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2016 Kazakhstan terrorism conference 310516L-R: Alain Neri, Bahar Muradova, George Tsereteli, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Christine Muttonen, Roberto Montella, Kent Harstedt; Astana, 31 May 2016ASTANA, 2 June 2016 – OSCE PA Special Representative for Central and Eastern Asia Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) and other senior members spoke Tuesday at the “Religions against Terrorism” conference in Astana on the eve of the 15th meeting of the Secretariat of the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

Expressing a strong belief in the role of inter-parliamentary diplomacy and noting that the OSCE PA has become an important platform for supporting inter-religious dialogue, Muttonen called for greater unity and co-operation across the OSCE area in countering violent extremism and said that promoting understanding and tolerance between religions is an essential component of the overall work of the OSCE.

“The level of peace, freedom and stability that we have achieved within the OSCE area cannot be taken for granted,” she said. “We constantly need to stand up for it and maintain it, if we don’t want to lose it again.”

In addition to Muttonen, who in her capacity as PA Vice-President and Special Representative was appointed by President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) to represent him at the Astana conference, several other members of the OSCE PA also participated, including OSCE PA Vice-Presidents Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden), George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) and Alain Neri (MP, France); Head of the Azerbaijani delegation Bahar Muradova; and Special Representative for Mediterranean Affairs Michel Voisin (MP, France); as well as former First Committee Chair Makis Voridis (MP, Greece).

The PA members, who had been invited by Chairman of the Senate and Head of Kazakhstan’s PA Delegation Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, noted the importance of countering violent extremism through pragmatic action and ensuring that inter-religious dialogue continues.

“Political leaders, from governments or parliaments, play a key role in achieving national consensus against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in providing solidarity and support to victims,” Tsereteli said. “By combining efforts and cooperation with religious leaders to combat terrorism and extremism, it will be easier to promote freedom, peace and mutual respect.”

“It is important that we look at the whole cycle regarding terrorism,” noted Harstedt. “We need to jointly address its root courses, fight terrorism and share the burdens of it.”

Neri said that “French secularism is non-negotiable,” while his colleague from France Voisin focused on the role of politicians in facilitating dialogue. “Even if politicians have the prerogative of ensuring public peace, they should still allow the various religions to set their own conditions for dialogue. The political authority is a facilitator of such dialogue but not its protagonist,” said Voisin.

Muradova stressed the need to address the financing of terrorism. “Our final document has to reflect our full commitment to fighting those who create, finance and arm the terrorist organizations in their interests,” she said, referring to the joint statement being negotiated by the conference participants.

“We all agree that the entire international community should join efforts to combat emerging threats such as violent extremism and terrorism,” Voridis said. “Now it is high time to go home and work.”

The event, which featured participation by prominent world leaders and religious figures, culminated in a final document that noted “the growing importance and role of inter-religious dialogue, international cooperation, political and inter-parliamentary diplomacy in ensuring the spiritual and legal foundations of global peace and security.”

A clause welcoming UN Security Council Resolutions 2250 and 1325, which was put forward by Special Representative Muttonen, was also included in the final document.

Watch Christine Muttonen's speech on YouTube:

Watch OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella's speech here:

 George Tsereteli speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference

Kent Harstedt speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference

 Alain Neri speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference

Michel Voisin speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference

Bahar Muradova speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference

Makis Voridis speaks at “Religions against Terrorism” conference