Written Answers. - Conference for Security and Co-operation.


asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland will be represented at the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe at its meeting in April 1986; if the delegation will raise the issue of religious and or racial discrimination in the context of the conference; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Ireland, as one of the 35 states which participated in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, is represented at the meeting of experts on human contacts in the CSCE framework which opened in Berne on 15 April. The meeting, which will continue for six weeks, was preceded by a two-week preparatory meeting.

The purpose of the Berne meeting is to discuss the development of contacts among persons, institutions and organisations in the context of the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and the Madrid Concluding Document. These provisions are designed to facilitate the resolution of specific problems which arise because of restrictions imposed by some Governments of the movement of their citizens across frontiers. They cover the whole range of human contacts, including the reunification of families and marriage between citizens of different states, contacts and regular meetings on the basis of family ties, travel for personal or professional reasons, contacts and meetings between religious organisations, tourism, exchanges among young people and sporting contacts. The broader questions of religious and racial discrimination mentioned by the Deputy, which were already dealt with in detail at a CSCE meeting of experts on human rights in Ottawa in May-June 1985, are not covered by the mandate of the Berne meeting which focuses rather on specific measures aimed at solving problems in the areas I have mentioned. However, all of these questions will be considered again in a review of implementation of all the provisions of the Final Act and the Madrid Concluding Document at the next follow-up meeting of the conference which is scheduled to begin in November 1986 in Vienna.

At the Berne meeting the Irish delegation, together with our partners in the Twelve, will seek to ensure that a thorough examination takes place of the manner and extent to which the CSCE participating states have fulfilled their existing commitments in the area of human contacts. We will also make an active contribution to the exploration of possibilities for resolving the problems created by legislative and administrative restrictions which hinder the free movement of people across frontiers, including contacts and meetings between members of religious faiths, institutions and organisations. Among other improvements, we will be seeking to facilitate unimpeded access to postal communications. Our ultimate objective at Berne is to try to bring about concrete improvements in the lives of all those most directly affected by the divisions in Europe. We would wish to see a substantive outcome to the meeting in the form of a concluding document containing agreement on measures to improve implementation of the commitments already undertaken at Helsinki and Madrid.

Question No. 22 taken as oral.