Closing plenary session
"I would like to highlight a critical area of implementation where, as our HDIM discussions indicated, much work still needs to be done: that of ensuring respect for the fundamental freedoms of thought, conscience, religion or belief, expression, peaceful assembly and association. It is from these fundamental freedoms that the lifeblood of a healthy democracy flows. These freedoms are under siege today in a number of participating States. These states continue to abuse their power and misuse the law to pressure NGOs, journalists and others in civil society, and members of the political opposition. So-called 'extremism' laws, onerous registration and tax requirements and 'defamation' laws constrain the legitimate, peaceful activities of human rights defenders, non-governmental organizations, religious groups and the independent media. Recent years also have witnessed the threat or use of extra-legal means - including lethal violence - against members of the independent media in particular."
Statement by Ambassador Karen B. Stewart of the United States of America
"Besides social problems, in the context of the crisis that has broken out, the issues of the rise of xenophobia and discrimination against migrant workers in terms of employment and social security must undoubtedly be given much more undiverted attention. It is not out of the question that there could be a sharp increase in extremist, Nazi, and neo-Nazi ideologies and movements, which, even with this [increase], have already taken root in many European countries where they are tolerated, as well as even supported by the authorities."
Statement by Oleg Maglinov of the Russian Federation
Interview with Dmitry Klag, Open Position
What aspects of this conference did you find useful?
I think the meeting is very interesting because, for those countries where external influence is very important, [where] reminders about certain obligations [are important], this is a forum where it is possible to exchange opinions with governments. There are probably difficulties only with countries where public statements against the authorities can have negative consequences. But as far as I can see, the format used here allows [participants] to raise sufficiently serious questions. It is also useful that there are debates at the level of OSCE participating States themselves since their status allows them to remind one another about the commitments that one country or another is failing to uphold. The impact that this criticism will have in the future is another question. What is important is the process itself.
Interview with Valery Hrytsuk, Co-ordinator of the International Association of Independent Democrats against Authoritarian Regimes
For your organization, what was the most important issue discussed at the meeting?
For me, as the co-ordinator of an association of organizations in Central Asia and Belarus, it was important that we were able to present our view of [certain] problems, and second, and perhaps more important, to focus the attention of conference participants on certain serious, even crucial, issues involving countries [showing signs of] dictatorship ... We asked conference participants, first and foremost representatives of European countries, to pay more attention to protection and support of human rights ...