31 August 2003

A new hope?

[source, source]
Let me, from my viewpoint as Austrian foreign minister, briefly outline the nature of these expectations on the basis of a few issues, which I hope you will discuss in the course of your meeting and take into consideration in your "Graz Declaration": * Are human rights merely compatible with Islam, as is written in the agenda for this conference, or do the Islamic institutions in Europe have specific ways and means of defending and advocating human rights, both actively and by initiative?

I would believe that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be actively endorsed by all UN member states and in particular by the religious communities in Europe. * What is the attitude towards the position of women in the light of the European Convention on Human Rights, which lays down as a rule the equality of man and women before the law and makes this enforceable in court in all areas of life? Let me tell you in this context that European women cannot understand that there should be crimes which are punished by death by stoning and that it is women in particular who are threatened by this abominable fate.

I therefore appeal to you to include a passage in your Graz Declaration calling for mercy for Amina Laval, who has been condemned to death by stoning in Nigeria, thus disassociating yourselves from such methods of dispensing justice or execution of sentences. In my capacity as Austrian foreign minister I will continue to undertake every effort and use every available means to bring an end to this atrocious punishment. * What is the attitude Islam in Europe has adopted towards the separation of state and church, as provided for in the constitutions of almost all European countries? And what about the compatibility of Islam and democracy? After having asked these questions I would like to affirm immediately that I do not believe that the non-Islamic cultural traditions in Europe have already found final and ideal answers to them. Today, democracy and the social market economy certainly play a much more prominent role in Europe than in other parts of the world. But a short glance back in our history reveals that Europe was in fact the fatal starting point for Fascism/National Socialism, Communism and Bolshevism, which all unleashed their full destructive force on our continent - and not so long ago, either!
Unfortunately uncommon good sense from a European minister.
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Excuses, excuses

Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy.
-- John Derbyshire
Cuba's primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three.
-- Brian Wilson, Labor MP, Cunninghame North, UK
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Sixth Republic Watch

[source, source]
Eleven years after France signed the Maastricht Treaty it has decided it has had enough of its obligations. The straitjacket of the stability pact, which paved the way for the euro, is bound too tight for an economic downturn, it has told Brussels.
Gosh, if only the US could learn to abide by treaties in the multilateral way France does!
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