137th IPU Assembly
St. Petersburg, 14-18 October 2017
Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue
Address by Mr. Dumitru OPREA
Vice-President of the Romanian IPU Group
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me the greatest pleasure to address this honorable Assembly. In our world, so severely touched by hatred generated by religion and ethnicity is paramount to discuss the ways in which Parliaments can enhance dialogue, toleration and reduce social divide, both at national level and across cultures and countries.
Parliaments should be the mere reflection of the society, as well as forums that set example for the rest of the nation. This is why the promotion of an effective dialogue should start here.
After the last Romanian elections we have had in Romania, an Orthodox country, a President that is Lutheran and a vice-prime-minister that is Muslim.
The official language of the country is Romanian, but, in administration, the national minorities have the right to use their language. They can also learn in their native language, in public schools, at all levels of education, including the University.
There is an institutional framework that safeguards the rights of the minorities. I would name here the Department for Inter-ethnic relations, at the level of the Government, the National Council against Discrimination, an independent institution under parliamentary control, and the Ombudsman, which has a department dealing with minority issues.
Regarding their presence in the Parliament, I would like to stress that national minorities have their right to representation guaranteed by the Constitution.
These measures ensure, in my opinion, a fair representation of national minorities, as well as social peace.
The benefits of internal stability are complemented with external representation. The deputies of the national minorities are facilitating the dialogue of our Parliament with the Parliaments of other countries.
As a Parliament, we are also member of the International Assembly of Orthodoxy. But this is in no way preventing us in recognizing the Parliament as a laic forum with inter-faith members.
These are, of course, just a few examples on how a Parliament can ensure a fair representation of its ethnic and religious minorities. But, in our case, they proved very efficient. We do not have extremist groups or social unrest generated by ethnicity or religion. This is solid proof, in my opinion, of an effective dialogue.
Before concluding, I would like to make one last point. Our good results were generated by a long-term and substantive dialogue with the international and regional organizations specialized in human rights and in the protection of the rights of national minorities. I would mention here especially the Council of Europe and its two instruments for protecting the rights of national minorities, namely the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Romania is part of both normative acts.
To paraphrase the famous Russian literary titan Leo Tolstoy who said that “The sole meaning of live is to serve humanity”, I will say, in my turn, that the sole meaning of the IPU – as parliament of world parliaments – is to serve the world”.