Greetings from the Special Representative of the European Union for Central Asia, Ambassador Terhi HakalДек 05.2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
it is a pleasure for me to address you – guests and participants - of the 15th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Bishkek.
This festival offers a unique opportunity to discuss different aspects of human rights and do so through the lens of art and artistic expression.
To quote a well-known German-American philosopher, Herbert Marcuse (/mɑːrˈkuːzə/):
- “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness and drives of the men and women who could change the world.”
In this spirit, the festival shows documentary films from different parts of the world.
Through the eyes of filmmakers and their heroes, we see that despite their differences, people can unite based on the values of humanity.
And at the same time, the festival offers an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of vulnerable groups – migrants, boys and girls, women, ethnic minorities.
But good art often leaves you with a question, not an answer.
So it is important that the festival also provides a possibility to be involved in discussions about justice, good governance, the rights and obligations of citizens, about civic culture.
Unfortunately, we cannot ignore that this festival takes place in difficult times.
Many challenges have arisen or become worse over the past pandemic year.
We are all too well aware of the impacts the COVID 19 has had on human rights, exacerbating many inequalities that already existed all over the world.
Formal and informal measures implemented in response to the pandemic have undermined fundamental rights and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognised by all countries.
That is why it is important for the EU to work with all partners - governmental and non-governmental - to promote the universal values we share.
The EU Human Rights Action Plan 2020-2024 is an illustration of the EU’s strong commitment.
Gender equality and empowering youth will remain high on the EU agenda.
We also need to adjust to our changing world. For us that means
- increased action on economic, social and cultural rights,
- greater focus on business and human rights,
- more emphasis on the links between human rights and the environment,
- maximising the benefits of digital technologies and minimising their risks, as well as
- further action on the protection and empowerment of human rights defenders.
We see a concrete co-relation between rule of law and respect for human rights on the one hand and resilience and prosperity of societies on the other.
This includes the ability to deal with internal and external shocks, disruptions caused by crises such as COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking at the challenges mentioned, some say that the human rights message is fading. But I would say that especially in difficult time, reaffirming the central value and importance of human rights is fundamental.
And one way to let this message resonate is to experience it through art.
To end I would like to quote in Russian the words of one of the greatest Kyrgyz writers Chingiz Aitmatov. «Цель искусства, не в том, чтобы «пугать» человека, но помогать человеку побеждать отчаяние и страх перед жизнью, пробуждать в его душе великие чувства, испытывая которые он сможет противостоять «злу», какие бы формы и обличья оно ни принимало».
I hope this festival will help you create a vision of hope to address key human rights challenges as we come out of the COVID pandemic.