VIENNA, Feb. 6, Reuter: Western nations attending the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) today tabled a detailed proposal affirming the rights of the individual to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.

The proposal was submitted by Italy and backed by 10 other Western nations.

These rights included freedom to adopt a religion or belief of a person’s choice, and “freedom, either individually or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest this religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, teaching and study,” the proposal said.

Italy’s CSCE delegation head Vieri Traxler told a news conference he hoped the “new era of democracy and transparency” proclaimed in the Soviet Union would allow the Soviet delegation and others to accede to the idea.

The proposal contains 14 paragraphs detailing behavior for the 35 CSCE participants all countries in Europe except Albania, plus the United States and Canada who are in Vienna following up 1975 CSCE undertakings on security, economic cooperation and human rights.

The proposal’s provisions include freedom to commune and travel for religious purposes, to import religious publications from abroad, and to train and appoint appropriate leaders.

The Vatican last week tabled a 10point proposal on the commitment of CSCE states to guaranteeing freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief. Its final paragraph called for “effective equality between believers and other citizens in all aspects of civil, economic, social and cultural life”.

Traxler said he looked forward to cooperation with likeminded delegates on the religious question.

In another proposal tabled today, the Soviet Union and East Germany suggested steps for “a significant activation” of scientific and technological cooperation between CSCE nations.

Adoption of the proposal would oblige CSCE countries “to take appropriate steps to increase the proportion of high technology products in the exchange of goods and to encourage the export and import of engineering services”.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 13, 1987