March 17, 2014

AMMAN, JORDAN – A Franciscan priest who led reconciliation efforts in the midst of violent, sectarian conflict in his native Bosnia-Herzegovina urged Syrian activists to work harder to end the civil war ripping apart their country.

Saying they hold untapped power, Father Ivo Markovic told about 30 Syrians in a workshop Feb. 24 to learn negotiation techniques, use peacebuilding activities among the warring factions and hone their case to present it more effectively to the global audience.

"We were in a very similar situation in Bosnia," Markovic said of the armed conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s.

"We felt extremely powerless at times, but in such situations, it is important for believers, those with faith, to do something and not allow depression to take over," he said.

More than 100,000 people have been killed, more than two million have fled the country and another 4.5 million are internally displaced during the three-year Syrian conflict.

Markovic said the use of nonviolent methods could change the Syrian crisis and later lead to Assad's removal from power.

"Nonviolence is stronger than force or actions of war," he said.