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Hungary champions rights of minorities during address to General Assembly

Hungary champions rights of minorities during address to General Assembly

Foreign Minister Péter Balázs of Hungary
Vibrant minority groups strengthen countries rather than undermine them, Hungary’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today as he warned of “alarming tendencies” to curtail the political, cultural and educational opportunities worldwide in the wake of the financial crisis.

Speaking on the fifth day of the Assembly’s annual high-level segment, Péter Balázs said it was time for the international community to pay special attention to respect for minority rights, particularly at the upcoming meeting in November in Geneva of the second Minority Forum.

“The presence of flourishing minority communities does not weaken a State, but rather makes it stronger,” Mr. Balázs said. “Trust between the majority and minority within a country can be built on this basis.”

He noted that extreme nationalist, racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic movements and sentiments have re-emerged or become stronger since the global economic crisis began.

“We are witnessing alarming tendencies with a detrimental effect on the political participation, cultural life and educational opportunities of minorities… We cannot allow those alarming trends to prevail or roll back the advance of democratic values and human rights.”

Mr. Balázs stressed the need to preserve the cultural and linguistic identities of national minorities and the upholding of their human rights in general.

In his address the Foreign Minister also discussed the concept of “responsibility to protect,” the principle that requires governments to protect their citizens against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

“We strongly believe that there is a clear and urgent need for further institution-building in the field of the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities.

“That is the reason why Hungary prepared this year a feasibility study on the establishment of the Budapest Centre for the International Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. Such a centre could stimulate worldwide cooperative efforts in the next few years to establish a well-functioning system for the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities, through a dynamic and systematic approach of early action mechanisms.”