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25 November, 1999
Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that the protection of and respect for existing borders and the human rights of residents within these borders had to have the same weight as the need to protect minority rights.
"We aim for and want the security of borders, the respect for borders as well as the respect and ensuring of the human rights of those residents, just as we work within the same framework for (the rights of) minorities," Mr. Papandreou told a foreign ministry conference.
He pointed to the abuse of human rights on Cyprus, saying that diplomacy had dealt with the Cyprus issue with a double standard. Speakers at the seminar underlined that the efforts of governments to secure human rights around the world at times concealed other interests.
The two-day conference, entitled 'Human Rights in the Third Millennium', is being held at the foreign ministry's auditorium and is organized by the Andreas Lentakis Foundation for Culture and Education.
Mr. Papandreou also said the government was fully supportive of the increasingly important role of non-governmental organizations in international developments.
Speaking at the conference, Danielle Mitterrand said that talk of human rights was being confused by the infringements of these by the very people who present themselves as protectors.
States are creating their own mechanisms purportedly for the protection of human rights, which are then systematically ignored, she said.
She cited Turkey as an example, saying it bought weapons which it then used against its own population.
"We cannot consider ourselves to be good when an entire people is being massacred," she said in reference to the recent crisis in Yugoslavia.
"Just as the people of Serbia were protesting against their dictator (Milosevic), international forces took the situation into their own hands," she added.
Citing her late husband Francois Mitterrand, she said that he believed that when peoples were left to decide their own fates without foreign intervention, the result was positive.
The president of the Greek branch of Amnesty International, Dimitris Papaioannou, condemned what he called the "hypocrisy of governments and the mass media" in relation to human rights.
"This hypocrisy is evident if anyone looks at how issues such as Kosovo and Chechnya are being dealt with," he said.
National and religious minorities will be discussed during Thursday's session of the conference. Guest speaker will be the president of Turkey's Human Rights Association, Akin Birdal.
Source: Athens News Agency