The meeting of the I.A.O International Secretariat and the joint meeting of the I.A.O International Secretariat and Committee Chairpersons was held at its seat in Athens on March 19. Members of the following Parliaments participated in the meeting: Sergei Popov, President of the I.A.O. General Assembly (Russian Federation), Aristotelis A. Pavlidis, Acting Secretary General to the I.A.O. (Greece), Lefteris Christoforou, member of the I.A.O. International Secretariat (Cyprus), Nicholas Kotsiras, Chairman of the I.A.O Committee on Bioethics (Australia), Theodore Ssekikubo, Chairman of the I.A.O. Committee on Social Activity (Uganda), as well as, the members of the Hellenic delegation to the I.A.O.: Theocharis Tsiokas, Adam Regouzas, Simeon Kedikoglou and Markos Bolaris.
In the framework of the I.A.O. International Secretariat meeting, the members had the opportunity to meet with the President of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Dimitrios Sioufas and His Beatitude Ieronymos II, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece.
During the morning I.A.O. International Secretariat meeting, the following subjects were extensively discussed:
1. Organizational issues and implementation of the Rules of Procedure.
2. I.A.O. Financial issues.
3. Preparation of the 15th I.A.O. General Assembly, which was decided to be held in the island of Rhodes, Greece, 25 – 29 June 2008. The central subject of the Assembly will be: «Challenges stemming from the global value system crisis (Christian – Orthodox approach)». It was also decided to hold the elections of the members of the International Secretariat and Committees upon the opening of the General Assembly.
4. Programming of activities for 2008: The next meeting of the I.A.O. International Secretariat and Committee Chairpersons was decided to be held in Cyprus during the autumn 2008. Furthermore, the organization of visits to the new-elected Patriarchs and leaders of Autocephalous Orthodox Churches was decided. The I.A.O. will be represented by the President of the I.A.O. General Assembly, the I.A.O. Secretary General and an ad-hoc third member. Any member wishing to join the delegation will undertake their own expenses.
During the afternoon joint meeting of the I.A.O. International Secretariat and Committee Chairpersons the following issues were discussed:
1. I.A.O. representation and contacts with international organizations. (Council of Europe, PABSEC, Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), South Eastern Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP), Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth Independent States (IPA CIS) etc.)
2. Overview of the 2007 I.A.O. activities. I.A.O. Member-states contributions.
3. Outlook of the presentation of the Festschrift “Church-Ecumene-Politics” dedicated to Metropolitan Damaskinos Papandreou, presented by the former I.A.O. Treasurer Mr. Dimitrios Georgakopoulos, the I.Α.Ο. Acting Secretary General Mr. Aristotelis A. Pavlidis, and the I.A.O. Advisor Mr. Kostas Mygdalis.
4. Special reference to the situation in Kosovo, to be included in the ‘conclusions’ of the meeting:
The Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.), which promotes the Christian Orthodox traditions, hereby expresses its concern over the fact that peace in the region of Kosovo is under increasing threat. Peoples residing throughout centuries in this region are now feeling insecure. The one-sided declaration of Kosovo independence opposes the UN Security Council Resolution no.1244/01.06.1999.
We call upon the UN, The Council of Europe, the European Union and all other international organizations to act accordingly, aiming at the normalization of the situation in the region, as well as, for strengthening security and stability for all Kosovo populations, in order to prevent persecution of populations, violation of human rights and destruction of temples.
We call for respect of cultural and religious heritage of all Kosovo ethnicities, preservation of the Christian Orthodox temples and the free exercise of religious belief, as well as, for substantial efforts towards eliminating threats against the peaceful coexistence of the Kosovo populations and, above all to avert the development of hotspots threatening peace in the Balkans.
Moreover, we call upon the world community to provide the necessary humanitarian and financial aid to the Serbian Orthodox Church, with the aim of restoring destroyed Christian monuments.