Imprisoned Director of the Baku School of Political Studies
Within the time limits on the opportunity to communicate this letter I have no chance to check from prison the precise title of the formal mechanism which must exist at the PACE to deal with issues of ethics. In fact, I am addressing people in charge of that mechanism. This address is a public one. Therefore, I feel obliged to begin it with an extensive acknowledgement gratitude to the CoE officials and institutions who in the past 3,5 years have been doing their best to release me – a political prisoner in a member country. Following that I will discuss the less convincing, but still permissible overtures of the PACE with the ruling regime of Azerbaijan during the same period. Finally, I will identify practices that I find unethical and therefore disappointing.
By Saša Magazinović
Alumnus of the School of Political Studies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, April 2015
I was born in Sarajevo, at that time a city in Yugoslavia – some people would say a non–democratic country with only one political party but the country was economically and socially stable and most of the population were satisfied. My children were born in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a democratic country with intangible human freedoms, but little security in terms of jobs, health, and their future.
Translated from French by Alexandra Jaraba
Where do democracy and human rights stand in today's Europe? This question is worth asking in these terms because today, Europe, Greater Europe is going through a period of doubt and questioning, and Europeans, from both West and East are clearly troubled.
By Jack Hanning
Secretary General of the European Association of Schools of Political Studies
When the Berlin Wall came down, 25 years ago, the fall of communism and the toppling of dictatorships sparked continent-wide euphoria. Peace, stability and democracy became by-words for a prosperous and bright European future. But the dream of a continent-wide democratic “wonderland” was short-lived as economic hardship, coupled with political uncertainties and military conflicts gradually engendered a sense of drift and gloom.
By Lilla Pinter, Alumna of the Visegrád School of Political Studies (2013)
Brussels, April 2014
“Use your power. Choose who is in charge in Europe!” reads the campaign slogan for this year’s elections to the European Parliament. Following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the vote taking place between 22 and 25 May will be different from previous ones. The results will not only determine the composition of the new Parliament but will also have a direct influence on the appointment of the European Commission’s new president. Our individual votes can indeed have an impact on who is in charge in Europe and we can all play a significant role in building a more responsible and democratic Europe by exercising our civic duty of voting. This is all the more important given the prevailing crises and the subsequent growth of extreme populist parties in national politics.
Ilgar Mammadov, Director of the Baku School of Political Studies of the Council of Europe, has just been sentenced to 7 years imprisonment on politically motivated charges. This sentence comes a few weeks before Azerbaijan is scheduled to take over the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
By Ilgar Mammadov, 29 January 2014
I must respond to the remarks made twice in the past seven months in Brussels by Azerbaijan’s absolutist ruler Ilham Aliyev about my situation as a prisoner. Mr Aliyev was right in justifying his repressive acts by what he called a “fiasco” of his opponents at the 23 January PACE voting. I shall add: a well-predicted fiasco. Many years ago Baku has skillfully transformed the debate about political prisoners into a bureaucratic, that is non-political, discussion about technical criteria for the definition/ Moreover, the discussion it self went in the wrong direction of assessing a prisoner’s situation vis-à-vis law and other individuals, instead of focusing on the big political picture of justice.
By Mikhail Minakov, January 2014
The idea of One Europe is under threat once again. Today, the risk comes from consolidating post-Soviet authoritarianisms and their emerging friendship with ultra-conservative parties in EU member states. Post-Soviet fragmented societies and self-defeating oligarchies have provided an accommodating environment for the development of corporate states with authoritarian rulers. Resources of the East are uniting to create an ultraconservative alternative to the modern and rights based Europe. This trend is a menace to the entire European space: both to the new nations of Eastern Europe as well as to the values of the longer established democracies.
A discussion of the human rights situation in the post-Soviet Space is very timely, in particular in respect of the results of the EU’s Vilnius Summit on the Eastern Partnership and the subsequent pro-European demonstrations in Ukraine. André Härtel (DPP), who moderated the meeting and introduced the subject, pointed to the complexity of the issue due to the diversity of the region, the difficulty to obtain reliable information from often biased sources, and the self-centered Western perspective on the post-Soviet space. May we really speak about a “backdrop” of human rights and democracy considering the priority of state-building and economic issues in the region for at least the first century after the demise of the Soviet Union? How decisive is the role of Russia as the biggest state in the region and often a role model for others?
