INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
21st MINISTERIAL COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN
ADDRESS GIVEN BY
ARCHBISHOP DOMINIQUE MAMBERTI,
SECRETARY FOR THE HOLY SEE'S RELATIONS WITH STATES
Thursday, 4 December 2014
The Delegation of the Holy See wishes to thank His Excellency
Mr Didier Burkhalter, President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Swiss
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, as well as the 2014 Swiss Chairmanship of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for their
generous hospitality here in the historical city of Basel.
The Ministerial Council meets this year in the context of the
disturbing events that undermine security in the OSCE area. The politico-military
tools of the Organization designed to defuse conflicts and restore a climate of
trust and confidence between the participating States have been tested in an
unparalleled manner. Unfortunately, the evidence has shown that even the best
tools are ineffective if there is insufficient political will to implement them
in good faith.
The Holy See has been following very closely and with deep
concern the worrying developments in Ukraine. The Catholic Church and the Holy
Father Francis are close to those who suffer and are exposed to violations of
their fundamental human rights and freedoms, in particular the right to life in
dignity and without fear.
In this context, we welcome a swift reaction to the outbreak
of violence, in particular, by deploying theosceSpecial Monitoring Mission. On
the other hand, we regret that, in spite of the valuable efforts of the Forum
for Security and Co-operation, the non-implementation of other valuable tools
that our Organization possesses, such as the Vienna Document or the Code of
Conduct, has prevented the emergence of the conditions necessary for the
settlement of the ongoing crisis.
Even more regretful is the loss of life, physical suffering,
violations of people’s fundamental rights, and enormous material damage that has
already affected too many Ukrainian citizens. Our prayers and thoughts of
solidarity go to all the victims and to all those who are subject to grave
violations of their right to live in peace.
Attempting to resolve disputes with the use of arms rather
than by a sincere effort to find negotiated solutions is a sad development, as
has frequently been noted by successive Popes. Pope Francis himself exclaimed in
his first Message for the World Day of Peace: “I appeal forcefully to all those
who sow violence and death by force of arms: in the person you today see simply
as an enemy to be beaten, discover rather your brother or sister, and hold back
your hand! Give up the way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue,
pardon and reconciliation, in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around
you!” (Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World
Day of Peace, 7).
Therefore, it is our strong conviction that the best way of
resolving the current situation is through dialogue and negotiation for the
benefit not only of those directly involved but also for the benefit of the
larger international community. There should be no hesitancy and lack of good
will to use all possible means to reach a peaceful solution.
This year marks some important anniversaries. It has been 100
years since the beginning of the First World War and 75 years since the
beginning of the Second World War. These anniversaries bring back memories of
unprecedented suffering raging for a total of 10 years through the world and in
particular across the OSCE region. The years of war were followed by decades of
recovery but also by post-war divisions, prolonging uncertainty and postponing
the desires of peoples and nations to live in freedom and prosperity without
fear of new tragedies.
It should be seen as our moral imperative to avoid, by all
possible means, the horrors and divisions of the past too often stirred up by
senseless and interest-driven propaganda. Instead, no effort must be spared in
building and reinforcing peace, which we all have pledged to pursue, where no
one will feel threatened and where no one’s freedom will be compromised.
In order to lay the foundations of common security for all,
the forefathers of this Organization, gathered in Helsinki in 1975, were able to
overcome seemingly irreconcilable differences for the sake of the common good.
We should, therefore, seriously reflect upon that fact and rise once again above
what separates us and look for what unites us. The common good of all citizens
of the OSCE region, in particular those whose lives are under threat or whose
rights and freedom risk being gravely compromised must become our main goal.
Peace is an indivisible good. Either it is the good of all or it the good of
none. Therefore, we should work towards it with determination.
Less than a month ago, the 25th anniversary of the fall of
the Berlin Wall was also celebrated. It is not just a reminder of the end of an
era of profound division; it is a symbol of hope, showing that it is possible to
overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles for the benefit of what is deeply
rooted in our human nature, namely life in dignity and freedom. And the fact
that it was achieved in a marvelously peaceful manner makes us hopeful that it
can be done again. We need bridges and not walls that will connect peoples from
Vancouver to Vladivostok, spreading peace throughout the world.
