the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the UfM Secretariat.
The focal points representing each institution conducted a mapping exercise of existing tools and actions in this field, with the aim to identify areas of collaboration, establish coordination mechanisms and set out a roadmap towards a Euro-Mediterranean intercultural and interreligious dialogue regional agenda.
Participants agreed to coordinate actions in support of the most relevant regional gathering in this field, the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Forum 2016, which will take place in Valletta, Malta, on 24 and 25 October 2016. The Forum will bring together civil society organisations, youth associations, regional institutions, media bodies, donor agencies and foundations to exchange practices, to promote partnerships and to advocate for policy and operational measures for a new horizon of people-to-people cooperation around the Mediterranean, based on a set of common values and putting intercultural dialogue as the central tool for this cooperation and as a response to the main regional socio-cultural challenges.
This meeting of focal points comes as a follow-up to the 22 July 2015 high-level meeting held at the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, at the Union for the Mediterranean headquarters in Barcelona, where participating institutions dealing with intercultural and interfaith dialogue agreed to strengthen their synergies and complementarities and take joint action to reach a wider and more significant impact in the Mediterranean.
Given the magnitude of challenges facing the region, it is essential that all efforts be made to bridge any potential cultural divide, to fight against extremism, racism and all forms of exclusion and to build upon a common heritage and aspirations. Intercultural and interfaith dialogue in the Mediterranean is an important underlying dimension of all regional cooperation activities in the framework of the UfM. It also requires specific attention and approach for which the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) is the focal institution.