18. April 2007
Transnationale Demokratie ist eine Voraussetzung dafür, dass die
Märkte, die Wirtschaft, im Interesse der Menschen
zivilisiert werden können
Read the whole report
Andreas GROSS, Schweiz, SOC
Der Kern der Menschenrechte ist die Würde. Es gibt keine höherwertige
Existenz, ohne dass ein Mensch über sich selber verfügen kann. Deshalb ist
auch die Demokratie ein Menschenrecht und nicht ein Privileg irgendwelcher
Staatsbürger. Es gibt keine würdige Existenz ohne die Möglichkeit des
aufrechten Ganges, und man kann nicht aufrecht gehen, wenn man nicht das
Recht hat, über sich selber zu verfügen.
Die Demokratie ist aber mehr als ein Menschenrecht. Sie ist ein Mosaik aus
Tausenden einzelner Stücke, die erst zusammen die Qualität von Demokratie
ausmachen. Und es ist eigenartig wie wir, obwohl wir hier in einem Haus der
Demokratie sind, in der Geschichte Kriterien zur Beurteilung der
Menschenrechte entwickelt haben, aber bisher fast keine Kriterien zur
Beurteilung der Demokratie, die über die Menschenrechte hinausgeht.
Ich möchte ganz offen sagen, dass ich manchmal denke, wir sind kein Haus der
Demokratie, sondern ein Krankenhaus der Demokratie! Das wäre eigentlich gar
nicht schlimm, denn wir müssen alle klüger und gesünder werden, und auch der
Präsident schreibt in seinem Vorwort: «Demokratie ist ein ewiger
Lernprozess». Aber man muss sich dessen auch bewusst sein, dass man noch
nicht so ganz gesund ist, sondern gesünder werden kann. Und an dieser
Selbstkritik hapert es meines Erachtens manchmal.
Es gibt hier niemanden, der nicht von sich sagen würde, er sei ein Demokrat.
Wenn wir jedoch zu Hause bei den Bürgern nachfragen (und dieser Bericht ist
sehr aus der Sicht der Bürger geschrieben, denn die Qualität der Demokratie
entscheidet sich aus der Sicht der Bürger, nicht aus der Sicht gewählter
Repräsentanten der Bürger und der Zivilgesellschaft), dann gibt es fast
keinen, der nicht von der Qualität unserer Demokratie enttäuscht ist.
Es ist eines der drei größten Paradoxa der heutigen Zeit, dass noch nie so
viele Menschen in einer Demokratie gelebt haben, dass gleichzeitig aber kaum
jemals so viele von der Demokratie enttäuscht waren. Ein anderes Paradoxon
ist die Tatsache, dass die Demokratie, seit sie sich als einzige Quelle
legitimer politischer Macht durchgesetzt hat, was erst vor etwa 16 Jahren
endgültig und universell geschehen ist, und seit kein Politiker mehr sagt,
er sei kein Demokrat, seltsam schwach und ihre Krisenhaftigkeit deutlich
Um sich dies bewusst zu machen, muss man an die Wurzeln zurück, und dies
sind in der modernen Gesellschaft eindeutig die Amerikanische und die
Französische Revolution, die viel miteinander zu tun hatten. Z.B. gab es mit
Thomas Paine und Condorcet demokratie-orientierte Akteure in beiden Revolutionen, und die
Menschenrechtserklärung des französischen Volkes war der erste Referenztext
für die Demokratie.
Wenn man dort nachschaut, was eigentlich mit Demokratie gemeint ist, dann
sieht man, dass Demokratie viel mehr bedeutet als die alle vier Jahre
stattfindende Wahl zwischen Politikern, zwischen Pepsi Cola und Coca Cola.
Freiheit ist viel mehr als die Wahl zwischen Eliten. Demokratie und Freiheit
bedeuten, dass wir zusammen auf unsere eigenen Lebensgrundlagen Einfluss
Demokratie stellt die Rechte, Verfahren und Institutionen zur Verfügung,
damit die notwendigerweise erfolgenden Konflikte möglichst ohne Gewalt
ausgetragen werden können. Und wann immer Gewalt auftritt, ob ausdrücklich
oder versteckt, dann stimmt etwas mit der Demokratie nicht. Das ist ein
untrügliches Zeichen für die Qualität von Demokratie.
Demokratische Macht ist die Fähigkeit, das Recht und der Wille, mit anderen
zusammen auf die eigene Existenz Einfluss zu nehmen. Leben ist kein
Schicksal, das war auch der große Slogan der Französischen Revolution. Und
die Repräsentanz, d.h. die Wahl jener, die wie wir das Volk im Parlament
vertreten, war nur eine Krücke zur Realisierung der Demokratie, nicht ihr
einziger Bestandteil. Dass dieses System heute als das einzige gesehen wird,
ist eines der großen Probleme und Krisenphänomene der Demokratie.
Das ist das zweite große Paradox: Wie die schöne britische Zeitschrift "The
Economist" – keine linke Zeitschrift, wie Sie wissen – gesagt hat, war die
Repräsentation vor 200 Jahren ganz sicher das Wichtigste, weil damals viele
Menschen nicht lesen und schreiben konnten, nicht ausreichend informiert
waren, um über ihr eigenes Leben bestimmen zu können. Auch heute sind
Repräsentanten immer noch nötig, das ist absolut richtig.
Doch heute ist der Unterschied zwischen einem Repräsentierten und einem
Repräsentanten praktisch gleich Null. Es gibt sogar viele Bürgerinnen und
Bürger, die in gewissen Elementen unserer Gesellschaft besser Bescheid
wissen als wir. Und das ist das zweite Paradox, welches die Frustration über
die Demokratie ausmacht, von der ich am Anfang gesprochen habe. Es gibt in
der Gesellschaft einen Überschuss an Fähigkeiten, an Know-how, der von den
Institutionen nicht wahrgenommen wird.
Die demokratischen Institutionen erlauben es der Gesellschaft nicht, ihr
eigenes Potenzial zu realisieren. Und dies frustriert viele Menschen, weil
sie viel mehr tun könnten, als nur Repräsentanten zu wählen. Deshalb ist
eine Perspektive des Berichtes die, dass wir über die Wahlen hinaus zu Hause
auf allen Ebenen – national, regional und lokal – die verbindlichen
partizipativen Rechte der Menschen erweitern müssen. Über die Wahl hinaus,
nicht gegen die Wahl, aber die Wahl ist nicht das einzige Moment des
Freiseins. Wir sind nicht nur am Sonntag, wenn wir wählen gehen, frei,
sondern auch werktags und vier Jahre lang jeden Tag.
