19 april 2017 – Video and text of the speech by Hon. Riccardo Migliori, Past President OSCE Parliament, held on 7 april 2017 at the presentation of the Acts of the 1st Conference by FOB, Laicity and Freedom of Belief in Italy.
Dear friends, dear Silvio, dear Eugenio, I will be very short for two reasons: first because I did not know I had to talk ... and this is a 'trap', second because it would be good for politics, especially in current times, to be more inclined to listen than to speak and, third, as he [Silvio Calzolari] gave me the word citing the fact that I was for one year the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE, I would like to mention two very specific issues to make you understand how both I and, I think, Eugenio Giani, are inclined in our present role and in past ones to be supportive of your activities.
I met Benedict XVI who told me: "You see, Honorable, as Holy See we don’t do a politics of support to the freedoms of belief and religion as if they were some minor segment compared with human rights considered as a whole."
I told him: "Holy Father, you see, for us it is a litmus test. Where there is freedom of belief and religion, also the substantive freedoms of human rights exist. If these are missing, it means that also all the others are missing."
And this is significant because, in my opinion, the struggle for human rights is a fight that starts - your specific mission - from this element of religious freedom, but it concerns the freedoms at large, because it is a fundamental protection of human rights in a moment that, in various parts of our hemisphere at least, this is particularly complex.
Eugenio is right, there are religious differences, sometimes sharp, sometimes in support of ethnic or ideological conflicts, which have to be demined.
Does it seem possible that in the twenty-first century, still today in Europe, there is a big debate in Belfast and in Dublin on the fact that with the Brexit we should reinstate the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and by doing this waving again the flags of the religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants?
The same issue of Nagorno Karabakh, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the everyday war disavowed by the Italian newspapers that are little concerned with foreign politics and that still have not understood the logic and the lessons of the global village.
It also feeds on religious opposition, and the same is between Georgia and North Ossetia, where the ethnical, political and ideological conflicts or the imperialist dream also feeds on a issue of religious differentiation and is taken to extremes in support of this opposition: therefore, to demine the field of the contrast “of religious nature”, in the name and on behalf of the freedom of belief, is fundamental, not only for the purpose of that specific human right, but for the purposes of peace, peaceful coexistence, dialogue and human rights taken as a whole.
That's why you, in my opinion, are more important than what you think you are. Thank you.