The Seimas has held a Meeting of the Chairpersons of the Committees on Foreign Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union and the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy, Parliaments for democracy: towards more ambitious global cooperation, in the framework of parliamentary events of the Lithuania Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
In the second session of the Meeting, the participants shared their experience, discussed the development and consolidation of democracy, stressed gender equality and the importance for democracy of the policy of equal opportunities. The meeting was chaired by Emanuelis Zingeris, Member of the Seimas, Chair of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy.
Karim Ghellab, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Morocco, shared the experience of Morocco gained in building and strengthening democracy day by day. “The Arab and Muslim world is facing, since 2011, deep transformations in the aftermath of the protests, the movement originally initiated by the people, especially young people, demanding more freedom, more democracy, more social justice,” Mr Ghellab said. According to him, Morocco is writing a new page of its history, but in a way it is quite different from other countries in the region. The Speaker of the House of Representatives highlighted that Morocco realised earlier than others the need to implement the changes people were asking for. The Speaker said that the Constitution adopted by referendum in 2011 was a huge achievement. He assured the audience that Morocco managed to preserve peace, stability and economic growth.
Prof Vytautas Landsbergis, Chair of the Supreme Council – Reconstituent Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Member of the European Parliament, pointed out that not all countries shared the same understanding of democracy. “Democracy has developed as principles and rules adopted by societies or communities wishing to gain moral grounds for biological survival and growth, refusing egotist self-destruction,” Prof Landsbergis said. In his opinion, democracy and not justice should be called for in non-democratic states, and then justice will come. “Democracy is not a doctrine to be taught and learnt, but a sensibly educated human approach to everything and everybody around, including one’s own brothers and sisters of the same existential destiny. Democracy needs a sense of responsibility, search for the truth and willingness to search for proper answers in your heart. This is the only proper way,” Prof Landsbergis said. He also highlighted the historical importance of the Parliamentary Forum for Democracy.
Prof Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė, Member of the Seimas, Chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Group, Coordinator of the COSAC Women’s Forum, believes that democracy cannot exist without gender equality. “We are all well aware that gender equality is a human right and it should be equally respected, fostered and protected. However, reality is different,” she said.
While covering democracy and gender equality, Prof Pavilionienė noted that gender inequality was widely spread everywhere, including the EU. She stressed the problems of reproductive health, childcare services, family planning and contraception, lower salaries paid to women, and a low number of women in key management positions. However, Prof Pavilionienė considers gender equality to be a problem of men, not only women. “Both genders should be responsible for the future of the world and society, because we are all people with equal civil rights,” the Coordinator of the COSAC Women’s Forum said. In her opinion, it is high time we had a common European gender equality education system.
Rimas Rudaitis, Public Relations Unit, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail: [email protected]