Und das dritte große Paradox, welches die Krisenhaftigkeit der Demokratie
heute deutlich macht ist folgendes: Demokratie ist viel mehr als ein
Zählrahmen, viel mehr als Rechte und Verfahren; Demokratie ist auch ein
Versprechen, dass Lebenschancen gleich verteilt werden, dass keiner zu kurz
kommt, wie es Herr Glesener von der Sozialen Kommission gesagt hat. Damit
dies jedoch möglich ist, müssen Demokratie und Wirtschaft auf der gleichen
Heute gleicht die Demokratie dem Steuerruder eines Schiffes, das so kurz
ist, dass es nicht mehr ins Wasser reicht. Da gibt es Leute, die sagen, dann
könne man das Steuerruder ja gleich auf den Misthaufen der Geschichte
werfen, doch andere Leute sagen, das Steuerruder müsse verlängert werden.
Deshalb ist die transnationale Demokratie als Voraussetzung dafür, dass die
Märkte, die Wirtschaft, im Interesse der Menschen zivilisiert werden können,
Denn Demokratie steht auch für die Vertretung des Allgemeininteresses, des
Allgemeingutes, und das müssen wir auch als zweite Perspektive sehen.
Wir müssen Europa demokratisieren. Europa hat die Demokratie genauso nötig
wie die Demokratie Europa nötig hat. Und wenn wir beides tun, nämlich zu
Hause verfeinern und national erweitern, dann können wir zu Hause und im
Europarat dafür sorgen, dass die Demokratie den Weg aus der Krise findet und
wir das Vertrauen der Menschen, die heute kein Vertrauen mehr in uns haben
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Skard.
I now invite Mr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, Vice-President of the European
Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), to make a
statement. The Venice Commission is one of the various prestigious
institutions of the Council of Europe.
Mr Bonnici, you have the floor.
Mr BONNICI (Vice-President of the European Commission for Democracy through
Law). – Thank you, Mr President. I am honoured to be asked to represent the
Venice Commission and to speak to you today. I was impressed by the analysis
of Mr Gross in his speech this morning, as I was with the contribution of Mr
Pourgourides. I speak as a former politician – I was in parliament for
thirty years – and I am now a member of the Venice Commission, examining the
various institutions and considering what can be done to remedy the present
situation. We have now arrived in Europe at a formal complete victory for
democracy. In some way or other, however, we are all dissatisfied with the
performance. That is the problem: in 1932, when I was born, Germany was a
democracy, and the result of that was not only the failure of democracy in
Germany but a cataclysm in Europe. We should consider whether we can
overhaul the institutions of today and remedy certain problems.
First, with regard to the rule of law, laws alone do not make a democracy;
one must have something else – good laws. I am happy that I am a member of
the Venice Commission, because that is what the Venice Commission is
concerned with. The achievement of the Council of Europe is mostly in law:
in the Convention on Human Rights and in the Court of Human Rights. The
Venice Commission is also in the tradition of considering laws and how they
That part of Europe that is in the European Union has still not resolved the
problem of its constitution. Other institutions also need to be considered.
Is parliament, its procedures and the way in which it works conducive to
participation by the people? Are those who watch a parliamentary debate, as
our friends in the public gallery are doing now, enamoured of the workings
of democracy? What are electoral laws producing? According to Mr Gross’s
analysis, representation and the quota system – 5% or 2% – is a problem. On
the other hand, we have the problem of governance and the forming of
coalitions after elections: what do citizens think when they see that
laborious process take place in many European countries? Can we have fuller
representation as well as an executive that has power?
Another problem with our laws and arrangements, as Mr Gross said this
morning – I repeat his point with qualification – is that we still approach
our democracy as if we were dealing with an electorate who have a primary
school education, whereas the electorate today are much more sophisticated
than that. Another, higher system is necessary. I must also tell Mr Davis
that the Venice Commission has considered the point about surveillance of
security forces. My whole argument is for better laws and better democracy.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. We now open the speaker’s list in the debate.
I remind members that the Assembly agreed on Monday that speaking times
should be limited to three minutes, except for spokespersons of political
groups. I call Mr Mota Amaral who speaks on behalf of the Group of the European
People’s Party. You have four minutes.
Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal). – It is customary to greet and thank the
rapporteur at the beginning of each speech. I gladly abide to that
tradition, as I recognise the high level of competence, political wisdom and
dedication to the purposes of our Assembly and the Council of Europe
demonstrated by our Swiss colleague, Mr Andreas Gross.
I also consider it mandatory in this case to compliment you, Mr President –
on behalf of myself and of my political group, the European People’s Party,
over which you have presided so brilliantly previously – on this debate,
which is an important achievement of your presidency.
We tend to feel comfortable about human rights, parliamentary democracy and
the rule of law in Council of Europe member states, which are considered to
be the trademarks of freedom and democracy. They denote an outstanding
victory of the citizens of Europe, which could be designated the European
political model. The success of civil liberties across our continent is the
glory of the Council of Europe, which, in its conventions and institutions,
remains a beacon of enlightenment and reason and an example and symbol for
the whole world.
Only countries organised as democracies can become members of the Council of
Europe. Democracy, along with human rights, has proved to be an evolving and
therefore demanding concept. In these times of mass education, economic and
technological progress and the globalisation of information, markets and
society, democracy is no longer simply a form for organising political
society based on the guarantee of civil liberties and regular, free and fair
We are all seriously concerned about the quality of democracy. Civic
participation, social inclusion, gender equality, transparency,
accountability, and the prevention of and fight against corruption became
the top priorities in a balanced judgment on the type of democracy existing
in every society. The purpose of Andreas Gross’s report is to identify the
requirement for excellence of democracy in Europe, including in the old
member states of the Council of Europe.
For both political scientists and political leaders in Europe considering
the functioning of our democracies, red lights are flashing. A large number
of citizens do not vote or participate in political parties. Demagoguery and
populism became serious threats to democracy and are generally associated
with terrible prejudices, which have plagued our societies in the past.
Measures must be taken with wisdom and determination to heal the illnesses
identified in Europe’s democracies. A new, younger face must be presented to
our fellow citizens across the continent that is capable of motivating them,
enthusing them and even inspiring passion. On behalf of myself and my
political group, I strongly support Andreas Gross’s suggestions. We have
challenging homework to do, in this Chamber and in our national parliaments,
in the next few years. We must commit ourselves and our best energies to
that mission, which is genuinely worth while.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Hancock to speak on behalf of the
Alliance of Democrats and Liberals in Europe.
