Saturday, January 28, 2012

OSCE at the Vatican : Religious freedom a factor for stability

“People in general have the idea of the OSCE’s role in the past but not about our role today and in the future”, says President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, Petros Efthymiou. 

On Monday last he led a delegation to meetings at the Vatican with Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, and President of the Council for Inter-religious dialogue Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran.

“We don’t have security in Europe”, he adds. “We have the Euro-Atlantic dimension of security with NATO, we have the European Union, but we don’t have the Eurasian dimension of security. We have a void that stretches from Vienna to Kazakhstan. The OSCE is the only instrument that we have to work together, the United States and Russia, Western Europe and Eastern Europe”.

Security, cooperation and stability are not guaranteed by the absence of arms alone, notes Efthymiou. 

More importantly through ensuring the fundamental human rights of the populations in the countries it encompasses (56 in total). 

For that very reason, one of the biggest tasks the OSCE carries out is sending out election monitoring missions, particularly to countries struggling to establish democracy.

The Holy See has been a full member of the Organisation since its establishment in 1975. 

December last, Archbishop Mamberti addressed the OSCE Ministerial Council held in Vilnus, Lithuania, where he encouraged the OSCE’s attempts to support religious freedom and praised the organisation’s concern to safeguard religious freedom in the participating states.

Special attention was put on education, religion, belief, religious symbols and expression in view of emerging restrictive legislation in some EU countries.

In filling the Eurasian void and in its battle against all forms of discrimination, the President Efthymiou says the Holy See is a key partner in “generating values and principles within the OSCE”.

“We are fully harmonised with the Holy See’s position on these issues” he concludes “especially when there are attempts to use religions for political purposes”.