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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > June 2005 > Speech by Jean Asselborn, current president of the Council of the European Union, at the OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance - Cordoba, 8 and 9 June 2005
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Speech by Jean Asselborn, current president of the Council of the European Union, at the OSCE Conference on Anti-Semitism and Other Forms of Intolerance - Cordoba, 8 and 9 June 2005

Date of Speech : 08-06-2005

Place : Cordoba, Spain

Speaker : Jean Asselborn

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Right Honourable President of the Government,

On behalf of the European Union, I have the honour of offering Spain our thanks for organising this important conference in Cordoba, a town which for a thousand years has symbolised the sometimes difficult, but always fertile, coexistence between three great cultures; cultures which have left their mark on the civilisation of our continent but also that of our Mediterranean neighbours and partners with whom we have strong ties.

As the inheritor of long historical and cultural traditions, the European Union continues to be enriched by the intermingling of the people and nations within it. It is a constantly evolving structure, built on a common desire to live together respecting our differences and accepting each person such as they are.

Mr President,

The European Union stands firm in its resolution to fight all forms of intolerance, racial discrimination, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. The European Union constantly reiterates and stresses this policy. It inspires the drawing-up of our internal regulations and it permeates the guidelines for our common foreign and security policy. Prohibition of discrimination figures among the fundamental principles that are reaffirmed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was incorporated into the draft Constitution of the European Union adopted by the European Council in June 2004. Member States have passed national laws to fight discrimination and encourage tolerance, basing them upon Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union and EU directives. The European Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia encourages the collection of reliable statistics, warns of problems and works to spread good practice.

The European Union is keen to make its fight against all forms of intolerance more effective by devising programmes that cover the problem in its entirety and should rapidly lead to concrete measures. The adoption in November 2004 of the Hague Programme, which is intended to foster the integration of nationals from countries lying outside the European Union, is evidence of this.

Mr President,

The European Union has given its full support to the OSCE’s campaign against anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. In 2004, three OSCE conferences on this subject took place in European Union countries. Now it is your country which, after Germany, France and Belgium, has taken the initiative and is holding a conference which is both ambitious and necessary.

The Cordoba Conference marks an important staging point in the OSCE’s comprehensive work to prevent all forms of intolerance.

Faced with the painful fact that anti-Semitism is once again rearing its head, we are anxious to make it clear that we are determined to mobilise governments and civil society in a relentless fight against this abomination, the memory of which is still as painful as ever today, 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

Our common desire to encourage vigorous solutions in countering these unacceptable phenomena will lead us to tackle all other forms of intolerance as well. We are also anxious to make clear our willingness to fight discrimination against Muslims, Christians, and members of other religions and beliefs as well as discrimination on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, age and disability, as stated in Article 13 of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Furthermore, we wish to reiterate our commitment to fully implementing our action plan to improve the situation of Roma and Sintis, adopted in 2003 in Maastricht by our Ministers.

Mr President,

The OSCE has given itself instruments with which it can render our common fight against all forms of intolerance more visible and efficient. This is a topic of constant interest within the OSCE. The European Union intends working actively with the three personal representatives of the current President in the OSCE’s comprehensive fight to prevent discrimination and encourage tolerance. The creation of a ‘Tolerance and Non-Discrimination’ Unit at the ODIHR has quite considerably strengthened the Organisation’s operational capacity to provide backing for participating countries’ efforts and support civil society’s initiatives in this field. The ODIHR has formed links with other structures, such as the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and our own European Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia, the EUMC, meaning that systematic cooperation, something which is needed more than ever, can be envisaged.

Mr President,

The decisions that were adopted at the conferences and the meeting which took place in 2004, incite us to commit ourselves presently to their implementation. This implementation should also take into account the problems regarding the integration of migrant workers who are legally resident, which the Slovenian Presidency rightly wished to make one of the OSCE’s priorities in 2005.

I trust that the debates at this conference will be fruitful for all those taking part. The European Union intends setting out its hopes and expectations at the end of our work here.

This page was last modified on : 14-06-2005

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