By signing this Memorandum, religious communities have committed themselves to getting involved in the project Rijeka – European Capital of Culture 2020 with the aim of further strengthening interreligious dialogue within the city of Rijeka and the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, following the establishment of the Interreligious Council of Rijeka 2020 at the initiative of monsignor Matija Matičić, the rector of the Cathedral of St Vitus.
The signing was held at the Salon of the City of Rijeka, where the Memorandum was signed by Vojko Obersnel, the mayor of Rijeka, Emina Višnić , director of the company Rijeka 2020 d.o.o. and by representatives of the city’s largest religious communities: monsignor dr. Ivan Devčić, archbishop and metropolitan bishop, on behalf of the Rijeka Archdiocese, Protojerej-Stavrofot Mićo Kostić, pastor of Rijeka, on behalf of the Orthodox Church, effendi Hajrudin Mujkanović, head imam of Rijeka, on behalf of the Majlis of the Islamic Community of Rijeka, Ranko Špigl on behalf of the Jewish Community of Rijeka as president, and pastor Giorgio Grlj on behalf of the Baptist Church of Rijeka.
The event was also attended by monsignor Matija Matičić, the rector of the Cathedral of St Vitus, Ivan Šarar, head of the Department of Culture of the City of Rijeka and Irena Kregar Šegota, director of the Sector for Development and Strategic Partnership of the company Rijeka 2020 d.o.o.
In line with Rijeka’s tradition of acknowledging and accepting diversity and the successful cooperation between its religious communities, as well as with the cooperation and mutual respect that exists between religious communities and all of the citizens of Rijeka regardless of their religious affiliation, and with the desire to continue developing this relationship, the representatives of the largest religious communities involved themselves in the Rijeka ECOC 2020 by signing this Memorandum.
In this manner, the most prominent religious communities in Rijeka will actively collaborate with the City of Rijeka and the company Rijeka 2020 d.o.o with the purpose of implementing activities in the following areas:
- Jointly promoting the European Capital of Culture project as a platform for presenting cultural connections in the community, as well as a platform for the discussion of issues related to cultural diversity;
- Promoting the rich culture and heritage of Rijeka’s religious communities as a contribution to European cultural diversity and heritage through the Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 project;
- Exploring and proposing social models and policies for curbing prejudice and discrimination towards religious communities through an intercultural approach, as well as engaging with religious communities in positive forms of action that aim to build trust and cohesion within the city as a whole:
- Gathering theoretical knowledge and practical experience in creatively reacting to prejudices and discrimination, particularly when it comes to religious communities, and
- Actively participating in the work of the Intercultural Cities network of the Council of Europe, in the sense of promoting interreligious dialogue and intercultural dialogue in society in general.
Mayor Obersnel expressed his pride in the event and added that cooperation between religious communities and representatives of the local self-government was a commonplace thing in our city. He also pointed out that it had not been possible to gather representatives of every single religious community in the city, and that therefore efforts had to be limited to the largest among them. Finally, he reminded that the City’s doors were always open to everybody, and that those that were not present at the event could also join the work of the Council.
Emina Višnić, director of the company Rijeka 2020 d.o.o., pointed out that Rijeka was also involved in the network of Intercultural Cities of the Council of Europe as part of the ECOC project and joint efforts to support the intercultural cities as places where diversity is the norm, and which strive to create educational, social, cultural, employment, residential and other policies and public spaces that allow people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to exchange their views, intermingle and interact in a productive and creative manner.