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The values we stand for can defeat dictatorships, says PACE President

"For the Council of Europe the current events in the Arab world are of major importance - not only because they affect peace and security in the region and beyond; but also because of our deep historic and cultural links and our close inter-dependence," PACE President Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a current affairs debate of the Standing Committee in Paris on "Co-operation between the Council of Europe and emerging democracies in the Arab world" with the participation of Dominique Baudis, President of the Arab World Institute.

"The current revolutions are also a powerful proof that the values which the Council of Europe defends and promotes - human dignity and human rights, democracy and the rule of law - are universal and can empower even the weakest and most oppressed people as well as defeat even the strongest dictatorships," the PACE President continued. "The most important lesson to learn for us all is how much more dialogue and mutual understanding we need. Our debate in April on the inter-religious dimension of inter-cultural dialogue will be an important contribution to this. However, we need to bring dialogue and the exchange of ideas and experiences to a qualitatively new level," he stressed.

"If the reforms that countries such as Tunisia and Egypt have now undertaken are to be successful, these universal values that led the revolutions must continue to run like a red thread through everything that follows - the adoption of new constitutions, the organisation of free and fair elections, the building of genuinely democratic institutions, enhancing the role of the media and the civil society with more gender balance. In all these areas the Council of Europe has valuable expertise and we have already offered our assistance, for instance, to Tunisia. As for the Assembly, its newly created status of “Partner for democracy” for neighbouring states could be a precious tool to bring all those countries interested closer to our standards and principles. The Assembly, with its long-standing experience, would also be ready to organise the observation of elections in countries of the region," the PACE President concluded.

Finally, he urged participants to forget the traditional mentor attitude towards these countries "that are giving us a splendid lesson in dignity and courage".