The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, underscored today that equality and non-discrimination were fundamental principles on which the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe was founded. He urged the participating States to use the OSCE's institutions and mechanisms to further the promotion and protection of human rights.
Concerning the recent online release of the film Fitna, the Minister said that he fully supported the line taken by the Dutch Government in rejecting the interpretation of the film, which equates Islam with violence. "I encourage the OSCE participating States to follow the practice of the Dutch Government and Dutch society in handling this issue," he said.
Minister Stubb emphasized that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right. However, he noted that this freedom should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions. He also underlined the importance of inter-cultural dialogue as well as the role of non-governmental organizations in the promotion of tolerance.
"The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Representative on Freedom of the Media and the three Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office are doing valuable work in supporting the OSCE participating States in combating all forms of intolerance and discrimination. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly also provides an important link to the national parliaments of OSCE participating States in the promotion of tolerance," said Stubb.
He said he was concerned about the rise in discriminatory acts and expressions of intolerance throughout the OSCE region in recent years. "I pledge to strengthen OSCE action and international co-operation to promote tolerance. The upcoming OSCE meetings on tolerance-related issues in Vienna in May and in Helsinki in June should be fully utilized," said Stubb.