Ambassador Bennett Promotes Canada’s Position on Freedom of Religion with Key International Stakeholders

September 24, 2013 - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, will travel to Poland, Hungary and Turkey from September 24 to October 8, 2013, to promote freedom of religion and pluralism around the world.

In Poland, Ambassador Bennett will participate in the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2013, organized by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Through the Religious Freedom Fund, Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom has committed $672,000 to the OSCE to promote international standards on freedom of religion and belief, focusing on recognition of religious and belief communities in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

While in Poland, Ambassador Bennett will also visit the Auschwitz Memorial and meet with officials from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

In Hungary, the Ambassador will meet with Hungarian officials to discuss religious freedom and anti-Semitism, and take part in a conference entitled Jewish Life and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe, organized by the Tom Lantos Institute.

In Turkey, Ambassador Bennett will hold discussions with leading religious and secular figures, as well as with representatives of other faith communities. He will also discuss issues concerning religious freedom in the wider region, for example Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Egypt, with Turkish officials and academics.

“I look forward to engaging government and religious leaders on issues of religious freedom in Turkey and Hungary and to deepening our relationship with the OSCE, which is emerging as a key partner,” said Ambassador Bennett.

“My visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau presents a unique opportunity to focus on the imperative of defending religious freedom through remembering the unparalleled sacrifice of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.”

The Office of Religious Freedom promotes freedom of religion or belief as a Canadian foreign policy priority. The Office is an essential vehicle for the advancement of fundamental Canadian values, including freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada
Follow us on Twitter: @DFATDCanada