In connection with the 129th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) organised in Geneva, Switzerland, from 7 to 9 October 2013, the Socialist International held its regular meeting of parliamentarians from the SI political family on 8 October.
The meeting was attended by parliamentarians from Angola, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, Ireland, Mauritius, Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Pakistan, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor Leste, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Zambia, and by a representative from the Global Fund.
The discussions focused firstly on a follow-up of the issues raised at the last meeting in Quito, Ecuador; secondly on recent developments in Syria and the Middle East; thirdly on the global economy and the impact of the recent developments in the US, as well as on a review of some national situations.
In relation to the matters discussed at the last meeting, the SI Secretary General, Luis Ayala, informed participants on the positive developments in Mali, where Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, leader of the SI member party RPM, had won the presidential elections on 11 August, opening the way to re-establish and strengthen democratic institutions, resolve politically the issues that had led to the rebellion in the North, and to put an end to the activities of groups that have used terror against the Malian population. In relation to Ghana, an issue also addressed at the last meeting, he reported that the Supreme Court had confirmed the validity of the presidential election results and the legitimate election of President John Dramani Mahama, leader of the SI member party NDC, underlining Ghana’s strong democratic credentials and putting an end to claims of irregularities by the opposition. In line with the continued commitment to the cause of imprisoned parliamentarians, journalists and intellectuals in Turkey, and as discussed at the last meeting, the SI Secretary General reported that the SI had closely followed the Ergenekon trial, which he had attended on behalf of the organisation to show support for the unjustly held prisoners and their right to a fair trial.
On recent developments in Syria, participants underlined that the continuous clashes and the displacement of people inside and outside Syria, as well as the fact that terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda were infiltrating the country, were aggravating the tense situation in the Middle East. During the lively debate, it was stressed that the international community had to live up to its commitments and while political discussion and action on the destruction of chemical weapons was necessary, the remaining crucial problems could not be put aside or forgotten. The regionalisation of the conflict had grave political, security and humanitarian consequences for neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, which were hardly able to cope with the influx of refugees fleeing the repression of the Syrian regime. Humanitarian relief was more necessary than ever in order to help the over two million refugees that were currently registered outside Syrian borders. There was broad agreement that a political, peaceful solution to the conflict had to be found. Imposed solutions would not be successful and a strategic global approach to the conflict had to be mapped out. The SI had an important contribution to make in this regard. Taking into account the latest developments in Iran, it was hoped that Iran could play a different role in the search for a negotiated solution in Syria. The SI Secretary General recalled that what had started as part of the ‘Arab Spring’ and had been a struggle for democracy, freedoms and rights had, over time, turned into an armed conflict in some countries. The SI had been very vocal on this issue on the basis that nothing but democracy will do. Participants stressed that the UN Security Council had to be involved in any decision that would have consequences on the ground affecting peace and security, and a political roadmap for the next steps to be taken had to be elaborated. Considering the urgency of the moment, the SI had decided to hold its next Council meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, with a view to addressing these pressing developments in the Middle East and North Africa, and to engage different actors from the region in order to contribute politically to a democratic solution and an end to the conflict.
On the theme of the global economy, given the present situation in the US and developments in other economies in the world, in Europe and in the emerging economies, global demand was likely to fall in the foreseeable future. In the long-run, more social democratic policies were needed to stimulate the economy and it was particularly important to drive home the message, especially on the international level, that austerity measures were hindering growth and the creation of jobs. In this multipolar world, there were today many different players with major influence, and these all had to be taken into account. The SI Secretary General explained that the SI had been very active on this subject, with a high-level Commission on the financial crisis which had come to the evident conclusion that the financial crisis was not caused by excessive public spending, nor by waste and inefficiencies in the public sector, neither by the cost of social security or people not working hard enough, but was the result of too little regulation of the world economy and deliberate high risk policies and actions which had led to the near collapse of the financial system. The SI’s position had been clearly expressed in favour of more investment in people and strategies for growth and the creation of jobs - these were our priorities. And in regard to developing economies, as we could see, in countries with democracy and good governance, the struggle against poverty and for growth was more successful. Examples in our own family led the way in this regard, such as Niger where President Mahamadou Issoufou was working very hard to lift his country out of poverty with first signs of success. The same had happened in Zambia and other parts of Africa and equally in Latin America where we could observe similar effects in the relationship between good governance and putting an end to poverty. It was pointed out that when different positions from the left and the right moved towards the centre, it enabled extremists or populists to rise and gain in relevance. The upcoming SI Council meeting in Istanbul would address the question of the economy with an emphasis on growth, jobs and equality, and for a new development agenda from a clear position of the center left.
The representative from Haiti briefly presented the situation in his home country, where the repeated delays for parliamentary and senatorial elections was bringing the country to the brink of democratic illegitimacy. He asked for the support of the SI in their struggle to uphold their democratic rights and the holding of free and fair elections. On the question of a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic regarding citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent, it was agreed that the parties concerned would meet to discuss this further.