VATICAN CITY, 1 DEC 2010 (VIS) – Made public today was the address delivered by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. before the summit meeting of heads of State and government of the fifty-six members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), being held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 1 and 2 December.

Cardinal Bertone affirmed that the Holy See “does not cease to reiterate that the aim of States should be to protect and respect that human dignity which unites the entire human family. This unity is rooted in four fundamental principles: the centrality of the human person, of solidarity, of subsidiarity and of the common good. These principles harmonise well with the overall concept of security, which is the foundation of our organisation, and are a constant reminder which the political community must bear in mind”.

“The CSCE and the OSCE have always had the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective agendas”, said Cardinal Bertone. “These fundamental freedoms include the right to religious freedom. … Developments of recent years and the progress made in drafting the various texts adopted by the OSCE show, with increasingly clarity, that religious freedom can exist in different social systems”.

“Closely related to the denial of religious freedom is religiously-motivated intolerance and discrimination, especially against Christians. It is well documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group. Over 200 million of them, belonging to different denominations, live in difficult conditions because of legal and cultural structures”.

Referring then to the subject of human trafficking, the cardinal secretary of State pointed out that “the Holy See has always been aware of the seriousness of this crime, a modern form of slavery. … To prevent trafficking in human beings today, use is often made of stricter immigration policies, increased border controls and combating organised crime. However as long as its victims, once repatriated, find themselves in the same conditions from which they sought to escape, the traffic will not be easy to stop. Thus, anti-trafficking initiatives must also aim to develop and offer effective opportunities to break the cycle of poverty-abuse-exploitation”.

Finally the cardinal underlined the ongoing validity of the “ten principles” of the Helsinki Conference, stressing that “the commitments agreed by the OSCE are strong and noble. They are supported by a robust mandate and by the principle of consent. The Holy See reaffirms these commitments and encourages the organisation to stand firm on them”.

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