Is democracy a relative concept, as many here today have suggested?
We can argue that democracy can take many forms, that the practicalities can be diverse. But its basic values can’t be.
Democracy has to be based on the equal opportunity for everybody to participate in the process, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion – with the same rights, and the same obligations.
Stability and democracy go hand in hand.
There is a reason to be concerned because of the recent setbacks we have seen in this regard.
There is reason to be concerned about the situation in Turkey, where press freedom is being circumvented as we speak, and with that, democracy itself.
There is reason to be concerned about the situation in Venezuela, another example of how a failure of democracy, rising authoritarianism, fast can lead to the destruction of the very foundations of a functioning society.
There is reason to be appalled by what the government of Myanmar is doing to its Rohingya-minority.
This list can, unfortunately, go on.
The representative of Syria said that “war and destruction can’t lead to democracy”. That is true.
But if voices are not allowed to be heard unrest follows; suppression can lead to war and destruction too.
Democracy is the key to stability, and its values are absolute, not relative.
(Speech at the 137th IPU congress, Committee on Human Rights and Democracy)