Opening the Round Table, ECTR President Dr. Moshe Kantor warned that social fragmentation combined with a disenfranchised population were a breeding ground for extremism in Europe. “Alongside the risk of social fragmentation, hosting majorities are disoriented and fearful of the scale and rate of social change. These tensions are fertile ground on which political extremism grows. The fears of both minority communities and host societies need to be properly addressed. Understanding the causes of the crises and their likely form is one of the most powerful political instincts you can develop.” Dr. Kantor said. The ECTR intends to support new thinking on how to make tolerance more secure and sustainable.
At the round table the ECTR has announced the €1 million ‘Kantor Prize For Secure Tolerance’. The prize will be awarded by ECTR leading panel of academic advisers, including philosopher John Gray and historian Antony Beevor. Dr. Moshe Kantor said the prize rewards “exceptional achievements in research and advance thinking on ‘Secure Tolerance’”, to promote progressive thinking to help Europeans act in advance of impending threats to their security and human rights.
Making a special welcome address at today’s event, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco reiterated his appreciation and support for the ECTR activities to promote a new concept of tolerance for Europe. ECTR Board Chairman, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair said it was “essential we don’t sit back and let extremism and intolerance become an accepted part of our public discourse”. “Co-existence is a vital universal value in a world where people of different cultures and religions mix, both on and offline, more than ever before […] freedom of speech must be protected. But people have a right to feel safe in their homes and communities,” he added.
Paying tribute to the announcement of the Kantor Prize for Secure Tolerance, the former British Prime Minister said it was “such a welcome initiative, as it seeks new ideas from leading thinkers to preserve and create free, open and pluralist societies”. Stressing the need to support thinking to make tolerance more secure and sustainable, Dr. Kantor argued that without clear and proactive “action to prevent these threats, the errors and disasters of the twentieth century could be repeated”.
Other speakers at the event included President of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights and Former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik, Former President of Latvia Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and EU Commissioner for Justice Franco Frattini, Former Foreign Affairs Minister of Serbia and Former President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic and Rachida Dati MEP, former French Minister of Justice.
The full agenda, list of participants and conference Reader are available for download here: