BRUSSELS, 1st February, 2016 (WAM) – – “The migration crisis is forcing us all to have the courage of our convictions. We have to stand together to uphold our values, also in difficult times. Europeans and newcomers must respect and embrace European values,” the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands has said ahead of a conference on European values convened by the Netherlands in Strasbourg on Tuesday 2nd February.

Bert Koenders said that the refugee crisis “is asking us Europeans how we can combine openness and freedom with hospitality. People who seek refuge here have a right to expect their fundamental rights to be safe. But we can also expect them to embrace our European values. How tolerant must or may recipient countries be?”

He said that an open and frank discussion is more urgent than ever before. The Netherlands is organising the seminar for more than 100 representatives of the EU member states, institutions and organisations, and civil society organisations. They will debate how institutions, public authorities, societies and migrants can together shoulder responsibility for our common European values.

Mr. Koenders will deliver the opening statement at the conference, which will be followed by a key-note speech by the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland.

Panel discussions will be held with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, and the Director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O’ Flaherty.