Swiss minister calls for "battle against hatred" in Balkans

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss (left) called on the international community Monday to support the “only battle worth fighting” in order to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the war-ravaged Balkans.

This content was published on October 18, 1999 - 17:21

Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss (left) called on the international community Monday to support the “only battle worth fighting” in order to bring peace, stability and prosperity to the war-ravaged Balkans.

"We must fight the only battle worth fighting, and that is the battle against hatred, violence and injustice," Deiss told 60 delegations attending two days of talks in Geneva on how to secure democracy and respect for human rights in the Balkans.

The Swiss minister said lasting peace would only be possible in the region if there is respect for ethnic minorities and if people build a civil society that upholds and respects the law.

Those who have fled or been displaced by the recent violent conflicts must be allowed to return safely to their home regions, Deiss said.

The talks in Geneva are part of the South-Eastern Europe Stability Pact, which was launched on July 30 at a European Union summit in Sarajevo.

The pact process, led by German diplomat Bodo Hombach (right), is divided into three areas – economic, security and human rights – all of which have working groups.

Switzerland is hosting the talks on pro-democracy reforms and human rights. The discussions are co-hosted by Deiss and Max van der Stoel (centre), Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The general thrust of the pact is to encourage cooperation between the various countries in the region, namely by opening up the prospect of better integration into Europe.

The European Union and the United Nations have said repeatedly that real peace can come to the Balkans only if all countries – including those like Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia indirectly affected by the fighting of the past decade – are brought into the peace effort.

From staff and wire reports.

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