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Council of Europe offers its experience in building democratic security to Med countries

Leading figures from Croatia and the Council of Europe have pledged new ways to help build “democratic security” in the Mediterranean and North Africa at a major parliamentary conference in Dubrovnik which focused on shared values.

The conference was organised by PACE’s Political Affairs Committee, in co-operation with the “South III” Programme, in the framework of the Croatian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe. It brought together leading Croatian VIPs with the heads of a number of Council of Europe monitoring bodies, and parliamentarians from the Middle East and North Africa.

Opening the conference, PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier recalled that the Assembly had led the policy of opening towards neighbouring regions, in particular the Mediterranean, by sharing experience in the fields of democracy, human dignity and fundamental rights, as well as the rule of law. “Developing a system of governance which is firmly anchored in these values – this is what we call promoting democratic security, in particular in the framework of the Partnership for Democracy,” she said.

For his part, Croatian Speaker Gordan Jandroković pointed out peace, stability and security in the Mediterranean region were vitally important for Europe. “Our continent is stable and safe inasmuch as are the neighbouring countries, and hence the need of Europe to support its neighbourhood,” he said.

Croatian Vice-President and Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović-Burić, who is currently chairing the Council of Europe’s ministerial body, stressed that sustainable peace requires an integrated approach based on coherence between political, security, development, human rights and rule of law activities, with particular emphasis on the gender dimension of peace processes and conflict resolution.

“It is our strong belief that co-operation with civil society can help create a social climate that is not conducive to the dissemination and strengthening of violent extremism and terrorism, especially co-operation in the promotion of tolerance, human rights, the rule of law, democracy, good management, and inter-religious dialogue”, she said.

“Democracy cannot be imposed, imported or exported,“ said George Loucaides (Cyprus, UEL), leading a delegation from PACE’s Political Affairs Committee. “Nor is there a given or superior democratic model that can be replicated by the rest of the world. Democracy is achieved and its content determined through the free will of the people, the citizens of each country. Our duty as PACE therefore, and Europe as a whole, is to encourage and support the democratic steps and achievements that people from Mediterranean countries have made […]. It is an illusion to think that democracy can instantly deliver remedies to all illnesses. But democracy is the only way forward,” he added.

Other leading figures from the Council of Europe – including its Deputy Secretary General and the heads of its anti-corruption body GRECO, its legal expert body the Venice Commission and its counter-terrorism committee – also explained in detail how the Council’s work contributed to democratic security in the region.