Mr HANCOCK (United Kingdom). – As others have done, I congratulate the
rapporteurs and others who have contributed on the success of today’s voyage
of discovery by the Council of Europe in considering itself, its record on
human rights and now its record on democracy.
What has been sadly missing from both the reports and booklets produced is a
sense of how we have systematically allowed many of our supposed democracies
simply to drift into being managed democracies. They are not political
democracies in the true sense of the word. They are about politicians who
are elected and then want to manage. It is because they like to manage that
they trust themselves with more and more power, and that makes it very
difficult for the process of democracy to work. The very people who have the
power create the environment in which that is the only way.
The report claims to identify four reasons why we have that problem: the
democratic deficit; corruption and the absence of trust between the public
and politicians; suffrage and disenfranchisement; and non-governmental
organisations and their roles in trying to create an environment in which
people can understand what is going on. We kid ourselves that that is
happening, yet the report offers only management solutions. The authors have
fallen into the trap of wanting to manage.
If democracy is to flourish, it has to be about political ideas and
thoughts, about providing platforms for people, about encouraging the
population to take part in elections, about having an enthusiasm for a
belief and the realisation that things can be better. People do not want
always to be managed. They want to be excited, to be given opportunities and
to see that there is at least a small prospect of something in their lives
All four problems are clearly associated with politicians. The remedy is
in the hands of politicians. I trust the rapporteur’s opinion and listen to
him keenly on many subjects, but he has also fallen into the trap. The
report states: «The Assembly notes, with great concern, the increasing
feeling of political discontent and disaffection among citizens, which is
well illustrated by a declining turnout at elections».
People do not vote because the choices are not there; they get so much of
the same. In Britain there has been a merging of belief which has made it
unbelievably difficult for people to see the difference between parties. We
go from Conservative to Labour and Labour to Conservative seamlessly, as if
nothing has happened. That is not political change. Why should people vote
for the same thing? They might as well stick with what they have, and that
is what most politicians insist on and hope will happen. Some rig the
results. Of course, some try to do so and get the wrong result, and that is
when the real trouble starts.
If we are to have a real debate, it must be about why politicians chose not
to provide people with deliverable choices. They do not provide a challenge;
they do not excite the population. This is not about the young and the old.
It is about the whole community having no reason to vote. In our country,
most people participate in elections reluctantly in order to vote against
what they have. They do not vote for a better choice, because on paper that
choice is not there. The politicians have not bothered to think it through
and present a choice to the people. Lack of choice – that is what is wrong
with democracy in Europe.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Wilshire, who speaks on behalf of the
European Democratic Group.
Mr WILSHIRE (United Kingdom). – The European Democratic Group fully supports
the whole process in which we are involved. We congratulate you, Mr
President, on making it possible. It is an important initiative. We have
given ourselves a difficult challenge. It is a good first attempt, but as
always, there are lessons to be learned when embarking on something as
difficult as this. Perhaps we could have allowed more time – I do not know.
Perhaps the usual procedure for producing reports is not appropriate for
such a major undertaking.
Personally, I have hugely enjoyed being involved in the process. On behalf
of my group I congratulate Mr Gross and thank him for allowing me to be
involved as he wrote his report. The report has improved as it has been
worked on. I am sure that the rapporteur will accept that it is not perfect,
but it is an excellent start, on which we can build for the future.
I have learned a lot of lessons in this process, but time allows me to
mention only three. All three are controversial. I have come to the
conclusion that it is impossible to define democracy. We all know it when we
see it, but each society of the 47 member states has its own definition.
There are so many variables: geography, history, the state of development of
the country, culture and, perhaps most important of all, the way in which
the values and beliefs shape democracy. I say this to you: beware of trying
to impose our definition on others – it is a dangerous idea.
The second lesson that I have learned is that the relationship between
democracy and human rights is very easy to misunderstand. Democracy itself,
in a simple way, is all about the transfer and exercise of power via a
majority of citizens voting for it. All too easily, that can become a
dictatorship of the majority. Human rights exist to speak up for and protect
individuals and minorities. Human rights are a counter-balance to democracy
and not its partner. I have reached the conclusion that we should beware of
human rights undermining democracy. It could happen.
The third lesson that I have learned is that democracy is constantly
changing and developing. The democracy that we know today developed
alongside the development of the nation state in the nineteenth century. By
the end of the 20th century, the nation state was in decline and other
things were taking its place. Could it be that democracy is declining as
well? Is that one reason why the public are going off what we know?
I end by saying again: beware of believing that 20th century democracy is
adequate for the 21st century. Beware of the work that we do that simply
tries to maintain the status quo and our own positions, but undermines the
democracy in which we so passionately believe.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Kox, who speaks on behalf of the Group
of the Unified European Left.
Mr KOX (Netherlands). – On behalf of my group I thank colleagues in the
Assembly and particularly President van der Linden and our staff who have
worked so hard to make the debate possible. They have done a great job. I
also thank our guest speakers who have participated in this debate on what
is, and always should be, our core business at the Council of Europe: the
protection of human rights and the promotion and development of democracy in
As Rapporteur Gross rightly states, democracy is an open and ongoing
process. We should be proud that Europe was able to create democracy, to
develop it and to return from dark periods of authoritarian rule, fascism
and other forms of undemocratic government in our recent past. The fact that
democracy is an open and ongoing process means that there is always the
possibility of a decrease in it – of a growth of authoritarian behaviour
among governments and politicians. Therefore, we must always be alert.
If democracy is government by and for the people, it is the people who have
to guard it and oppose any violation of democratic rights. For members of my
group, that means that we should plead for the promotion, protection and
ongoing development of democracy, not only in this Assembly but at home. We
must demand a further exploration and development of democracy in all fields
of society. An example is the development of real democracy in the economy.
It is important to recognise that democracy has made huge progress in recent
decades in the spheres of politics and of private relations, but in the
economic sphere democracy has lost power in the past quarter of a century.
Instead of the principle of one person, one vote ruling the political and
the private sphere, the economy in Europe is increasingly ruled by the
principle of one euro, one vote. Our group would like to emphasise that and
have it included in next year’s debate on the state of human rights and
Democracy as an ongoing process also means including the protection of our
environment. Without a healthy environment, we will not have anything,
democracy or otherwise. I believe Rapporteur Gross agrees with our group
that this aspect should receive greater emphasis in next year’s report.
