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Informal meeting of the General Assembly to address concerns of a rise in anti-Semitic violence worldwide

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Informal meeting of the General Assembly to address concerns of a rise in anti-Semitic violence worldwide

Statement by
H.E. Ambassador Michel Spinellis
Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations

NEW YORK
Thursday, January 22, 2015

Your Excellencies,

We welcome today’s meeting as an important opportunity to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism and engage in an in-depth dialogue on how to combat this manifestation of racism, intolerance and violence. It is important to do so, all the more in the light of the alarming anti-Semitic incidents taking place around the world.

Anti-Semitism is an issue beyond the security and respect to Jews in whatever part of the world they find themselves. Fighting against anti-Semitism is a matter of protecting human rights and human dignity, as well as securing freedom of religion and expression, which constitute fundamental values of our societies.

Greece spares no effort, both at national and international levels, to consolidate policies against xenophobia, racism or any other kind of discrimination. The Greek Government immediately condemns and takes firm action against acts of intolerance and anti-Semitism, in accordance with national, European and international legislation. My country is among the European countries with the fewest anti-Semitic incidents over the recent years.

Anti-Semitism is not tolerated in Greece, both by Law and in practice.

In September 2013, the leader and members of “Golden Dawn”, a political party of extreme ideology, represented in Parliament, were placed under judicial investigation for running a “criminal organization”.
In September 2014, the Hellenic Parliament adopted a new anti-racist Law, aiming at strengthening the existing criminal anti- racism legislation and focusing on combating certain forms of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal Law.

Greece is working effectively towards this end and will continue to combat anti-Semitism as well as any form of religious intolerance. As a member of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance since already 2005, my country has been active in this regard, based on the three strategic pillars: Remembrance, Education and Research.

Moreover, by resolution of the Greek Parliament, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day is honoured each year, on the 27th of January, with events throughout the country and the participation of officials of the highest level.

Your Excellencies,

Greeks of Christian faith, as well as Greeks of Jewish faith have lived together in peace for centuries. The historic presence of Jewish Diaspora in Greek lands has enriched our culture and civilization. Today, the status of the Jewish Community, an integral part of the Greek society, is guaranteed and protected, as it has always been the case since the early steps of the modern Greek State.

Still, we have to remain vigilant. The fight against anti-Semitism or against any kind of racism or discrimination based on colour, religion, ethnicity is a challenging and endless effort.

At the end, the most effective weapon to address the root causes of violence and intolerance in every form is education. It is through education that we would tackle the major sources of xenophobia and religious intolerance in our societies. We have the duty to prevent the perpetuation of prejudices and stereotypes, which may be based on ignorance, but tend to threaten the fundamental principles of our tolerant, democratic and inclusive societies.

Thank you.

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