Foreign Affairs
Human Rights

Buzek's speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean

Rome -
Friday, March 4, 2011

Please find below the speech delivered today by the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean in Rome:

"Dear Presidents,
Dear Ministers,
Dear Colleagues,
Dear Friends,

I take great pleasure in being here in Rome with you today. Like in 1989, the wind of democratic change is blowing in the European neighbourhood. It is an historic opportunity for our Euro-Mediterranean Assembly to revive its original mission and to assert its ambition.

Who we are

We are the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean. It is certainly a long phrase but it states clearly that all of us here collectively represent the Mediterranean citizens.
We can be proud of being the only forum where representatives of the peoples of the shores of the Mediterranean meet and discuss as part of one and only assembly. We do not greet each other as mere neighbours but as relatives, members of the same Mediterranean family.

Our common region is changing for ever. I feel like history is repeating itself after what I experienced in Poland in 1989. We have to embrace the democratic changes without any hesitation. Ordinary citizens have made extraordinary efforts to make a first decisive step on the long road to true democracy. I applaud their courage and determination.

What we stand for

We, parliamentarians, know the fundamental role of a Parliament in a democracy. A representative and empowered Parliament should represent its citizens' interests. It is our obligation to ensure that all governments serve the people.

Democracy is not only about how the majority rules, but also about how the minorities are protected. The heart of a democracy is its people; its voice must be its Parliament. When Parliaments are not functioning, the people take to the streets to have their demands heard.

I was struck by one of the slogans chanted on Tahrir Square: "Bread, freedom, and human dignity". It is a loud and clear cry. Those of us who lived in totalitarian regimes remember that social and economic demands go hand in hand with calls for fundamental rights. Yes indeed, there is no social justice without democracy.

What we call for

I would like to share today with you an ambition. We, parliamentarians, have to show the way towards a renewed Euro-Mediterranean partnership, of the people, by the people and for the people. There is no real stability without a true community of values.

We all know that there are different kinds of democratic models. Each country has to look for its own path and at its own pace. Yet, we all share common values: respect of the individual and respect of diversity, individual freedom and national solidarity.

Here, I want to clearly state that the Union of the Mediterranean has to make real progress that would allow for more economic and financial integration, creating empowering job opportunities especially for all the unemployed young people. Important projects for our peoples are still only on paper; they have to be implemented. We know in Europe that only concrete achievements can create solidarity between the peoples.

Dear Colleagues,

Let us have the boldness to share the same vision of a democratic and generous Mediterranean so that we can keep our people in peace and prosperity.

Thank you."

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Bureau declaration - Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean - 4 March 2011

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