Because democracy means government by and for the people, it is extremely
dangerous to see a decrease in people’s involvement in politics and
democracy. We should do our utmost to find new means of increasing the
involvement of the people in democracy. Democracy without people is like an
Assembly without members – it is unthinkable, impossible and unacceptable.
We agree with Andreas Gross that democracy is an ongoing process from which
much is still to be gained, but if and when democracy fails, we will be the
ones to blame. We must realise that.
Democracy can and will be our future if we protect and promote it now. My
group feels a deep commitment to democracy and will do its utmost to get
this excellent report on to the order of business of our national
parliaments. It would be great if other groups could deliver that same
commitment. In our opinion the debate does not end today. It merely begins.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Lloyd, who will speak on behalf of the
Mr LLOYD (United Kingdom). – Thank you, Mr President, and may I congratulate
you on the debate taking place? I was one of those who voiced concerns about
how the process would work out, but our concerns proved to be unfounded and
those who, like you, wanted us to pursue this course were right. Today is a
good day for the Council of Europe.
We frequently use the mantra of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Our colleague from the Venice Commission was right to say that many of our
real achievements are in the area of the rule of law. We should be grateful
for those non-corrupt institutions, where they exist, such as the Venice
Commission, which can offer profound and sensible advice on how we move
forward. We can be proud of the body of legislation that exists throughout
Europe through the various conventions that have come into force, which make
a material difference to people’s way of life, protecting minorities and
protecting the vulnerable in our societies. Those are the people who need
the rule of law, because democracy of itself will not protect their basic
We can be proud of those steps. We should perhaps be less proud of the
extent to which we have embedded the culture of democracy throughout our
continent. In my own country and in many other European countries, rates of
participation in our elections are dismally low. That is extremely dangerous
because democracy works only if people participate. Democracy is not about
the election every four or five years of dictators or monarchs. Democracy
works only if power is widely distributed throughout society and if people
participate in the use of that power at different levels.
I agree with the previous speaker, Mr Kox, that we have a long way to go to
entrench democracy in our societies. I come from a trade union background
and I am very proud of the long tradition of democracy in the British trade
unions. I do not see that in trade unions everywhere, and even in my own
country I see it coming under threat now. Democracy is not just about the
ballot for members of parliament or the president. Democracy is about how we
live our daily lives.
I did not agree with everything that Mr Hancock said, but he was right about
the management of democracy. We see in some of the newer members of the
Council of Europe, such as Russia and Azerbaijan, which we discussed
yesterday, that the authorities there seek to control the things that make
democracy work. They seek that control as a way of managing those societies,
not in the interests of the proper entrenchment of democracy and the opening
up to pluralism in those societies.
The reduction in the power of the media is important. It matters enormously
when we see journalists killed in this continent of ours, whether they are
killed in Ireland by the IRA or in Russia, like Anna Politkovskaïa, by
people unknown. It ought to concern us when nobody is brought before the
courts when they attack journalists. An attack on the freedom of the media
is an attack on our democracy. Media freedom is central to the entrenchment
of democracy in our society.
We still have a long way to go on all this. Today is important not because
we have the finished article, but because, as you say, Mr President, this is
work in progress. We are only scratching the surface. We must begin to
develop measures of democracy. Yes, we do have a right as the Council of
Europe to interfere in the internal affairs of our member states – you who
are not from Britain in my country and me in yours, because democracy
matters to us all. We must establish the benchmarks whereby we can test the
robustness of electoral systems, not just in terms of the ability to submit
a clean ballot paper, but in terms of people’s ability to take control of
their politicians. That requires a genuinely pluralistic democracy which
protects majorities and minorities, and a society based on proper rules of
information and the media, where we can examine how far we progress or
regress. In many cases we are regressing.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. The next speaker is Mrs Durrieu.
Mrs DURRIEU (France) began by defining a democracy as a construction; a
deliberate attempt by citizens to create a shape for their society. A
democracy required laws that were recognised by the citizens. Individuals
within a democracy also had a duty to perform certain roles within their
society. These citizens must be informed and educated and in turn be given
rights. She defined one of these key rights as the choice to select a
government through elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
The process created under the Council of Europe and the Venice Convention
was helping to ensure that these rights continued. The 1950s’ Convention on
Human Rights was an important element in this, but it should also be
remembered that it must be applied universally to every individual. She gave
an example of the abolition of capitol punishment as one success in this
field but also warned that member states and the Council of Europe must
remain vigilant if such developments were to continue.
(Mr Schreiner, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr
van der Linden.)
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I now call Mr Legendre.
Mr LEGENDRE (France) said that today’s debate was a credit to the Assembly.
Children now were hardly aware of what had caused the Second World War.
Therefore, fundamental rights needed to be constantly re-presented and
re-developed. Sometimes, the press and media were called the fourth estate.
The first Republic of France established freedom of expression as a
fundamental right, and the law of 1960 afforded both liberty and the means
to limit excesses in pre-established circumstances. The threat of terrorism
should not be allowed to limit these values. Instead, freedom of expression
should be available for all. Together with UNESCO, attempts were being made
to secure intercultural dialogue, and the Council of Europe needed to play
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I now call Mr Rafael Huseynov.
Mr R. HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan). – Saying nice words about democracy and being a
true democrat are different things. Demanding that others respect democracy
and trying directly to apply democracy in reality are also different things.
The tree of democracy grows not as a result of slogans but as a result of
As an organisation safeguarding democratic values, the Council of Europe
should pay more attention, and give more care, to the countries that need
assistance with democratic reform. No double standards are acceptable in
that approach. We sometimes fight until the end to restore the rights of
several people while ignoring the thousands of people who live in the same
environment but who are subject to injustice. We do not fight for their
There is an example of that not too far away. Azerbaijan has been subject to
occupation. Nearly 1 million citizens of Azerbaijan have lost their homes,
wealth, health, comfort and the opportunity for a normal education because
they have been forced to live as refugees and internally displaced persons.
This process has been going on before the eyes of the world and of the
Council of Europe for fifteen years. Azerbaijan is the only country in such
The Council of Europe has launched many efforts to solve this problem and
still continues its activities. Nevertheless, if there is no resolution to
the problem and if 1 million people continue to live as refugees and IDPs –
the instigator of their problems is among us and in the Council of Europe –
we will not be entitled to speak loudly of democracy and human rights. We
should bear in mind that those 1 million people do not believe in the
sincerity of the words that they hear.
