The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) – 4/3/16
Monastery Products & Small Producers in the Orthodox Area : Joint Effort and Prospects
Date: Sparta, 14 – 17 April 2016
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The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) (www.eiao.org) is a political organization established in 1993 and seated in the Hellenic Parliament in Athens. This initiative emerged from the Parliaments of Russia and Greece, and currently the I.A.O. members are official Parliamentary delegations of twenty five countries, as well as five groups of deputies from other parliaments. The objective of the Organization is to develop multi-level political and cultural activity to the direction of encouraging contacts and broadening relations of trust, understanding the contemporary political phenomena and social currents and highlighting those elements of Orthodoxy that have a positive impact on mutual understanding among cultures.
These last years, I.A.O.’s interest focuses on the major financial problems caused by the vast multi-aspected crisis, the economic aspect of which has been a particular concern for large groups of the population in our countries for several years. It has been precisely this crisis and, furthermore, the spiritual life of Orthodox monastic communities, that gave rise to initiatives for production of various types of food products, spirits, garments and goods related to other sectors of life. Monastic communities, orthodox monasteries, in the context of their monastic canon, have displayed a unique activity during these years, of a high quality level, with full respect for consumers and aiming at a small controlled profit margin.
Similar efforts were made by small producers of organic and other local typical products addressed to consumers, particularly those with strong ecological consciousness. These efforts, of course, by nature, but also in terms of their limited volume, are not part of the international trade; indeed, they are often limited to local initiatives.
The I.A.O., after thorough consideration resulting from the interest shown by several member parliamentarians from various countries, has taken the initiative to better approach this matter. It has, thus, decided to organize a two-day conference, a meeting among involved entities, representatives of monasteries from the entire Orthodox world but also from the ancient Churches of the East that are dynamically involved in production, small production schemes as well as some individual producers, of products associated with the local character of areas our Organization relates with. We shall attempt, since we do have this possibility, to hear the views of those who have taken similar production initiatives around the Orthodox world, whom we more or less share common eating habits with.
Specialized entities and scientists in the field of distribution and development of such businesses will be invited to participate and make presentations, from Russia, the E.U. and other concerned countries, such as South India, where around ten million Church of St. Thomas Christians live, produce an consume.
The purpose and character of such an initiative cannot be precise at the outset, and we hope it will emerge and be shaped during the two days of the event. Neither can we foresee at the moment its future evolution as something permanent and operational. We are certainly going to follow up on the existing situation and try to foresee and organize its creative future. Undoubtedly, this meeting will bring to the forefront the problems faced by such efforts, while also identifying and displaying their potential.