The role of religion in Western Balkans Societies

Conference report (Tirana, 11-12 June 2019)


The conference brought together religious leaders, decision-makers, academics, as well as the non-governmental sector actors, and served as a platform for a constructive dialogue on the role of religion in plural societies of the Western Balkans.

This meeting was an opportunity for some of the key actors in this field to exchange views and experiences on key challenges, as well as unused potential, when it comes to the positive contribution of religion to democratic processes in this region. The three conference sessions provided a framework for discussion on a range of issues related to the relationship between religious communities and the state, as well as their role and responsibility in improving the overall situation in the societies of the Western Balkans, especially in the context of coexistence and tolerance, and strengthening efforts and results in the area of reconciliation.

It was emphasized, among other things, that religion is relatively influential in most of the societies of the Western Balkans, but that a more significant and more active role of religious leaders in terms of full contribution to the development of positive social values and practices in the current circumstances has still not materialized. Regional cooperation and peacebuilding were identified as areas where religious communities can do much more, especially in cooperation with civil society and youth. Finally, the participants have expressed the need for a more intensive cooperation of all actors in the context of combating the instances of abuse of religion for political purposes, harmful foreign influence, and violent extremism and radicalism.

A report in the languages of BiH is available HERE.

This regional conference was organized within the project: Exploring the rule of Religion in WB Societies - RiS by the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) from Albania, the Belgrade Open School from Serbia, the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSHS) from the Republic of North Macedonia, and Analitika - Center for Social Research from Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.