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25th Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples, Rimini, Italy, August 2004
Friday, 15 October 2004 00:00

Convocation about Consolidating Peace in Sudan

On the occasion of the 25th “Meeting of Friendship Among Peoples,” a week-long festival held in Rimini, Italy, which attracts an audience of more than 700,000 people, AVSI sponsored a series of forums which convened important leaders to discuss the pressing issues of peace in today’s world.


On August 26th, AVSI hosted a presentation and round table discussion at which a delegation from the Council for International People’s Friendship of the Government of Sudan, sat alongside a delegation of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM). The two representatives, Ahmed Abd Al-Rahman Mohamed of the Sudanese government and Samson L. Kwaje of the SPLM, addressed an audience of over 800 people about the encouraging steps and agreements of the peace process which seeks an end to the civil war that has ravaged the southern part of Sudan for more than two decades. Both speakers reaffirmed their determination to follow through with the negotiations and their commitment to opening a new page in the history of Sudan. Hopeful in their own right, these testimonies also send a positive message to the international community about the possibility of solving the crisis in Darfur. As the finalization of peace talks are presently underway, the call for peace remains delicate but of utmost urgency.


Another speaker on the panel was Monsignor John Baptist Odama, Archbishop

of Gulu, who spoke on behalf of the people of northern Uganda, affected by an 18 year long conflict. His presence and testimony gave witness to the fact that many African crises do not respect borders but impact the lives of people in entire regions. The violence in Sudan is not unrelated to violence throughout the Great Lakes region more broadly, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and beyond. The prospect for peace in Sudan, therefore, is of utmost importance not only for the Sudanese but for their neighbors as well.


Arturo Alberti, President of AVSI, introduced the speakers and provided his comments on AVSI’s more than twenty-year presence working alongside the people in Uganda and more recently in the southern regions of Sudan and consequently very aware of the urgency of peace and stability for the future of these people.


Foreign Ministers of Palestine and Israel Discuss Peace in the Region

On the afternoon of the same day as the forum on Sudan, and in an even more crowded auditorium, AVSI sponsored a debate among the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, Silvan Shalom, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority, Nabil Shat, with the participation of Alberto Piatti, AVSI General Director.


In his opening remarks, Piatti stressed that AVSI and the Meeting for Friendship among Peoples were hosting this encounter among “enemies” in accordance with the common mission, and bolstered by practice and experience, which holds that dialogue, friendship and forgiveness are necessary components of understanding and peace.


The climate of debate was tense and sharp, but at the same time honest. The Israeli Minister recalled the looming danger of anti-Semitism and the violence of terrorism, but he also spoke about Israeli willingness to resume the process set forth as the road map to peace, and urged the Palestinians to assume their responsibility in the process as well.


Minister Shat of Palestine stressed the desperate and segregated conditions in which Palestinians are forced to live, and declared his party’s commitment to return to the negotiating table and to progress toward democratic rule in the region.


The Italian Minister appreciated the good will demonstrated by the two parties for having come together for the first time since December 2003, even if the setting was informal, it was no less important for the hope which it allowed to rise again.