15 September 2008
ADDRESS AT THE DEBATE DEDICATED TO THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON DEMOCRACY, ADOPTED IN 1997 BY THE INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION
Distinguished fellow parliamentarians,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Democracy is a universally recognised ideal and a goal, which is based on common values shared by peoples throughout the world community irrespective of cultural, political, social and economic differences. It is thus a basic right of citizenship to be exercised under conditions of freedom, equality, transparency and responsibility, with due respect for the plurality of views, and in the interest of the polity.
Democracy is both an ideal to be pursued and a mode of government to be applied according to modalities which reflect the diversity of experiences and cultural particularities without derogating from internationally recognised principles, norms and standards. It is thus a constantly perfected and always perfectible state or condition whose progress will depend upon a variety of political, social, economic, and cultural factors.
These are the first two articles of the Universal Declaration on Democracy that the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted in 1997 - a document whose principles are today a basis upon which every country should be built if it is to be called democratic. Unfortunately, we are witnesses that these principles are either not applied or are violated in many countries in the world - a look in the Freedom House reports provide an obvious picture.
The marking of this day both in our country and throughout the world provides contribution to the implementation of democracy as a universal and indivisible category.
Today the principles of this Declaration are a foundation of international relations, in particular its Articles 24, 25, 26 and 27. Unfortunately, these principles are very often violated in international relations. Would Macedonia have the imposed name dispute if these principles were respected?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The first multi-party parliamentary elections in the Republic of Macedonia and the adoption of the Constitution have established the basis and normative framework for the implementation and functioning of democracy. If we compare ourselves to the parliamentary democracies in Great Britain or France, we have not even come of age yet. And I do not mention this in order to find "excuses", but rather to stress that democracy is a continuously developing and enhancing process. Still, over the past 17 years, we have managed to establish the basic principles and norms that characterize us as a democratic country.
Allow me to remind that if our country has been recognized to have fulfilled all criteria for NATO membership, if it is a candidate country for full EU membership, then it is clear that the Republic of Macedonia is a democratic state.
In that sense, you will agree that the Parliament is the institution where the different interests are best articulated and the principles of democracy respected.
Over the past 17 years, all parliamentary terms have given their contribution in the development and implementation of democracy. Today we can with satisfaction emphasise that the Assembly has established broad and fruitful cooperation with the non-governmental sector. For instance, this very event is organised together with the MOST NGO.
I also want to highlight that the adoption of the new Rules of Procedure, based on the twinning project with our Slovenian colleagues and the Wilton Park conclusions, has provided increased independence of the legislative branch vis-a-vis the executive, and has at the same time opened the possibility for increased cooperation and involvement of the non-governmental sector in the process of adoption of laws. With the help of the National Democratic Institute, we have opened and equipped constituency offices throughout the country, where the citizens can meet their MPs. In that way, easier and more efficient articulation has been ensured of the citizens' interests and concerns in the Assembly. I would mention here the National European Integration Council, an Assembly body which also includes members of the NGOs and other institutions, and which provides contribution in the development of democracy.
Transparency is one of the principles of democracy. I believe that in that sense, too, we have established European standards. Citizens are enabled to follow the plenary sessions and other activities at the Parliamentary TV Channel. All the documents, minutes and a series of other information about the work of the Assembly are available on our web site.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Democracy is a process in which accountability is equally important as are the rights. Therefore, when we speak about the level of democracy, we all have to ask ourselves about our responsibility in the implementation of the democratic principles. We often tend to be critical of the others, sometimes with an argument, but often without one, and without even slightest criticism of ourselves. Or to paraphrase the famous Kennedy's thought about our criticism of the level of democracy or violation of democratic principles - let us ask ourselves what we as individuals, parliamentarians or political parties have done for democracy or respect of democratic principles. I believe that this debate, as well as the whole series of events today will provide their contribution in the realisation of that responsibility without which there is no democracy.