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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet: Standing For Human Rights is Integral Part of Estonian Foreign Policy

01.03.2012

No. 49-E

At the regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that Estonia makes a serious contribution to protecting human rights and basic freedoms and this year is a candidate to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council from 2013-2015.

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that standing for human rights has been an integral part of Estonia’s foreign policy since the country regained its independence. “We understand the true value of freedom and rights, and we know how priceless the support of partners and close neighbours is when establishing a democracy. Today we wish to help those that are in a similar situation to what we experienced 20 years ago,” he added.

Paet stated that for Estonia the most important issues in the human rights sector are freedom of expression, including the protection of internet freedom; issues related to the rights of women, children, and indigenous peoples; and taking gender into consideration in crisis resolution and the EU’s Common Security and Foreign Policy. “If we are elected to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council, we would like to focus on these issues,” he added.

In his speech, Foreign Minister Paet also spoke about the human rights situation in the world at large and expressed deep concern over human rights violations in Syria. He called upon the authorities in that country to stop using violence against their own people immediately. “The killing and repression of the people must stop immediately,” emphasised Foreign Minister Paet. The foreign minister recognised the Arab League’s active work in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Paet also mentioned the human rights situation in Belarus during his speech in Geneva. “The international community must continue to put pressure on the Belarusian authorities so that restrictions on human rights and civil freedoms would end. Estonia also has the goal of continuing to support civil society, free press, and the opposition in Belarus in any way possible,” he said.

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