The meeting was opened by Mr Michael Remmert, Deputy to the Director of Policy Planning of the Council of Europe and moderator of the meeting, followed by some introductory remarks by SPS Directros from the Western Balkans region. Corruption is a very serious problem in the region. Some would say that very little can be done about it or that it even has to be accepted as part of the mentality prevailing in the region. However, certain NGOs in the region have made the fight against corruption their central goal. Young leaders have also spoken up against certain practices and they will have a role to play in the future.
The meeting was attended by participants from the Schools of Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and the Visegrád School (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovak Republic). The moderator, Mr André-Jacques Dodin, Head of Division for Intergovernmental Co-operation and Partial Agreement on Mobility through the Youth Card, Directorate General of Democracy, opened the meeting by offering a definition of the theme as it has been used by International Organisations, including the Council of Europe.
The meeting was attended by participants from the two Schools of Political Studies in Morocco and Tunisia, as well as a delegation from member states of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). It was introduced by Mr Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle East Studies at Science Po, School of International Affairs (PSIA), Paris, and followed by a short presentation of the Schools by their Directors, Mr Youssef Laaraj (Morocco) and Mr Ahmed Driss (Tunisia). The objective was to strengthen the link between these Schools by an exchange of information on activities undertaken and practical lessons that might be drawn from their experiences.
The European Association of Schools of Political Studies (EASPS) organised a two-day seminar (Strasbourg, 21-22 May 2013) on “Democratic citizenship and diversity” for the Network of Schools of Political Studies. The event formed part of the annual month “Celebrating Europe” sponsored by the City of Strasbourg.
By the Honourable Vincent de Paul Emah ETOUNDI, Director of the School of Politics and Citizenship in Yaoundé (SPCY)
One of the fundamental problems that affect the proper practice of democracy in most African states today is the proliferation of political posturing. Politics, as practiced in developing and democratising countries are hampered by a distortion of political life by a particular breed of politician. However it should be noted that the cause this inappropriate approach by some politicians is ignorance of the basic principles of democracy. Do our present and future politicians have the appropriate training and political culture to be leaders and to deal properly with public affairs?
Translated by Judy Coffin, 25 April 2013
Life often turns out unexpectedly: our dreams are left unfulfilled, our ideals unrealised. But in our seemingly hopeless striving to influence reality, somehow we uncover a more humane self, and the question “what can be done or not done?” is no longer relevant.
A year after the publication of a first book on the Network of Schools of Political Studies “Building Europe, democracy and civil society, from Russia to the Balkans”, Denis Rolland, Rector of the Academy of Guyana since 2012, has published a second volume “Towards European Democratic Governance: The Council of Europe from the Schools of Political Studies to the Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy (1992-2012)”.
The European Association of Schools of Political Studies demands the immediate and unconditionnal release of Ilgar Mammadov, Director of the Baku School of Political Studies, who was wrongfully arrested by the Azerbaijan Authorities on 4 February 2013.
By Democracy Digest, 23 January 2013
Georgia’s new government “could still go the way of … previous ones,” The Economist cautions, noting that the Caucasian republic “needs more effective checks on state power than it has had in previous years, in the form of political opposition and civil society.” The paper cites a recent paper from Chatham House, the London-based foreign policy think-tank, which finds that Georgia’s civil society is too weak to influence politics “as citizens have little capacity to influence political developments owing to lack of engagement, clientelist networks and corruption.”
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By Maciej Bartkowski and Annyssa Bellal, 3 May 2011
We need the international community to favour the worldwide groundswell of civil resistance over armed violence. This could be facilitated by a more dynamic and comprehensive interpretation of existing international law in the light of a broader understanding of those rights of which civil resistance is comprised.
By Maciej Bartkowski and Lester R. Kurtz, 4 February 2011
A comparison of the Polish Round Table and the Tiananmen Tragedy show that non-violent resistance movements need to be clear-headed in the moment of negotiation and transition. The next moves by the democratic movement in Egypt will determine the political shape of the country for a long time to come. It should learn from Solidarity's success in 1989.