PACE President Tiny Kox has reminded Council of Europe leaders of the pledges they made at the Reykjavik Summit a few months ago to uphold the principles of democracy – and expressed his conviction that these principles, if properly applied, can help to prevent war.
Speaking at the opening session of this year’s World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg on the theme “democracy untended”, the President recalled the origins of the Council of Europe three-quarters of a century ago, when its founders judged that democracy was the best way to promote peace and protect the prosperity of Europeans.
“Peace and democracy were considered as two sides of the same coin – and, after the Second World War, it was considered the only viable option,” he pointed out. “We thought that peace could and would depend on a system of democratic security – and yet war has returned to Europe. […] The idea that democracy would protect us against war – at this moment – does not really pay.”
However, the President went on to list the most important of the key principles formulated at the Reykjavik Summit – freedom of expression, independent institutions, impartial judges, fighting corruption, engaging citizens in democratic processes – and expressed his conviction that these principles “do protect us against wars. This is not a matter of theory, it is a matter of reality.”