ROME, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Representatives of 17 European Union (EU) countries have signed a declaration condemning racism and urging greater action to promote diversity across the union, as they gathered in Italy's capital Rome on Monday.
The meeting was originated by condemnation of the "unacceptable" stream of racist insults directed at Italy's Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, the country's first black minister, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Joelle Milquet, who promoted the initiative, was quoted as saying by local media.
The declaration said that politicians have a "particular responsibility" to show the way in contrasting "racism, xenophobia and gender discrimination" and called on them to be determined in this fight both through words and acts.
Speaking after representatives from countries including Britain, France and Malta signed the declaration, Kyenge thanked her counterparts for the "strong and important response" to the insults directed at her since she was appointed minister in April.
However, she added that this issue was not just about her, as it has to do with "attitudes that are resurfacing everywhere." "Our message today is that we want to reaffirm a culture of solidarity and values within the EU, and we must do so also in view of the European elections," she said.
Kyenge, an eye doctor and Italian citizen originally from Democratic Republic of Congo, has been the target of several distasteful comments and racist attacks by members of the Northern League regionalist party.
One party member called Kyenge an "orangutan" while another one posted on a social network an invitation to "rape" her so she would know what it feels like to be a victim of crime. In one of the latest racist attacks, bananas were thrown at the minister while she was making a speech last July.