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Xenophobic violence addressed in meetings

VIENNA, May 5 (UPI) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe concluded two days of meetings Tuesday designed to address ways to combat violent hate crimes.

The meetings, led by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, were in response to a growing trend of incidents in Europe involving xenophobic violence and other hate crimes, the OSCE reported.

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One reason for the increase in xenophobic violence in the region has been linked to the strains associated with the global economic downturn, and Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, ODIHR director, said minorities can become scapegoats.

Officials said the meetings brought together more than 130 experts and government officials to address the surge in hate crimes and prevent retaliations from minority populations.

"The OSCE participating states have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to combat crimes motivated by racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance," Lenarcic said in a statement.

"While these commitments are important, the true test is whether they lead to results on the ground."

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