Brussels 4 June 2015:
Former UK Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Tony Blair has been appointed Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), an international organisation based in Brussels that fights against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Mr. Blair succeeds Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former President of Poland, to head a distinguished board of former European presidents and prime ministers, including Jose María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain and Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, among others. One of the founding members of the ECTR was the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the principal figures leading transformation towards democracy in Central Europe.
Mr. Blair said “It is with great pleasure that I take on the honorary role of Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation.
“The work they are doing is crucial, because despite our best efforts to build a consensus around tolerance in Europe, we still see injustice, discrimination and hideous acts of violence on the continent.
“Incidents of extremism, rising anti-Semitism and surging Nationalist forces who seek to cultivate a spirit of resentment by playing on people’s fears, threaten our European ideals of freedom, equality and a desire for peace.
“But such intolerance has been rejected before in our history and must be rejected again today. The ECTR stands against such close-minded views – and I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with them to promote our shared vision for the future: societies based on an open-minded, inclusive and tolerant worldview.”
ECTR President Dr. Moshe Kantor said, “I welcome the appointment of Mr. Blair as ECTR Chairman. The dramatic rise of hate and intolerance in Europe demands a leader who has firsthand experience of fighting extremism, and a track record of peace and reconciliation. From the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, to humanitarian intervention in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, Mr. Blair has worked tirelessly to end conflict and build better societies.”
Dr. Kantor continued, “His experience will be invaluable in furthering ECTR projects, establishing new ones and promoting a broad coalition of tolerance movements across Europe.”
Among ECTR’s ongoing projects is the Model Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance. The Statute was designed to introduce legal parameters of tolerance across Europe, and has been introduced at the European Parliament and various national parliaments across
Europe. Its adoption by EU member states is key to ensuring the stability and security of a multicultural Europe.
The ECTR bestows an annual European Medal of Tolerance for exceptional achievements in the area of promoting tolerance and respect among people in Europe. In 2015, the Medal was awarded to footballer and anti-racism campaigner Samuel Eto’o and the FARE Network, a pan-European anti-racist organisation.
“In his role at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, it is clear that Mr. Blair has a strong commitment to the promotion of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue through practical education, which aligns very clearly with the ECTR’s mission and goals.” Dr. Kantor concluded, “His international reach will also allow the organisation to address globally the fight against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.”
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About the ECTR
The ECTR is an opinion-making and advisory body on international tolerance promotion, reconciliation and education, and fosters understanding and tolerance among peoples of various communities, educates towards techniques of reconciliation, facilitates post-conflict social apprehensions, monitors racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia and proposes pro-tolerance initiatives and legal solutions. Among its prominent members are Jose María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia and Rita Süssmuth, former Speaker of the German Bundestag.