IN RESPONSE TO PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CiO ON COMBATING INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION

Tacan İLDEM 10.11.2011
PERMANENT MISSION OF TURKEY TO THE OSCE

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TACAN İLDEM PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF TURKEY IN RESPONSE TO PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CiO ON COMBATING INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION
(887th Meeting of the Permanent Council, 10 November 2011)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson,

I join the previous speakers in warmly welcoming the Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office on combating intolerance and discrimination to the Permanent Council. We thank them for their thought-provoking presentations.

The contents of the reports presented today constitute a testimony to not just continuing but augmented relevance of the work of the three Personal Representatives. Their efforts individually and collectively represent an indisputable added value. At this juncture, it is worth to be repetitive by underscoring the valuable political and technical support that is provided by the respective Chairmanships as well as by ODIHR since 2004 in assisting the Representatives in fulfilling their mandates.

Facts and figures portray an unpleasant and worrying picture of racist and xenophobic violence; hate motivated incidents, ethnic profiling and hostility particularly against migrants and Roma-Sinti within the OSCE area. These phenomena can no longer be qualified and contained as the so-called isolated actions of ultra nationalist and extreme right wing groups. The scope and frequency of these incidents are neither narrow nor far between. In order to complement the assessment of Ambassador Ahmetov, I would like to point out that the recent terrorist attacks with tragic consequences in Norway should serve as an eye-opener for the participating States. Their root causes should be subject of thorough discussion and analysis that could result in a comprehensive set of measures in effectively addressing these challenges.

The role and responsibility of political leaders and representatives in eliminating racism and xenophobia deserves particular attention. They should lead decisive and result-oriented action against discrimination, segregation and hate, rather than contributing to prevalent practices of alienating `others` and stemming tensions among societies.

Mass media coverage depicting the migrants and Roma-Sinti as the scapegoats of negative trends in the society, finger pointing Muslims as the prime suspect of terrorism, widespread anti-Semitic manifestations and intolerance against Christians are only a few examples of recurrent challenges that require urgent and careful deliberation of the participating States. The political discourse of the far right has become embedded in the mainstream so as to become almost unrecognizable. Such rhetoric disseminated through the media, unfortunately, help encourage and justify racist, xenophobic and discriminatory acts and violence. That is for this reason, we believe that the Representative on Freedom of the Media can and should play an important role in identifying and reporting on racist, xenophobic and hate motivated media activities in participating States, as well as providing the media with assistance in developing code of conduct on ethical and anti-racist journalism.

We agree with the conclusion of Rabbi Baker that despite concrete measures taken by the participating States, anti-Semitism continues to remain. We acknowledge that anti-Semitic hate crimes have unique characteristics and origins. Defamation of the Jewish people is a deplorable trend. However, objective political criticism of the policies of any Government, should not in itself constitute or be construed as an act of anti-Semitism. Such distinction is more than necessary in achieving considerable results in the fight against anti-Semitism.

We also concur with Prof. Introvigne that racism still exists in different parts of the OSCE area in various manifestations, often associated with anti-Semitism and discrimination against Muslims. Discrimination against Muslims and prejudices on Islam have become a well-established fact in almost all walks of life. The root cause of this fact is the phenomenon called ‘Islamophobia’. This phenomenon is on the rise, especially in the West and ought to be addressed urgently at domestic and international levels. The assertion that there are disagreements regarding the definition of the term ‘Islamophobia’ does no harm to this urgency. Islamophobia is a form of racism and it must be treated as such.

Let me conclude by wishing every possible success to the Personal Representatives in their future endeavors.

Thank you for your attention.