Mr. Viktor Gaber
State Secretary

World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa
2 September 2001

Madam President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to express my pleasure for having the opportunity of addressing this important Conference on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. I would like to congratulate and express my appreciation to the Government of the South Africa for the excellent organization that facilitated the convening of the Conference in the best possible conditions.

Madam President,

The phenomenon of racism and related forms of discrimination and intolerance are one of the most resistant and also most destructive challenges faced by the international community. For half a century now, the destructive force of racism and measures for its prevention and fight against it are in the focus of the agenda of activities of our World Organization and of relevant regional international organizations.

For decades now, one of the key goals of the UN and the relevant regional organizations is the human rights and basic freedoms promotion based on the core principle of equality and non-discrimination, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the true response to its opposing principle of racism, inequality and discrimination. The result is an impressive development of international human rights law.

This Conference, organized at the beginning of the new millenium, is an excellent opportunity to summarize what we have achieved, identify modern forms of racism and related problems, promote our future commitments and concrete preventive measures and efficient fight against racism.

Madam President,

Fully supporting the Political Declaration adopted at the European Conference against Racism in October 2000 in Strasbourg, and starting with the policy pursued by the Republic of Macedonia in which the basic principle of non-discrimination and respect for human rights are the basic values of its constitutional order, I take this opportunity to underscore several significant aspects of the global fight against racism such as:

- prevention and elimination of racism and racial discrimination to be dealt through the establishment of a legal framework. Racism and racial discrimination as other forms of their manifestation represent serious human rights violations, against which we are to decisively fight. The basic problem in this area is the gap between what is proclaimed and what is realized;

- the promotion of the international protection system is of no less importance. In this context, the adoption of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for Human Rights represents a true step forward in the protection of the basic human rights principle- the principle of equality;

- implementing the legal framework. The full implementation of the international and domestic law in this area is a priority, various forms of monitoring giving their contribution to this end. However, even the most sophisticated framework will not produce the desired results without the appropriate strategy and measures for its implementation;

- promotion, fostering and protection of various cultural identities in societies and above all education as a precondition and investment in the fight against racism and all forms of intolerance and xenophobia. Multicultural societies are our reality and violent forms of racism are most often aimed exactly against different cultural, linguistic and religious identities. It is necessary to develop a "culture of human rights" especially among the young people. Human rights education, education about the fundamental values of human dignity, about respect of difference should be part of the curricula at all levels of education. We should not forget the education of teachers, law enforcement personnel, judges, prosecutors and other public servants.

Madam President,

Most modern forms of racism are extraordinarily dangerous and seriously degrade the very fabric of democratic societies. However, it seems that abuse of racism for political purposes is especially dangerous form. The abuse of racist and xenophobic arguments in the political debate is the basic creator of a climate of hatred, divisions, and isolations in many societies. The policy of exclusiveness and racism especially present in the public appearance of political leaders directly feeds ethnocentrism and violent nationalism, directing huge collective hatred and negation against any other different cultural matrix. Hence, the enormous responsibility lies on politicians in creating the public opinion. Unfortunately, political extremism is on the rise and becomes a serious problem in Europe. The region of Southeastern Europe, to which the Republic of Macedonia belongs, for a decade now is faced monstrous ethnic cleansing and feels in the most radical manner the consequences of various racist pollicies. The destructive spirit of racism is vital indeed, while lasting peace, stability and prosperity in this region is still a desired goal.

The Republic of Macedonia today faces dramatic consequences due to a conduct of a racist policy by some extremist political leaders.

At this moment, when we face the largest and certainly the most difficult crisis in our independence, the question about the causes of this crisis imposes itself: are the causes of an internal or external nature; does the international community sincerely believe and support multicultural societies and the civic character of states?

I have to underline that the crisis that the Republic of Macedonia faces is of external nature. Regretfully for us, the crisis is a direct "export" from the situation in Kosovo. Unfortunately, the crisis is also an expression of the failure all of us to decisively oppose the malignant concept of "ethnically clean territories", which is threatening the stability in the region. In this context, all we could expect, if we ignore the fostering of such a concept, is a generation of more and new conflicts and sufferings. The crisis in the Republic of Macedonia serves as an example in this regard.

It should be clear that the endeavor for bi-ethnic state, i.e. a state of collectives in which the status of a citizen is of secondary importance is unacceptable. Therefore, the only democratic solution is strengthening of the civil character of the Constitution, while the preservation of the unitary character of the state is of crucial importance.

Consequently, the Republic of Macedonia, since the very start of the crisis, has gained strong and decisive support by all relevant subjects in the international community in the preservation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty, while condemning, isolating and marginalizing terrorists and violence, and on the other hand consolidating the inter-ethnic relations and strengthening the multicultural democracy, as an extraordinary value of the Macedonian society.

The Republic of Macedonia has been and will remain a genuine example in the region. We make all efforts to overcome the crisis and we will persist in our commitment to peace and good-neighborliness.

Madam President,

The focus of this Conference is the global fight against racism and all forms of intolerance- phenomena that basically destroy the pillars of democratic societies. Therefore, the fight against these phenomena is to be uncompromising, using all strengths at all levels, since as the High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed at this year's session of the Human Rights Commission: "racism and xenophobia are wellsprings of many of the worlds conflicts; because they are a key element of the vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion; and because these forces run directly contrary to the fundamental message of human rights which is that every member of the human family has equal and inalienable rights."

In this regard, we must fulfil the expectations and accomplish the goals of this World Conference against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. The example of the people of South Africa should lead us in this direction.

Racism and inequality are still our reality. Therefore, this Conference must make the true step forward in the global fight against racism, adopting a powerful Declaration and Action Plan.

Thank you.