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YEREVAN. – Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland gives a high valuation to Armenia’s achievements during its presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Thorbjørn Jagland is participating in a conference on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Europe that is being held in Yerevan.

Speaking about the conference, Secretary General noted the inadmissibility of xenophobia and intolerance, especially in the statements of politicians and the media. Secretary General believes that the ethnic and cultural diversity must be regarded as a positive factor in the development of the European region, and not vice versa.

In this context, he recalled that racism and xenophobia in the past have greatly hindered Europe, and should not interfere in the future. In particular, Mr. Jagland recalled the events in Nazi Germany and the persecution of the Jews.

“Such manifestations interfere with the protection of human rights,” he said, noting that the politicians must consider sensitivity of the issue in their statements. He is convinced that one can not leave the situation as it is, and it is necessary to eliminate such occurrences in Europe.

Some European parties can pose a great threat. In particular, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia can be dangerous and policy makers should be aware of where these trends may lead, he emphasized.

“Europe has always been diverse and should be so,” he said.

The Secretary General is convinced that the need to strengthen the monitoring of the field, because intolerance is also an obstacle to the development of democracy. According to him, the ECHR has elaborated 70 different wordings that could be considered offensive in terms of racism, as well as the wordings in terms of extremism and freedom of speech.

The conference, with the exception of the introductory part, is closed to the media.

Photo by Arsen Sargsyan/

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