Direct to content
Finnish MFA

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: EU: Euromed news

Merikasarmi, PO Box 176, 00161 Helsinki, Finland
tel: +358 9 160 05 or 578 15
Contact information | How to find the Ministry
News, 11/26/2006

Foreign Minister Tuomioja congratulated Father Paolo for reinventing Muslim-Christian coexistence

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja met at the Anna Lindh Foundations's award ceremony in Tampere.Father Paolo Dall’Oglio and the Monastery of St Moses the Abyssinian received the first-ever Euro-Mediterranean award for cultural dialogue on Sunday, 26 November, in Tampere where the heads of national networks of the Anna Lindh Foundation convened for their annual meeting. The Anna Lindh Foundation is an umbrella organisation for NGOs within the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation between the EU and several Mediterranean partners.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja congratulated Father Paolo Dall’Oglio for reinventing the positive relationship that existed between the first Muslims and the Christian monks on the borders of the Arabian deserts. The Monastery hosts a Muslim-Christian community in the desert of Syria. Tuomioja, who spoke at the award ceremony, will chair the foreign ministers’ meeting of the EU and Mediterranean partners in Tampere on 27-28 November.

In his speech Tuomioja said that religion has increasingly become both a political force and a source of identity, but that he himself has always stressed that it is our challenge to fight intolerance and fanaticism.

In Europe, a new generation of European Muslims has emerged. “European Muslims should be Muslim instead of forever remaining North African, Pakistani or Turkish Muslims. Active citizenship and the development of a European Islamic culture need to be encouraged”, said Tuomioja.

“European governments need to create conditions for the growth of Muslim thinking which would reflect the realities of European democratic and egalitarian societies”, he said. European governments should focus on creating conditions for Muslims to enable them to represent their own interests democratically within civil society. “In other words, European Muslims should be empowered and anchored in the European reality”.

There are no simple solutions to complex social phenomena, admitted Tuomioja, but there are ways of improving mutual understanding and coexistence. One such dialogue is the Helsinki Process, facilitated by the governments of Finland and Tanzania, which seeks to address global challenges through multi-stakeholder dialogue.

Speech by Minister Tuomioja at the Heads of National Networks Meeting of the Anna Lindh Foundation


Print this pageEmail this page
This document

Updated 11/26/2006

Print this pageEmail this page
© Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland 2006 | About this site | Web Communications Unit