Thank you, Chair.

I am honoured to speak here at the Forum for the Advisory Committee, which monitors the
implementation of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities.

This Convention is based on the premise that when States protect the rights of minorities within their
borders, then society will be better off, and a source of conflicts will be removed.

The Framework Convention focuses on protecting rights in times of peace. A key mission of the
Advisory Committee is to identify warning signs of conflict that may affect minorities, and recommend
actions the State can take to help resolve issues rapidly, and prevent conflict.

When conflicts do occur, minorities are among the most vulnerable members of the population. They
may be perceived as representatives of their “kin-states” and suspected of disloyalty to their own
country. If they have supported the authorities, which protected them in times of peace, they may be
seen as traitors by those who oppose the authorities. They may also simply be caught in the crossfire
between opposing parties.

There is no doubt that minority rights remain applicable in times of conflict. The key question is how to
maintain effective access to those rights – above all, the right to personal security.

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