( OSCE ) - Intolerance and discrimination could threaten global security, and the OSCE's participating States need to strengthen efforts to avert this threat, the Organization's Chairman-in-Office, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, told a high-level meeting today.
"This conference shows the OSCE's unwavering commitment to promote freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief," Minister Moratinos said, addressing participants of the two-day conference.
More than 600 participants will discuss what steps the Organization and its 56 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation could take to promote tolerance and reduce discrimination. They will also review progress made since previous OSCE meetings focused on tolerance.
The Chairman called on participants to handle intolerance and discrimination with a common approach, using legislation and its implementation, data compilation, education, intercultural and interreligous dialogue, and communication.
Speaking about freedom of the media, Moratinos said journalists had an important role to play by not spreading violent language, hate speech, provocations and rumours.
"The OSCE is firm, it does not hesitate in condemning vigorously aggression imposed by anti-Semitism speeches and by those who obscurely deny the Holocaust," he said.
The Chairman-in-Office raised the "Alliance of Civilizations," an initiative of the United Nations and co-sponsored by Spain and Turkey.
"The 'Alliance of Civilizations' is an initiative intended to heal the wounds of sharing a globalize society, which is diverse and independent, and it is path for reaching a global contract for the cultures of the world," he said.
Romanian President Traian Basescu warned against considering acts of hatred "isolated incidents".
"If we are complacent, we might wake all the demons that have troubled Europe's life: racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism can spread as fire each time the vigilance of our governments and civil society loses intensity," he said at the opening ceremony.
Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu noted "with concern" the increase in racist violence in Europe" despite a firm commitment not to accept such acts.
"We have to acknowledge that manifestations of discrimination, racism, xenophobia and intolerance remain active at some levels of our societies, despite the fact that political commitment to fight against them stands unchanged," he said.
Intolerance must be battled with dialogue, education, political leadership and co-operation, he added.