For that reason, all of us – and the Council of Europe, which unites us –
should do our best to get down to business and to move away from mere words.
A joint fight involving all the member states is one of the most effective
means of doing that. Those, such as Armenia, who are in the Council of
Europe but who do not observe the principles of this Organisation should be
subject not only to oral reproach but to economic and other types of
pressure from member states.
If we are going in the same direction, let us communicate with each other.
If we are to engage in co-operation and partnership, let us do so in
democratic, economic and other spheres and let the Council of Europe
co-ordinate our efforts. The possibility of keeping out those who violate
the rules in a big way should always be on the agenda.
Today I have the big desire that the many sweet words said about democracy
should not remain in the reports but should come true. If that is the case,
the life of all of us will certainly become better.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. Mr Islami is not here, so I now
call Mr Nessa.
Mr NESSA (Italy) said that the Council of Europe had played a major role
defining the Europe’s democratic model since its establishment in 1949 with
particular efforts being made in 1989 following the collapse of the
communist system and the emergence of a number of fledgling states. It fell
to the Council of Europe to find the right set of tools to monitor the
democratic process. It was important to take geo-political realities into
account, and to remain flexible in judgement. Democracy should not be seen
as a forced process run to a political timetable but should take account of
people’s differences. The Council of Europe and the Assembly could assist
both new countries in their path towards democracy as well as more
established countries in consolidation of their democratic structures. The
observation of elections was an important tool in ensuring that democracy
was applied properly and should not be used as a last resort. Democracy
could not be achieved by force.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I now call Mr Chelemendik. He is
not present. I call Mr Kucheida. He is not present either. I call Mr
Matuši?. He is not here; the place is deserted. I call Mrs Tevdoradze. We
are not in luck this afternoon. I call Mr Milo. Not here? I call Mr Wach.
Mr WACH (Poland). – Democracy is one of our greatest assets. This belief has
been expressed here in this hemicycle many times. We, the citizens of
Poland, longed for freedom and democracy for a long time, because for nearly
200 years, with the short exception of twenty years between the First and
Second World Wars, we were deprived of it.
The very successful, wide and strong social and political movement of
solidarity in the 1980s brought back freedom and enabled the development of
democracy in Poland and other neighbouring countries that were ruled by
communist regimes, at the head of which stood the Soviet Union and its local
partners. However, now comes the time to review the state of democracy, and
it would be best if everybody did this in his own name and the name of his
or her party and country.
Generally, we are proud and happy with the democracy in our country, and we
owe it so much, but it is far from ideal. First, the participation rates in
the elections are low, as one group of people is disappointed with the
functioning of democracy while another group is too nonchalant to fulfil its
duties. The other problem is the passing of a law by parliament that does
not fulfil democratic standards. Here I have in mind the so-called
Lustration Act concerning alleged co-operation with secret services in
communist times, which requires individual declarations of co-operation or
lack of such activities under the threat of losing a position or a job. In
my opinion, the Act is going too far, as it concerns not only politicians
and governmental officials, but, for example, widely known academic staff.
This Act requires the above-mentioned declarations from more than half a
million people in Poland. The next problem of democracy in my country is the
limited social education of people, which appears, for example, in the
potential acceptance of the reintroduction of the death penalty.
Those are only examples. Democracy needs constant concern, care, tradition,
education and good practices. I wish unchallenged democracy in written law
and in practice for my country as well as in all other countries, and
excellent leadership in these fields from the Council of Europe and our
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Korobeynikov.
Mr KOROBEYNIKOV (Russian Federation) thought that the report of the
Committee on Economic Affairs and Development was excellent. Although there
were more than 300 economic organisations, the nature of what was happening
was a disaster for many countries. World trade amounted to around $7
trillion, most of which constituted trade exchanges between the richest
countries. This needed to be changed, but none of the international
financial institutions did much to assist the financial participation of
less-developed countries. It was not enough to be able to vote every four
years. People needed to eat every day. Therefore, the Council of Europe
needed to strengthen the standards of living across the whole of Europe.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mrs Err. She is not here. I
call Mr Lindblad.
Mr LINDBLAD (Sweden). – Thank you, Mr President.
Colleagues, do you have any ideas? Do you have any ideology? Or do we wake
up every morning just trying to steer the boat, not knowing where we are
going? I think that there is too little ideology and passion in political
debate these days. We need more passion. We had a little passion in one of
yesterday’s debates, about the Court and the issue of one country not
nominating a woman. Otherwise, there is too little passion in the
discussions in this Hemicycle, as well as in our national parliaments.
Personally, I am a passionate liberal conservative, and I am very much into
being passionate and discussing ideology. In talking about that, I must also
say that the process regarding this report has been very good. Indeed, it is
a very good report, Mr Gross, and I congratulate you on it. We have had a
lot of compromises; for example, we had a compromise on the threshold in the
Political Affairs Committee this afternoon, although it is not an issue of
consensus. The consensus principle, which was mentioned by Mr Roth earlier
in the debate, is difficult. Consensus is like a wet blanket, taking away
all debate and the possibility of voting when we disagree. All of us
parliamentarians are used to voting when we disagree. If we do not get our
way, we will try another time and there will be other votes. The Council of
Europe’s Committee of Ministers has a bad habit, however – I agree with Mr
Roth on this – of using consensus too much. We must be very careful, or
consensus will lead away from democracy instead of promoting it. Colleagues,
do not be afraid about that.
We cannot be sailors without a compass. Some people have some iron in their
pockets, so their compass is simply going round and round. We need a strict
compass so that we can promote democracy. We need to promote ideals, even
though they may vary, and then we will vote and decide.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you, Mr Lindblad. I call Mrs
Had?iahmetovi?. She is not here, so I call Mr Symonenko.
Mr SYMONENKO (Ukraine) said the report showed that, in the third millennium,
threats to democracy, such as child labour, were still under discussion. The
President of Ukraine had violated the constitution and the rights of the
Ukrainian people. There could not be democracy in Ukraine when there was
such a difference between the rich and the poor – of such a significant
order of magnitude – and the rights of the poor were ignored. In many
countries, democracy was ephemeral because people’s rights to work were not
protected, people were forced to migrate illegally in order to seek work.
Poor migrants had so little protection and old democracies in Europe
benefited from these illegal migrants; this was in fact a new form of
Politics had double standards, and this was a threat to democracy that
needed to be monitored. More demands needed to be made of the leaders of
those countries where poverty threatened stability.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Tilson from Canada,
which is an observer country.
