Sunday, 9 May 2021
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Religious diplomacy

Greece maintains strong historic ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other Greek-Orthodox Patriarchates in Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. It maintains ties with the Orthodox Patriarchates as well as Autocephalous Churches and supports their initiatives on issues related to the interreligious and intercultural dialogue, the protection of religious freedom, the protection of the environment and the religious heritage. It also stands by the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai, the oldest Christian monastery, having unique spiritual and cultural treasures, a sacred place revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs follows the activities of the World Council of Churches, the relations between the Orthodox Churches, as well as the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christian Churches. In the context of religious diplomacy, Greece supports and promotes international initiatives and interfaith contacts of Christian, Muslim and Jewish institutions.

The dialogue between the Orthodox Church and other Christian Churches and confessions, in addition to its importance for the Church itself, has led to the promotion of human values and the protection of the environment.  This very dialogue was part of the agenda of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church that took place between 16 to 27 June 2016 at the Orthodox Academy of Crete. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped with the preparations of the event by establishing a Special Committee to coordinate the public sector involved therein.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs attaches particular importance to the interreligious dialogue, which promotes respect for the rights of religious communities, enhances understanding between religions and holds, alone or as an essential aspect of intercultural dialogue, an important position in international relations. It is an issue of high priority in the agenda of international organizations. In this context, Greece is promoting the respective activities of the Greek Orthodox Churches.

On 28th February and 1st March 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a two day conference on religious and ecclesiastical diplomacy under the title: ‘’Religious and Ecclesiastical diplomacy in the 21st century’’. Participants from Orthodox churches, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Armenians, Coptic Christians, Assyrians and Syrian orthodox Christians, sought ways of potential cooperation between them.

Greece follows the developments and expresses its strong interest for the protection of the local Christian communities, the Christian shrines and Monuments in the Middle East, where the historic Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai are based. Within this context, two International Conferences on the religious and cultural pluralism and peaceful coexistence in the Middle East were organized in Athens in October 2015 and 2017.

Mount Athos is the most important monastic centre, one of the holiest shrines of the Orthodox world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Religious diplomacy tries to promote Mount Athos as a major cultural heritage centre and enhance the relations of the Holy Community with the Greek State. In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs supervises Athos, through the Civil Governor of Mount Athos, in accordance with the provisions of Article 105 of the Constitution.

The Ministry of Foreign Affaires is in close cooperation with the Church of Greece on issues related to international activities, religious diplomacy and the promotion of religious tourism in Greece.