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Foreign minister Urmas Paet: we must do everything possible to prevent future crimes against humanity


Foreign minister Urmas Paet said today at the International Conference on Genocide Prevention in Brussels that the unequivocal condemnation of crimes against humanity and offering of a good education help to ensure the prevention of such crimes in the future.

Paet explained that Estonia lost 17,5 % of its pre-war population during the Nazi and Soviet occupations. The foreign minister added that the world has seen a lot of crimes against humanity that will haunt humanity for eternity. “The Holocaust, the Holodomor, the genocide in Cambodia, Gulag forced labour camps, mass deportations committed by the Soviet repressive apparatus and many others are just a few tragic examples,” Paet said. “Our duty is to do all that we can so that such tragic events never happen again,” he added.

The foreign minister stressed that genocide must be unequivocally condemned. “It is important that the international community knows everything and talks openly about the consequences of such crimes,” said Paet. “Worse still, is that the victims of such crimes are often the most vulnerable groups – women and children,” he said.

In Paet’s view, to prevent such horrors, we must contribute to quality education. “When children grow up in a world where they are taught to be tolerant of others and respect each other, hate speech loses all of its false appeal,” Paet explained. "In addition to the important role of education, which shapes people's values, the international community must invest in activities to effectively prevent grave crimes,” he added.

According to minister Paet, the activities of civil society organizations protecting human rights, as well as those of the UN are invaluable. “Such organizations must be supported as much as possible, because therein lies the secret of how to notice early distressing signs that would allow timely intervention,” he said.

Foreign minister Urmas Paet spoke at the International Conference on Genocide Prevention in Brussels. Among other speakers at the high-level conference are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland.

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