The following speeches and addresses were delivered from speakers in the 1st Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom which was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium in November 2010.

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Greetings from Odysseus F. Sassayiannis

President Of The Brotherhood Of Pammakaristos
Archons Of The Ecumenical Patriarchate In Europe

GREETINGS / CONRAD BRUSSELS HOTEL
NOVEMBER 15, 2010

Eminences, Excellences, Reverend Fathers, Distinguished Speakers and Participants, Honorable Guests,

Religious freedom is a very complex and ‘hot' issue in our multicultural societies. This modern human right claims from state and religions more than tolerance towards groups and persons with different religious convictions. Tolerance is easier to practise than the demands of religious freedom. It makes pragmatic concessions to the ‘others' without granting them their rights. Tolerance often expresses an arrogance, which humiliates.

The right of religious freedom, as basic element of human rights, is more then tolerance. Any discrimination of people due to their religion, violates fundamental rights. Religious freedom doesn't contradict the truth of religious conviction. It opens a peaceful way of living faith in our pluralistic world. Religious freedom doesn't mean relativism or syncretism. It rather promotes relation and synergism. It underlines and recognizes the importance of religious faith for human existence and coexistence.

Consequently, the protection of the rights of religious minorities in Turkey is crucial not only for these groups, but also for modern Turkey itself, claiming its full membership in the European Union. In the same way, religious freedom is the distinctive mark of every contemporary society as an open and democratic society, based on the principles of human rights. Human rights are indivisible!

On behalf of the Order of the Pammakaristos Brotherhood of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Europe I wish to the participants in this international Conference, fruitful deliberations and a creative dialogue on the challenging issue of the human right of religious freedom and its effective protection as " Turkey's Bridge to the European Union".

Odysseus F. Sassayiannis
President