The OSCE participating States have recognized and repeatedly
reaffirmed that security goes beyond politico-military issues. It includes, as
integral parts, issues related to the economic and environmental sphere, as well
as to human rights. In fact, the OSCE has placed respect for human rights,
fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law at the very core of any
effective response to security threats. It goes without saying that security
cannot be achieved without the protection of human rights and, on the other
hand, that full respect of human rights can be ensured only in a secure
environment, allowing individuals to enjoy the inalienable rights and freedoms
to which they are all entitled as human beings. We should also keep in mind that
the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve
as guarantees safeguarding inherent human dignity. (cf. Address of His
Holiness Benedict XVI, Meeting with the members of the General Assembly of the
United Nations Organization, New York, 18 April 2008).
There is no doubt that all human beings are born free and
equal in dignity and rights and are united in one human family. Therefore the
Holy See welcomes with gratitude the ongoing attention the OSCE is paying to the
problem of trafficking of human persons. Indeed, “human trafficking is a crime
against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this
increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic
values of society and of international security and justice, to say nothing of
the economy, and the fabric of the family and our coexistence. What is called
for, then, is a shared sense of responsibility and firmer political will to gain
victory on this front. Responsibility is required towards those who have fallen
victim to trafficking in order to protect their rights, to guarantee their
safety and that of their families, and to prevent the corrupt and criminals from
escaping justice and having the last word over the lives of others” (Address
of His Holiness Pope Francis to the new Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See
on the occasion of the presentation of the letters of credence, 12 December
We wish to draw particular attention to freedom of religion
or belief, which lies at the heart of basic human rights. Numerous international
documents recognize that the spiritual dimension of life is a vital part of
human existence. Freedom of religion or belief is also a well-established
constant in the OSCE documents, stretching from the Helsinki Final Act to
include the Astana Summit Commemorative Declaration and the Kiev Ministerial
Decision adopted at our gathering last year. The adoption of last year’s
decision shows that the rights associated with religion need particular
protection. Let us not forget its unifying power as well, since this is where we
have found a common ground after some years without reaching decisions in the
human dimension. However, despite the commitments undertaken by the
participating States of the OSCE in the area of religious freedom, which
actually includes many other rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression,
association and peaceful assembly, in some countries, including countries of the
OSCE region and its neighboring areas, this right is still gravely violated.
We cannot be silent in the face of tens of thousands of
Christians who are persecuted and killed worldwide every year, including in
areas bordering on the OSCE region. There is no doubt that these profoundly
deplorable crimes, which also place the security of participating States at
risk, must be strongly condemned and opposed.
In this regard, I would like to recall the words of Pope
Francis who insists on the responsibility of the international community to help
those who suffer persecution in the Middle East: “As I have had the occasion to
reiterate several times, we cannot resign ourselves to thinking of the Middle
East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus for 2,000 years.
Recent events, mostly in Iraq and Syria, are dire. We are witnessing a
phenomenon of terrorism of previously unimaginable dimensions. So many of our
brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have had to leave their homes,
even in a brutal manner. It seems that awareness of the value of human life has
been lost. It seems that the person does not count and can be sacrificed for
other interests. And all this, unfortunately, with the indifference of so many”
(Address of His Holiness Pope Francis in occasion of the Ordinary Public
Consistory, 20 October 2014).
The OSCE, its participating States and their “partners for
cooperation” must raise their voice against this injustice and against the
brutal violation of the rights of persons simply because of their faith. What is
needed, as the Holy Father stated during his recent visit in Turkey, is a new
solidarity between Muslims and Christians in the fight against terrorism and “a
concerted commitment on the part of all, based on mutual trust, which can pave
the way to lasting peace” (Address of His Holiness Pope Francis during the
meeting with the President of Turkey, Prime Minister and civil authorities,
Ankara, 28 November 2014). There must be a new partnership of believers and
non-believers to fight anti-semitism, intolerance against Muslims and the ever
growing discrimination against Christians also in Europe, where, although there
is no organized persecution, there are many forms of intolerance which manifest
themselves in a variety of ways, even in hate motivated crimes against persons
and sacred places.
Bearing all of this in mind, we continue to insist that the
full guarantee of religious freedom cannot be limited to the free exercise of
worship; it must also give due consideration to the public dimension of religion
and, hence, to the possibility of believers exercising their responsibility in
building the social order. Every violation of religious freedom, whether
explicit or subtle, does fundamental damage to the cause of peace and security.
In conclusion, I wish to renew my gratitude to the 2014 Swiss
Chairmanship of the OSCE for its leadership and service, as well as to express
my best wishes to the incoming Serbian Chairmanship as we work together to
attain the goals, implement the common vision and work according to common
values agreed upon and shared by all the participating States of the OSCE .