Mr TILSON (Observer from Canada). – Allow me to begin by commending the
Assembly on initiating an annual debate on the state of human rights and
democracy in Europe. The Council of Europe has made impressive strides in
the implementation of democratic standards in the European continent.
Canada shares with the Assembly a deep commitment to implementing democratic
principles and to finding solutions to the key challenges confronting
democratic governance today. Canadians believe that governments – whatever
the country or culture – should be accountable to their citizens. In the
long term, democratic systems provide the most effective guarantees of
accountability, human rights, stability and prosperity. Our government has
identified democracy as one of four core values that guide Canadian foreign
policy, along with freedom, human rights and the rule of law.
The Canadian Parliament has launched a major study to explore how we can
improve our support for democratic development. In the meantime, we have
already begun to intensify our diplomatic and development efforts in support
of new and fragile democracies, and to oppose serious violations of
democratic rights in other contexts. For example, our government has taken a
strong stance in response to violations of democratic principles in
countries such Burma and Belarus.
We have asserted the importance of the promotion of democracy and human
rights in our aid policy. Support for democratic governance from the
Canadian International Development Agency totalled about Can$ 375 million
last year. This included major investments to assist Afghanis and Haitians
in building functioning democratic states. It also included grants to the
Council of Europe to support judicial system reform and prison reform
projects in Bosnia and Serbia, and the development of an independent and
efficient judicial system in Kosovo.
One key principle that emerged from recent discussions in Canada is the
importance of a demand-driven approach to democracy assistance, in which the
recipients solicit and manage support for democratic reform. This principle
has already shaped Canada’s involvement in Europe. Ukraine is a key example
of our approach to supporting democracy, in which we have endeavoured to
support national actors directly, while also working through existing
regional organisations, including the Organization for Security and
Co-operation in Europe, to uphold commitments to democratic principles. Our
involvement in this area in Europe – bilaterally and through the OSCE, the
Council of Europe and other organisations – has given Canadian
parliamentarians and officials an appreciation of the importance of the
Council and its Assembly in defending and strengthening democratic
governance in the continent.
Once again, let me commend the Assembly on your initiative in organising
today’s debate, and congratulate the rapporteurs on their work.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you, Mr Tilson. I now call Mr Iwi?ski.
Mr IWI?SKI (Poland). – I congratulate everybody concerned on holding for the
first time such a crucial debate on the state of human rights and democracy
in Europe. As the Italians say, «Meglio tardi che mai» – better late than
never. I hope that we will continue the present discussion on an annual
basis. We cannot do without it – otherwise, the Council of Europe could be
marginalised. Democracy and human rights are of course closely interlinked,
so it is proper that the forthcoming meeting in Sweden of the Forum on the
Future of Democracy, as a follow-up to the Warsaw and Moscow meetings, will
be devoted to the interdependence of both the above-mentioned phenomena.
Mr Gross’s courageous, versatile and non-schematic report can be
characterised in a positive sense, in that it takes both a scientific and a
practical approach. I entirely agree with the findings and explanations of
our Swiss colleagues. Yes, democracy is a basic human right and a necessary
precondition for political power to be legitimate and accepted by citizens.
Yes, democracy is an open and never-ending process, and we should establish
concrete criteria to evaluate its maturity, and more deeply examine the
application of democratic standards.
Are any of us here fully satisfied with the state of democracy in her or his
country? I do not think so – neither in western or eastern Europe, nor in
even Scandinavian or Benelux countries – and unfortunately not even in
Poland, despite significant progress in this field in the previous two
decades. At the same time, only last week in my motherland, the centre-left
forces were able to block an extremely dangerous attempt to change the
constitution that aimed at significantly limiting women’s rights, mainly
Overcoming the increasing number of democratic deficits is a must,
especially from the point of view of the average citizen, as is improving
the quality of representative democracy. We need to avoid distortion of the
generally important political role that the media play – a role that has
been particularly visible in the past in, for example, Italy and Slovakia.
We cannot be passive in view of the autocratic tendencies flourishing in so
many places. I am thinking not only of those considered “black holes” in our
continent; the same point also applies to the so-called demokraturas.
We ought also to improve the functioning of basic institutions and existing
procedures, and to increase the level of political culture, which is the
crux of the matter, as, theoretically, everyone agrees on the principles of
On the approach to national minorities, the situation is a dynamic one. Who
could have imagined years ago that Poles would today be the biggest national
minority in both Ireland and Iceland? Like every other minority, of course,
they need their rights properly defended. I therefore support both the
rapporteur’s proposals in chapter 14 that would further democratise
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mrs Jaz?owiecka.
Mrs JAZ?OWIECKA (Poland). – After fifty years of fundamental acts of
democratisation, today, towards the end of the first decade of the 21st
century, we are discussing anxiously democracy and the state of human rights
in Europe. That fact alone should induce reflection. What has happened to
the enthusiasm and hope of not so long ago? Where are the ideals and values
towards which we thought that the world was heading? What is the reason for
We are heading in an unexpected direction. One of the most important reasons
for that is terrorism and the war against it. What is at the root of the
problem? It is the repressive character of political systems, especially in
Arab countries, but also the social exclusion that affects Muslim emigrants
We should pay attention to western society’s methods of fighting terrorism.
In the name of security, certain principles have been abandoned. Secret
prisons have appeared, kidnappings by secret investigation services have
taken place, people have been held prisoner without honest legal
proceedings, and the presumption of innocence and the right to an adequate
defence have also been questioned. Illegal wire tapping and surveillance
have taken place. Most of these have had the general approval of society. It
is time to ask the question: where are we heading? Did not the experiences
of the 21st century teach us anything?
In the eastern part of our continent, the Council of Europe is constantly
monitoring the situation in Belarus and attempts to liberalise the regime.
But what about the situation in Chechnya? Why do we so rarely ask about
Russia? Should we only seek better economic contacts in pursuit of oil and
gas, and turn a blind eye to what happens in that country? Are Russians and
Chechnyans worse people than western Europeans? It is time to finish with
this hypocrisy. In terms of democracy and human rights, a country’s
“internal affairs” or “specific culture” are irrelevant. Each man has the
right to live in a dignified way, and not to be held prisoner illegally or
killed just because he has a different appearance, different views or comes
from another country. Human rights cannot be sold for oil. If we do not
prevent those in power in some countries from conducting reprisals and
persecutions, how will we be able to look our children in the eyes?
