Diplomacy ‘can help achieve democracy’

May 14, 2014 - 4:06:03 am
Former French premier, Dominique de Villepin, addressing the first session on ‘Democracy Building After the Change’ on the second day of Doha Forum at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel yesterday. On the dais are from left: Dr Mohamed Lemine Dahi from High Institute for Applied Postgraduate Studies, Mauritania, Dr Pascal Boniface, Director, Institute for International and Strategic Relations, Paris, Jacek Protasiewicz, Vice-President, European Parliament, Lord William of Baglan, International Trustee of the BBC and former UN under-secretary, and Maurice Leroy, President, Qatar-France Friendship Society. Salim Matramkot

DOHA: Democracy can be achieved through diplomacy, not by force, former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin told the 14th Doha Forum yesterday.

“I would like to see more Western democracy send more professors, doctors and lawmakers rather than their armies to all the countries of the world and this is the only way to further democracy,” he added.

He cited Iraq in 2003 as an example, in which “they thought through force they can create democracy that not only builds democratic and stable institutions but also leads to peace,” he said, adding history has shown military intervention has been a failure. “For politicians, it is easier to go to war than implement peace because the military people follow orders but democracy is more complex than politics.”

He urged a renewed energy to work towards diplomacy, giving more roles to diplomats and establishing dialogue with various parties regardless of their position.

He also stressed the need to create a “democratic diplomacy, which means diplomacy based on societies. More often diplomacy is between governments but it must recognise new actors in the civil society. We must exchange more with the civil society, that’s how we build the democratic fabric.”

To develop democracy, the best tools are regional organisations because best practices are exchanged between neighbours, he said, stressing the necessity to further the sharing of information and democratic knowledge through these regional organisations.

“Wherever we have weak regional institutions, democracy and peace are enfeebled, that’s why the Middle East must give better roles to regional institutions as well as North Africa should work together and build ties among the countries. Democracy cannot be built in one country; it has to be shared with the neighbours as well.”

Villepin referred to Second Age Democracy as something that is not imposed but shared through procedures that allow countries to evolve democracy through a historical phase. “Democracy requires time. It takes debates and discussions that allow democracy to assert and enroot itself in society. Democracy is not a state, it is not a nation, it is also a society that is awake and discusses ideas and gradual reforms.”

There is no one model of democracy for all countries because democracy must adapt to local circumstances, taking into consideration cultures and civilisations, he explained. Political, social and ethnic minorities must be taken into account as a country transitions into a democracy.

“If we do not take those minorities in consideration, then democracy would be the victory of the strong against the weak, even with elections. If we want civil peace, we must give place to the minorities; that means we must develop consensus, a national union which encompasses everyone.” For democracy to work, there should be respect for dignity of each person, and identities should be protected. “We know that wounded identities are source of violence and terrorism. We must make sure identities are respected, recognised and protected.” The Peninsula

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