On 17 November 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part online in the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief held by the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance.
The Latvian Foreign Minister joined the ministerial declaration reflecting a shared perspective on the promotion of religious freedom and highlighting the need to fight against the abuse of religious doctrine. Latvia supports the right to gender equality and non-discrimination in the context of religious freedom, Edgars Rinkēvičs said.
The Minister noted that since its inauguration, over the period of less than a year, the Alliance has proved itself to be an important platform for the promotion of freedom of religion all over the world. The Alliance has responded rapidly to violations of religious freedom and has been standing up against discrimination and persecution of persons based on religion. For instance, in response to violations of religious freedom in Belarus, the Alliance supported a statement prepared by Latvia calling on Belarusian authorities to grant re-entry into Belarus to Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mogilev and to hold responsible those who violate the right to religious freedom.
Religious freedom must be facilitated and protected at the national and international level alike, the Minister underlined.
Edgars Rinkēvičs recalled that in order to promote cooperation between public authorities and religious organisations, an advisory institution chaired by the Prime Minister – the Spiritual Affairs Council – has been established. The Government of Latvia also supports sacral and religious heritage by allocating funds to its protection and conservation, and will continue to do so.
We still have much ground to cover to achieve our goal – full and unconditional respect for freedom of religion across the globe. The Alliance’s efforts to safeguard freedom of religion or belief and to oppose any attempts to weaken it sets an example for the international community, said the Minister in his concluding remarks.
The International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance was established on 5 February 2020 in Washington, D.C.
The aim of the Ministerial is to bring together the foreign ministers of member countries to discuss the priorities of the religious freedom policy and proposals for action for the next 6 to 12 months.
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