Russian Сhurch envoy lambastes UN conference on racism

Prague, May 15, Interfax – April’s UN conference on racism was “an outrageous instance of avoidance of dialogue by leading political forces,” the Russian Orthodox Church envoy to the Council of Europe said.

“The problem is that it happens right, left and center that international institutions that have the duty of organizing intercultural dialogues and achieving results are not capable of this,” Hegumen Filaret (Bulekov) told the Dialogue of Civilizations forum in Prague.

Fr. Filaret attacked the states that boycotted the Geneva conference because, he said, they feared possible “anti-Israeli statements” by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was present at the forum.

Australia, the Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Canada, the United States, and the Czech Republic, boycotted the Geneva conference and delegations from more than 30 countries left the forum while Ahmadinejad was speaking.

“Yes, the Iranian president did use the conference, as the floor for the statement of extremist and insulting positions, as, for example, was pointed out by a delegate of the Vatican, whose delegation did not, nevertheless, leave the forum. But can it be considered to have been an appropriate reaction to leave [the conference] if one bears in mind the imperative nature of intercultural dialogue?” Fr. Filaret said

The priest said the Geneva conference had shown the “zero professional proficiency” of some politicians, whom he accused of putting opportunist political considerations and their personal image before problems of racism and cultural strife.