Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the pleasure of conveying to you the spirit of Helsinki from the 6th Asia Europe People´s Forum which was held in September 2006. At this moment the whole world is feeling the consequences of an unprecedented collapse of the financial system. AEPF has consequently promoted the replacement of blind pro-market policies by alternative people-centred policies. [:]
We noted in Helsinki that ASEM countries control over half of the world´s gross national product. Thus, ASEM could be a key mechanism to lead the world on a sustainable path.
To us, it is very clear that ASEM only can succeed if the civil society gets an access to it.
We can take note with satisfaction that a Japanese-Finnish study titled “ASEM in its tenth year” shared our view: “Unfortunately the (AEPF) work has not been fully appreciated and effectively harnessed to complement the official ASEM agenda and generate concrete deliverables that could have mitigated some of the criticisms concerning the official ASEM process.”
On behalf of all of us, I turn to the Chinese government and the French EU Presidency: The voice of this 7th AEPF must be heard and our message taken into account.
The theme of this Forum is “For Social and Ecological Justice”. This calls for alternatives to the dominating forms of economic globalization which further increases gaps between winners and losers. As Europeans we have a special responsibility to defend the weaker Southern economies against the EU free trade agreements. They are based on the flawed view that the opening of markets will cure all problems.
As food security has now become such an issue in the mainstream political debate, we have to bring forward alternative models which help the rural poor keep their livelihoods.
Social and ecological justice must be pursued together. Nowhere is this more evident than in combatting climate change. It is the world´s have-nots who suffer most from the accelarating impact of climate change, whether they live in New Orleans or in Bangladesh.
Glacial melting on the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau poses threats to more than 40 percent of the world´s population because of growing water scarcity. Adaptation to and mitigation of climate change with rising energy prices exarcebate already existing inequalities.
This all means that we must work hard for Climate Justice. Those who are responsible for the warming of our planet, also have the responsibility to find a new, sustainable path. — According to an old Chinese proverb, “the sky is high, and the Emperor is far”. – But now we know: Even the sky has its limits, and the Emperor is gone.
There will be no global agreement on combatting climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009 unless the wealthy states mobilize new financial resources to this end. We, as the civil society and – let me also say, as parliamentarians – must work hard to scrutinize the international financial institutions so that they do not continue to apply counterproductive means when financing development.
There should be new kinds of mechanisms for international development. The existing international financial institutions have not reduced poverty, nor have they stopped the ecological destruction of our planet. – In fact, they are a significant part of the problem.
peace and security are at the core of our deliberations.
In Europe, too many believe that NATO is well on its way to becoming an international crisis management organization. Not only do I challenge this view. I also believe that NATO no longer offers the kind of military security guarantees for which it was established in the context of the Cold War.
Talking of global security threats, the minimun requirement from AEPF to ASEM should be that the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty be given a high priority in its conclusions.
The fight against international terrorism has severely curtailed civil and human rights all over the world. The United States and – I am sad to say – the European Union have been bad models to states in which authoritarian regimes misuse the notion of terrorism in order to crush the forces of opposition. Only by respecting the constitutional rights of people can the EU as well as the US be models to the rest of the world.
The 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, Professor Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh, holds that one of the best ways to prevent fundamentalism is to empower women.
Conflict prevention and peaceful settlements of conflicts are essential. Some days ago the former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, with whom I have had the pleasure to work over the past few years, was nominated the Nobel Peace Laureate. The award is above all a recognition of the growing importance of mediation as a tool towards sustainable peace. In peace processes, it is important to involve all groups, women included.
Martti Ahtisaari helped in a crucial way bringing the Indonesian government and the rebels of Aceh to the negotiation table. For ordinary people, the peace process already means the coming to an end of a nightmare.
What we have learned from Aceh is that several countries struggling with the question of regional autonomy can find peaceful and durable solutions, if the will is there.
The nightmarish situation in Burma/Myanmar has got the world´s attention after the crushing of the Saffron Revolution a year ago and the tragedy caused by the cyclone Nargis in May.
In regional perspective, it is important to acknowledge the positive role which China has played for a democratic transition of Burma/Myanmar. A more substantial contribution from China to a national reconciliation of its neighbour would also enhance China´s international relations.
AEPF in Helsinki strengthened and deepened its vision on democracy: An open and participatory democracy is the basis for sustainable economic and social development. The voice of the weakest in our societies must be heard.
Here in Beijing we will study how the aspirations of the Asian and European civil societies for People´s Agenda for democracy and human rights can be advanced. A rights-based approach must be followed in all development, in aid and in trade. The rights of disabled, indigenous people and immigrants must be respected.
For my part I would like to conclude by saying that participatory democracy is possible only if every citizen has the right of access to information and the freedom to express and share his or her views. Fostering dialogue which includes everyone is essential. Any society which wants to develop, needs the full participation of all its members.
Thank you for your attention.