Distinguished media representatives,
Thanks for the invitation; I am honored to address today on the occasion of the fourth century of the existence of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in our country, organization, undisputed veteran in the protection and promotion of human rights.
The almost three decades of our country’s independence and long and painful transition were filled with political crises, social injustice, fragile inter-ethnic relations, political mistrust and intolerance towards the different.
In such circumstances, for the past 25 years, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights has been a constructive critic of the state that is alarming about social injustices, legal omissions, political abuses and other social deviations. You are actively fighting prejudice, stereotypes, discrimination, corruption, hatred and violence in our society.
Through your mechanisms like free legal aid, justice became available to the families of people with disabilities, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, socially deprived citizens. Your Safe House assists members of the LGBTI community who are victims of violence. With your loudness, visits to prisons in the country, human rights reports, anti-discrimination, protection of refugees and asylum seekers, all just part of your job, you have made visible the citizens who were invisible to the institutions, always being on the side of the weaker.
Labor rights, equal opportunities for men and women, gender equality, inclusion of persons with disabilities, the rights and protection of the LGBTI community, equal right to social and health protection, education, fair trial, hate speech and hate crimes – all of these topics would be on the sidelines of public discourse if you did not alert and persistently demand respect for human rights and freedoms for all.
You know better than me that the job is far from done. Human rights and freedoms are at stake whenever they are taken for granted, as if they were once acquired and guaranteed. Every generation must reaffirm them repeatedly in order to enjoy these rights. There is hardly a day, without learning of a violation of human rights and restriction on human freedom. Domestic violence, exploitation of workers, labeling of different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations or gender identities, stigmatization of addicts, unfortunately, are part of our daily lives. We cannot afford to be indifferent to the violation of human rights and the right to human dignity.
The battle for human rights must continue, because no human right is the right of one person or one community at a time. The freedom we have should be used to promote the freedom of others. A truly free society is one in which the rights of the smallest community are as respected as the rights of the largest community.
We need to be active! The struggle for human rights and freedoms must not be the engagement of several intellectuals and activists, but the call and duty of every citizen, of every human being.
We are all born free and equal and therefore we should not allow the stronger to have rights over the weaker. To work together to find the balance between public security and individual freedom, to uphold the universality of human rights without disrupting diversity.
To constantly re-read and explain the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. Advanced European society is only one in which the richness of diversity is respected and promoted.
Hence, we will make progress in two interconnected processes: the first is civil reconciliation when everyone living in this country is respected and respected by the institutions, not only on paper but also in practice. Our key goal must be a society free of prejudice in which there is room for everyone.
The second is European integration. In the fundamentals of the European Union and the so-called European lifestyles are the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
You, in the Helsinki Committee, for over 25 years, persist in the fight for human rights and freedoms driven by a belief in the value and inalienable dignity of every human being. On that road, I am with you, with no residue.
I wish, by the next jubilee, we could build a European society and a European state of political dialogue, social justice, solidarity with marginalized people and communities, environmental concern, where the rules apply to everyone.
Congratulations and thank you!