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Council of Europe: meeting on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. Speeches by Fontanieu, Beccegato and Fr. Baggio

“There is a need to build a common project, by putting aside one’s affiliations to achieve a broader political base”. Jean Fontanieu, secretary general of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in France, put forward this suggestion during the final debate of the tenth meeting of the Council of Europe on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue that is taking place in Strasbourg. His proposal was echoed by several representatives attending the meeting who called for the creation of a “permanent platform, a permanent forum, bringing together faith-based organisations engaged in the reception and integration of migrants and refugees”, which should be in constant communication with the Council of Europe so that the exchange of views may continue in the future. Many suggestions came from the meeting, such as a call to increase political pressure against the use of “administrative detention as a deterrent” for migrants, which seems to have become common practice. Another suggestion, put forward by Paolo Beccegato (in charge of international relations at Caritas Italiana), is that any work and policy proposals should be based on “independent research and studies” which guarantee figures and data capable of providing an authoritative answer to that “populism” which leads to religious associations working with migrants “being no longer perceived as people of solidarity” because of a difficult context marked by fragile social cohesion. The representative of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Father Fabio Baggio, re-launched, as his contribution to the European debate, the “Twenty Action Points” grounded on the “best practices” in the run-up to the drafting of the “global compact” for safe, orderly and regular migration, and of the global compact on refugees, underway at the United Nations.

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