Home >
Our work >
Meetings >
Parliamentary Forum for Democracy held a Conference entitled with “The Role of Parliamentarians in Strengthening Democracy” in the United States Congress on September 18th, 2013 in Washington D.C.
back
September 18, 2013

Parliamentary Forum for Democracy held a Conference entitled with “The Role of Parliamentarians in Strengthening Democracy” in the United States Congress on September 18th, 2013 in Washington D.C.


Parliamentary Forum for Democracy held a Conference entitled with “The Role of Parliamentarians in Strengthening Democracy” in the United States Congress on September 18th, 2013 in Washington D.C. The Conference was organized in cooperation with the Lithuanian Embassy in the United States and in association with the U.S. partners - National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the European Parliament’s Liaison Office with the United States.

The Conference was attended by over 300 guests, including members of the U.S. Congress, members of Parliament from various countries, advocates for democracy, human rights and freedom, representatives of the diplomatic corps in Washington, DC and a delegation from Lithuania. This conference was the largest event of Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU in the U.S. Congress.

During the Conference, attendees discussed the urgent, ongoing events such as authoritarian regime expansion in Syria, and the deteriorative human rights situation in Cuba, Syria, and in other countries ruled by autocrats. All participants expressed their views with regards to issues related to the development and consolidation of democracy.

The Conference was opened by the Speaker of the U.S. Congress, John Boehner, who congratulated the initiative and enthusiasm of the members of the Forum. Chairman of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Vydas Gedvilas, appealed to the participants of the Conference to focus more on the Syrian issues and pointed out the imperative role of national parliaments to take responsibility. The Chairman also emphasized the importance of Lithuania's Presidency of the EU Council priorities - the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative. The first part of the Conference discussed how to assist the democracies in the Middle East. The Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ileana Ros – Lehtinen stated that “one of the major problems should be those „sensitive" countries which do not respect basic human rights. “ Mr. Irwin Cotler, the Member of the Canadian Parliament stressed that the Middle East cannot be applied to the “Western" model of democracy. According to him, the region should put special attention on minority groups and the “problematic„ countries, and it would be better to create an international task force.

Mario Diaz – Balart, the Member of the House of Representatives started the second session of the Conference. He noted that segregation is unacceptable in a democracy, access must be granted to all so that all the civilians could feel the benefits of democracy and would be more willing to fight for it. Argentinian MP Laura Alonso also expressed concerns about democratic developments in many countries, her worries that democratic standards have been decreasing in many countries, because the concept and perception of democracy may defer from country to country. According to Laura Alonso, the problem should be addressed on international level. Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez“ who was jailed for 17 years because of fighting for human rights and democracy in Cuba, also joined the Conference to share his valuable personal experience.

In the discussion about the Eastern Partnership, David Bakradze, the former Speaker and the Minority Leader in the Georgian Parliament as well as the presidential candidate in Georgia, expressed his concern that Georgia was not ready to be included in the European institutions, even though the people of the country consider themselves Europeans. Member of the European Parliament, Michal Kaminski, stated that democracy is a gift that must be shared. According to him, the Eastern Partnership seeks to promote stability throughout the region, but it requires political leadership and government initiatives. Michal Kaminski noted that the Russian government should understand that the active Eastern Partnership program is not directed against Russia, so that Russia should stop the use of pressure against the East, and especially against Lithuania.

back