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Statement by H.E. Mr. Margus Kolga, Permanent Representative of Estonia on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the High Level Debate on Promoting Tolerance and and Reconciliation and Countering Violent Extremism


Mister President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

 I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We thank the President of the General Assembly, the UN Secretary General and High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations for the opportunity to discuss the issue of tolerance and violent extremism. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania align themselves with the statements delivered by the European Union.

 Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are gravely concerned about the recent rise of radicalization and violent extremism which crosses state boundaries and poses a threat to countries far from conflict zones. Therefore, today’s discussion here at the General Assembly is most timely.


We are of the firm opinion that good governance, respect for human rights and promotion of tolerance within society are the best tools for prevention of violent conflicts and violent extremism. People should have different ways of expressing themselves and their opinion rather than resorting to violence. Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is unjustifiable regardless of the motivation.

 Mister President,

We need to actively shape inclusive societies as guarantees for peace and security, namely to the rule of law, if necessary, by designing particular policies and programmes that advance the inclusiveness of all. Strong adherence to the rule of law encourages sustainable development, as progress is best guaranteed by good governance, transparency of decision-making and minimization of corruption. Effective and accountable institutions are powerful enablers of inclusive societies. At the same time the preventative nature of strong and consistent rule of law institutions will lead to a reduction of the risk of further conflicts.

Tolerance is the underlying principle of human rights: we should respect all human beings regardless of their sex, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, political or other opinion, religion, sexual orientation or other status etc.

As to the concept of inclusive societies, I would like to stress the importance of including women and girls in the decision making processes.


Mister President,

As stated in the concept note of the event: of the world`s seven billion people, more than 5 billion identify themselves as members of religious communities. Sadly, as we know, religious background is often associated with the cause of violent conflicts and used as an excuse for violence. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania firmly believe that violent extremism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or civilization. No religion or cultural background should be used as an excuse or pretext for resorting to violence. Terrorism needs a global response. Only intensive, close and well-coordinated cooperation between nations and international organisations can bring results.


We have to urgently, as stated in the concept note, “counter the destructive narratives of extremists who thrive on simplistic explanations, mistrust and fragmentations”. In this regard, the religious leaders play a key role in preventing violent conflicts based on religion and belief and in explaining that respecting human rights and respecting the religion are not mutually exclusive but rather support each other. As pointed out by scholars, the Golden Rule, inherent to many different religions – “Don`t do others what you don`t want to be done to you” is also fully in accordance with the concept of human rights.

Mister President,


In order to minimize the threat of violent extremism, we must address the conditions conducive to its spreading. We can more effectively counter violent extremism by addressing it as a horizontal cross-cutting issue. Besides strengthening legal systems, reducing poverty and tackling the development-security nexus, allow me also to stress the importance of education: in fostering tolerant, inclusive societies, it is crucial to engage with young people.

In conclusion, our three states firmly believe that the UN plays an indispensable role as global forum for interaction between the nations of the world, between people with different cultural and religious backgrounds. We are looking forward to the discussions to follow.

Thank you very much, Mister President.


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