Dear colleagues, I appeal to you not to be indifferent or to turn a blind
eye to human tragedy in return for short-term profits. Let us propagate
democracy and human rights and fight for their observance, so that the 21st
century brings common peace and welfare.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – I call Mr Kosachev.
Mr KOSACHEV (Russian Federation) thanked the President and said that, when
talking about the state of democracy in Europe, people were really talking
about the rights of people to rule themselves. There were still black holes
in Europe in terms of basic principles of democracy. For example, in Kosovo,
a large proportion of the population had been forced out of their country.
They had lost their rights to participate in elections and achieve
representation for themselves. Kosovo would not be a democratic place until
the Serbs were allowed to return. In Estonia and Latvia, people were denied
citizenship and therefore prevented from engaging in democratic processes;
if allowed to vote, the people might vote against those in power. In
Estonia, the government had sought to move a memorial to those who had given
their lives in the fight against fascism. This might not have been
successful had all migrants had the right to vote. The approach of the
Estonian Government to the Russian people and all those who had fought
against fascism was appalling.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Riester to speak.
Mr RIESTER (Germany) said the debate was very important and reflected the
issues at the heart of the Council of Europe. He was pleased that the report
recognised the tensions that existed between democratic and human rights
issues. There were different historical, social and economic processes which
influenced the situation. Five years before the formation of the Council of
Europe, Germany was under a fascist dictatorship. Other countries
represented at the Council of Europe had maintained colonies in Africa and
Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. Others had only recently emerged from socialist
regimes. Thus, all countries had a different starting point.
He would like to emphasise that differences did exist between member states
within the Council of Europe and that these differences should be
acknowledged before any accusations are made.
He concluded that Europe and the United States of America were no longer the
only predominant forces in world government and that, as new players emerge,
the Council of Europe should influence the development democratic
institutions within these nations.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Lipi?ski.
Mr LIPI?SKI (Poland) began on the theme of multiculturalism and multilingual
families and called for more support in this area. He recognised that
Multilingual Day on 26 September 2001 was an important step towards this.
He stated that equal status should exist between all the languages within a
multilingual family and gave as an example the situation in Germany – in
particular, the situation with a number of Polish families in Germany that
had Polish as their first language. He stated that in such families, where
the parents had separated, the children were being encouraged by the German
Government to adopt German as their principle language. He then referred to
a report from the German Government that had suggested that bilingualism may
be detrimental to a child’s development.
He concluded that the rights for both parents to contribute to their
children’s education must be maintained.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Gülçiçek.
Mr G&UUML;LÇIÇEK (Turkey) commended the rapporteurs for their comprehensive
report. He said that members of the Council of Europe were concerned with
human and economic rights and that they should continue to defend the rights
of those less able to defend themselves.
He referred to the issues of intolerance, terrorism and xenophobia and noted
that there were difficulties in dealing with these. As concepts hostile to
democracy, they should always be tackled.
He moved on to highlight his concerns about young people’s participation in
the democratic system and again stated that this was something the Council
of Europe should be prepared to act on.
In closing, Mr Gülçiçek called for these issues to be tackled in all
countries. Balanced representation was important to everyone and must be
developed where it did not exist; and maintained where it did.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you. I call Mr Berényi.
Mr BERÉNYI (Slovakia). – I would like to withdraw my request to speak. I
give the floor to another speaker.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you, Mr Berényi. In that case, I call
Mr Szabó from Hungary. He is not here, so I call Mr Kozma, who is also from
Hungary. I do not see him in the Chamber. Therefore, the last speaker will
be Mr Prorokovi? from Serbia.
Mr PROROKOVI? (Serbia). – I take this opportunity to draw colleagues’
attention to several problems that we face today, some of which were
recognised by Mr Gross in his excellent report. What are the problems facing
democracy today? First, an imbalance between economy and democracy has
caused important decisions increasingly to be adopted outside parliament
under the influence of various values or lobby groups. Secondly, citizens
are starting to have doubts about democracy because they do not believe that
important decisions are taken in parliament and also because they feel
distant from politicians and unable to influence the decisions that
The third problem is one of perception. There is often an enormous
difference in perception between the international institutions that make
the decisions and the national states to which those decisions refer.
Consequently, the means which are considered to be a form of assistance in
Strasbourg are perceived in the target country as a form of pressure. The
desire expressed in Strasbourg to stimulate countries to step up their
reforms has unfortunately led to the establishment of extreme movements in
those countries. The people living in those countries feel under pressure to
change their customs, traditions, way of life and rhythm of life.
The fourth problem is the implementation of double standards by the
international institutions. That undermines trust in international
organisations and in international order in general. I had the opportunity
to meet a distinguished German politician and I asked his opinion on Iran.
His position on the issue was simple. He believed that Ahmadinejad had
realised that if Milošovi? had had nuclear weapons, NATO would never have
bombed Serbia. That is the reason that he started to develop nuclear
weapons. He recognised that to be the best method of protection. The problem
is the fact that it was also accepted by a number of dictatorial regimes all
around the world. Where will it all end? We must keep insisting on respect
for international law and international order. We must not apply double
standards, create gaps in perception or mistrust in democracy, or allow key
decisions affecting our citizens to be made outside our existing
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). – Thank you.
I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the
speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able
to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the official
report. I call Mr Gross, Rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee, to reply.
You have four minutes.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland). – It is true that the report is not perfect and that
it is only a beginning. It should be seen as a base for learning.
The best suggestion was the one from Mr Kox, that we should take the reports
to our home parliaments and discuss them in the relevant committees. We
should learn from them when we come back for next year’s report. If I
prepare the report for next year, I will stress what Mr Riester said. We
should show the different conditions and different positions that applied
when we started to learn to become better democrats. That would enable us to
understand each other better. Often, part of the dialogue is missing. People
provoked others but they did not react, and still others were provoked. Even
in our Hemicycle, a dialogue is not always successful.
I must criticise one of the guest speakers, but I will do it in the spirit
of Mr Fellini, who was quoted yesterday by the Prime Minister of Ukraine. He
said that happiness is criticising someone without hurting them. I am not
sure whether that is possible with respect to the representative from
Amnesty, but coming here and saying that this is the first time that anyone
is representing civil society is a reflection of the biggest crisis of
democracy. We represent our civil societies. The NGO is another way of
representing the same people, but we do not need NGOs to represent civil
society. We acknowledge them and we are open to them as partners because
they are another way of representing civil society, but we do not have to
undermine our own representation in order to do that.
