The Vatican has defended the rights of national minorities

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Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk
Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk

Monsignor Janusz Urbanczyk, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), spoke at a regular meeting of the Permanent Council of this body. The focus was on the report of the High Commissioner for National Minorities, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov.

Victor Vladimirov – Vatican City

The Vatican diplomat highlighted four aspects of minority protection, the first of which is education, “an essential tool for reducing tensions” and preventing conflicts in this area. Particular attention should be paid to the education of young people that promotes “a better understanding and respect for different cultures, ethnic groups and religions.” Thus, education will become not only “a means of encouraging the active participation of national minorities in social and political life”, but also “a place for strengthening tolerance and non-discrimination, helping to build bridges of peace and stability.”

Secondly, Monsignor Urbanchik reaffirmed the importance of “ensuring equal rights for women and men, promoting equal opportunities and effective participation of women in political, economic, social and cultural life, especially representatives of national minorities.” The Vatican diplomat called on the structures involved in economic and social support to meet women halfway so that they could “meet their needs for education, adequate medical care, decent housing and social security.”

Another important tool for the protection of national minorities, according to Janusz Urbanczyk, is the fight against discrimination on the basis of language. In this area, the prelate recalled, there are “many long-standing commitments to which OSCE member states have not always paid due attention,” although they are called upon to do much more. Referring to the “disproportionate impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable, including minorities, the diplomat stressed that the health emergency has exposed “inequalities that put these people at greater risk of suffering.”

The Permanent Observer from the Holy See pointed to the situation in which the Roma and Sinti people find themselves: “due to overcrowding and poor housing conditions” they are even more at risk of contracting the coronavirus, and also “disproportionately” suffer from the consequences of isolation and technological backwardness. Monsignor Urbanchik called on governments to guarantee everyone a minimum income, decent and stable jobs, and “universal access to basic services, including health care, including vaccines.”

“The Holy See,” the diplomat emphasized, “believes in the principle that every person – regardless of their ethnic, cultural and national origin or religious beliefs – has an inalienable dignity, from which universal human rights derive.” The Catholic Church is close to all members of national minorities and is committed to protecting, supporting and strengthening human rights, the Vatican spokesman concluded.

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