NEW YORK – The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, will hold an International Religious Freedom Conference entitled “Religious Freedom: Turkey's Bridge to the European Union,” on November 16-17, 2010 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
The two-day conference will bring together scholars, religious freedom and human rights advocates, journalists, diplomats, parliamentarians, religious leaders, representatives of the Government of Turkey, lawyers and members of minority communities that will focus on religious freedom. Speakers will analyze issues of religious freedom confronting the religious minorities in Turkey and propose answers.
“Religious freedom constitutes a most valuable gift from God, since it affects directly and substantively our relationship with Him. It is the open way of communication with our Creator. Therefore, a conference dedicated to religious freedom becomes a bridge between humanity and God and by extension a bridge connecting people, nations, cultures and religions,” said Archbishop Demetrios talking about the upcoming conference.
The conference is sponsored by the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America and the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe, in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union.
Archbishop Demetrios of America will offer an introductory address at the opening dinner at the Conrad Brussels Hotel, the evening of Monday Nov. 15. The Conference will be held in the European Parliament and will begin Tuesday, November 16. Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew will welcome the participants along with Rodi Kratsa Tsagaropoulou, vice-president of the European Parliament. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union will read the Patriarchal Exhortation, and Archbishop Demetrios will follow him with the keynote address.
Additionally, the list of the distinguished speakers includes: Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Armenian Church, Archbishop of the Armenians in Turkey – Mustafa Akyol, Journalist and Political Commentator – Egemen Bagis, Turkish Government, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator – Orhan Kemal Cengiz, Lawyer, Human Rights Defender, and News Paper Columnist – Cole Durham, BYU Law School, Susan Young Gates University Professor of Law and Director, International Center for Law and Religious Studies, J. Reuben Clark Law School – Steven Ealy, Senior Fellow, Liberty Fund – Dilek Kurban, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, Program Officer Democratization Program, Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation – Mario Mauro, Member of the European Parliament, Italy – Johny Messo, Syriac Universal Alliance, President – Claudio Monge, DoSt-I (Dominican Study- Institute) – Muna B. Ndulo, Professor of Law, Cornell Law School, Director of Cornell's Institute for African Development, Human Rights Advocate and Humanitarian – Otmar Oehring, Director, Human Rights Office, Missio Society – Emre Oktem, Professor, Galatasaray University – Pietr Omtzigt, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe – Jaime Mayor Oreja, Member of the European Parliament, Spain – Elizabeth Prodromou, Vice Chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom – Patrick Gregor Puppinck, Director, European Center of Law of Justice – George Rockas, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – Bican Sahin, Assistant Professor, Hacettepe University, and President of Association of Liberal Thinking – Odysseus F. Sassayiannis, Administrateur, EFG Bank (Monaco) – Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President, Appeal of Conscience Foundation – Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice, Washington, D.C. and to the European Center for Law and Justice, Strasbourg, France – James J. Silk, Lawyer, Human Rights Defender – Renate Sommer, Member of the European Parliament, Germany – Konrad Szymanski, Member of the European Parliament, Poland – Rodi Kratsa Tsagaropoulou, Vice President of the European Parliament – Riza Turmen, Former Judge, European Court of Human Rights – Lakis Vingas, Representative of the Minority Foundations at the General Directorate of Foundations Assembly – Angela Wu, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, International Law Director, Washington, D.C. and – Mine Yildirim, Researcher at the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University.