I thank Mr Wilshire for his co-operation, but we must be clear that whenever
power is used, it must have democratic legitimacy. That is true in the 21st
century and the 22nd century. The way we achieve that may have to change,
but not the aim. The nation state cannot guarantee democracy any more but
that is not a reason to give up democracy. It is an incentive to enlarge
democracy on a transnational, continental and global level.
THE PRESIDENT (Translation). –Thank you.
The debate is closed.
I remind members that the votes on the draft resolution in Document 11214
and the addendum and six amendments will take place after the summing up by
the rapporteurs and chairpersons on the three main committees.
I think that we have most of our complement of rapporteurs and chairmen, but
Mr Ate? is not with us at the moment. Does anybody know whether he is due to
join us? In any case, we now come to the summing up of the three debates.
To conclude the debates today, I will now call on the rapporteurs and
chairmen of the three main committees. I will the call the rapporteur and
chairman of each committee in the order of the debate.
I call first Mr Pourgourides, rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs
and Human rights. You have four minutes.
Mr POURGOURIDES (Cyprus). – I have already spoken twice, and I think that
speaking for a third time in this debate would not serve any useful purpose.
I would like to grant my time to the president of our committee, who has
done an excellent job in supporting us throughout the period of doing this
work. At this stage, I think that he will be in a position to say more
useful things than I would say after having taken the floor twice this
THE PRESIDENT. – Your words are always very welcome to us, Mr Pourgourides,
but your courtesy is also appreciated. Mr Marty, if you were to use Mr
Pourgourides’ four minutes instead of your two, that would be acceptable to
Mr MARTY (Switzerland) thanked the chairmen and rapporteurs who had made the
debate possible. He said that at this stage he did not have much to add, and
just wanted to outline a few ideas. The debate was very important and
fundamental, but there was a risk that all concerned thought they had done
their bit. The debate had meaning only if it spurred member states on to
uphold the values of the Council of Europe with more resolve.
In other words, members needed to turn words into deeds. They were under an
obligation to pay attention to serious issues such as those faced by the
European Court of Human Rights; an important institution which the Assembly
had brought into being and which therefore should be given sufficient
resources to operate effectively. The Assembly should concentrate on its
core business – it needed to be much more inclusive in terms of its links to
the Committee of Ministers. It was true that there had been a deafening
silence from the Committee of Ministers on the subject.
Mr Marty urged those present to act when they saw erosions of human rights
in their own countries, particularly when implemented in the name of the
fight against terrorism. The energy released in the debate needed to be
harnessed in order to take the fight forward.
(Mr van der Linden, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Gross, Rapporteur of the Political
Affairs Committee. You have four minutes.
Mr GROSS (Switzerland). – I want to thank you, Mr President, for insisting
last September that we have this debate; you did indeed have to convince
some of us to have it. I was ready to do have it, but I had to invest about
ten days between Christmas and early February in preparing for it. I would
like to thank Mrs Nachillo for her help; it was a unique and worthwhile
experience. We should follow the advice of Mr Kox and take these reports to
our home countries and committees and discuss them there, so that others can
learn that what we are doing is important for them, too.
I turn to an issue that I was a little disappointed that we did not speak
more about. If we want to overcome the crisis of democracy, we have to think
about constituting democracy on a transnational level. Constitutions do not
build states – they legitimise democratic power on any level at which such
power is handled. Some might think that revolutionary, but it is just old
stuff. This Assembly was founded by those who wanted to make it a
constitution-making body for the 10 founding members of the Council of
Europe. Fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, which prevented
democracy-building in the west, as well, we come back to the old rules. We
want better democracy in the west, the east and at a transnational level,
and it is very important to remind ourselves of the need to achieve that.
I hope that we will not forget the original criteria for judging, evaluating
and assessing our democracies. There is a gap that we need to fill, because
although human rights are developed conceptually, democracy is
under-developed. There are too many elite persons in the scientific
community who, although they have power and position, are no longer
interested in sharing their power with the people. As many colleagues have
said, democracy is the sharing of power with the people, and we must do
that. We cannot chose people but people can choose politicians, and they
will choose different ones if we do not fulfill these obligations. Between
now and the next report and debate, we must work to produce an even better
report that will help even more in our daily work in our own countries.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Ate?, Chair of the Political Affairs
Committee. You have two minutes.
Mr ATE? (Turkey). – The beautiful book that you have in your hands, Mr
President, was not produced easily. The Political Affairs Committee has
confronted many difficulties, one of which was choosing the methodology for
this excellent report. Another even more difficult task was defining
democracy. What is democracy? The third hard question that we had to deal
with was how to strengthen democracy. Any political affairs committee
anywhere could easily fail to answer these questions. Fourthly, we had to
avoid writing yet another academic textbook on democracy. Nobody wants to
read another scientific, academic textbook on that subject. However, one has
to be an academic in order to write a book such as this. Fortunately, this
Political Affairs Committee and this Chamber have politicians who are also
academics. One such person is Mr Gross, and I want to thank him for his
We tried to find answers to those questions, and the rapporteur of the
Political Affairs Committee viewed the problems associated with democracy
through the eyes of the citizens. That was very important, because the
committee agreed that the citizens are the only source of legitimate
political power. We strongly believe that democratic politics should be all
about people’s interests. Our report took the citizens as its central
reference point. Our rapporteur, Andreas Gross, was absolutely correct to
follow this methodology, and the excellent book that you have in your hands,
Mr President, is proof of that.
I want to thank all our rapporteurs, chairpersons and the secretariat.
Putting all the various elements was another difficult job, and I should
also thank Mrs Dinsdale in this regard. It was a very painful job. A
democracy is a living organism. It is not possible to write a report saying
that we solved everything; the situation changes. Different communities
require different things at different times, so we must do such work
periodically. However, we must also allow more time for the discussion of
the adoption of such reports. The experience of this report will probably
give us a better final outcome.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I now call Mr Lintner, Rapporteur and
Chairperson of the Monitoring Committee. You have four minutes.
Mr LINTNER (Germany) acknowledged his previous opportunity to make comments
in the light of the debate and promised to be brief. He was pleased at the
number of people who had underscored the message that monitoring meant
dialogue rather than criticism. Much progress had been achieved as a result
of personal dialogue over extended periods of time. He advocated this
approach, which took both personal conviction and integrity, and thanked
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Lintner. The debate is now closed.