Tony Blair Launches Two Major Programmes in Kosovo
18 Jun 2012
Rt Hon. Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation today launched two major new programmes as part of his Faith Foundation's work.
He celebrated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Kosovo and his Foundation which will implement the Foundation's global schools programme Face to Faith in Kosovan schools and be incorporated into the development of the national curriculum. The programme will provide a transformative experience for Kosovan students to be affiliated globally, without overlooking their national aspirations, and help Kosovan students and teachers to develop deeper dialogue and negotiation skills.
Tony Blair also inaugurated the partnership between the his Foundation's global network of leading universities, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative (FGI) and two of Kosovo's prominent universities, the University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo. The partnership will help current policy makers and future leaders understand the role religion plays in areas where there are, or have been, both political and religious tensions. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities at an ever faster pace - and it is crucial to understand it.
Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation said:
Kosovo is a country with challenges but it is going places. You are open to the future and open to new ideas. It is an honour and privilege to be here today. It means a lot to me for my Foundation to have this partnership with the American University of Kosovo and the University of Pristina. But it means more to me on a personal level; I saw first-hand what happened here and I did what I could with others to make things better. What this country has to learn is significant but what others can learn from you is more significant. I believe there is a way to have intense pride in your nation whilst at the same time having an open mind to the rest of the world.
In this era of globalisation, societies are changing, Europe is changing. Don't be frightened of change instead see it as an opportunity. This coming together of different religions and cultures can enrich a country and be a source of strength. But the forces it can also lead to conflict and fear which we have witnessed in the past. If people have problems in dialogue then we need to learn how to resolve this. This is what my Faith Foundation's universities network, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative aims to achieve in this region: examine the role of faith in more depth. In Kosovo, and the wider region, the impact of the globalisation is affecting the country and its faith communities in transformative ways– and it is vital to understand and hear those perspectives. The University of Pristina and the American University of Kosovo will provide those valuable insights.
Most of the conflicts in the world today have a religious dimension. The purpose of interfaith is not to diminish specific faiths but to gain understanding. The more you understand someone the more likely you are to live in harmony with them. People of a faith need to take responsibility for religion; preventing it from being misused as a weapon of destruction. Harmony between faiths works better than conflict.
The Kosovan Government's commitment to incorporate our schools' programme Face to Faith in the development of the national curriculum, shows how seriously they take the advancement of the next generation – and I am excited about its future."