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Home arrow newsitems arrow Tunisia Constituent Assembly Head Jafar to EuroFora: New Democratic Ideas from Arab Spring's cradle?

Tunisia Constituent Assembly Head Jafar to EuroFora: New Democratic Ideas from Arab Spring's cradle?

Written by ACM
Thursday, 28 June 2012

*Strasbourg/Council of Europe/Angelo Marcopolo/- The President of the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, the cradle of "Arab Spring's Historic Democratic Changes at the Mediterranean, Dr. Ben Jafaar, speaking to "EuroFora" shortly before a crucial, July 2012, first "Draft" for a brand New Constitution of the country, didn't exclude the possibility for Hannibal's fatherland to actively contribute also to Europe's own current Debates on the Future of Democracy, eventually by presenting some interesting New Ideas on relations between Citizens and States, inspired also by the Dramatic Symbol of Bouazizi.


Tarek Bouazizi was a poor Young Tunisian Man who set himself on Fire in despair after his complaints were totaly ignored, against alleged Insults trumpling underfoot Human Dignity in Public,  by the former regime's Police, which had violently denied him even the elementary Freedom to sell some Fruits and Vegetables in order to help his Family survive, after he was hindered to find a job corresponding to his qualifications, according to a Legend spreading among Young People accross the Mediterranean, up to the G-8 Heads of State/Government Summit last May 2011 at Deauville, (Comp. "EuroFora"s NewsReports from the spot, f.ex. : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/sarkozystandbypeoplefightingforfreedom.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/egyptetunisiangos.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/deauvillefreedominternetmediterranean.html  )  to the point that "he has become our Hero", as said to "EuroFora" the Egyptian Young lady Activist, Asmaa Mahfouz, who was honored by EU Parliament with the "Sacharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and Expression" on December 2011, (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/arabspringbouazizizacharovprize.html )


Tunisia's Ancient History is also famous by the "New City" of Poenicians : Carthage, which had developed a strong Maritime Empire in the Western Mediteranean, to the point that its Chief, the Greek-educated Strategist Hannibal, had notoriously succeeded to cross throughout Europe,  (via Spain, France and Switzerland towards Italy) and even via the Alps Mountains, up to Rome, thanks to ingenuity and innovation, daring to undertake the most daunting tasks.


 - "EuroFora" observed that, even if several bodies of CoE's PanEuropean Organization for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, as f.ex. the Top Legal Experts of "Venice Commission", also known as "Democracy through Law", could certainly provide useful advise if consulted by the Tunisian Constitution-makers, (Comp. Infra), nevertheless, "also Tunisia itself", (as the Cradle of a growing series of Democratic Changes still going on accross the Mediterranean since the 2011 "Arab Spring"), has already offered, and might, eventualy, offer some more useful inputs to Europe, even  if mainly of a Symbolic nature".


- "A well known Symbol, mainly for Young People, but also older, is Bouazizi's Dramatic case, which was one among many others, in Tunisia and elsewhere", "EuroFora" reminded.



=> So that, "the Question arises, if, at your Knowledge, and given your important Responsibilities" (as President of Tunisia's Constituent Assembly), one may Hope to see some Interesting, New and/or Original Ideas emerge, in addition to hopefuly robuste solutions to classic Constitutional issues, (f.ex. of Power-Sharing between Institutions, etc), which might be useful also in the current Debate on the Future of Democracy in Europe itself", as we pointed out.


- Such a possible move could, "f.ex., concern Citizens' Rights, and/or People's possibilities to participate in the (Public Authorities') Decision-making processes, in one way or another, by using, or not, New Technologies as Internet, Social Media, etc", (where Tunisia has a special role, since the 2005 UNO's World Internet Forum, etc ), given that "such issues, which go well beyond the Traditional Constitutional Questions, interest many People Today", both in Europe and accross the entire World, "EuiroFora" noted, in conclusion.



 - "Thank you.. We accept willingly this additional Responsibility that you suggest to give us", even if, "already,  our shoulders bear the Heavy Burden of the (main) Responsibility to bring the Democratization process of the Country to its conclusion", joked, smiling but Positive, from the outset, President Ben Jafar.


 - "Because, in the Momentum generated by the (Tunisian) Revolution, sometimes, it was said that Tunisia and more generally the Arab Spring may affect even the whole World" in a way, "in what might be an Historic moment", he pointed out.

>>> So, "I don't know if there might be New Ideas, but the Genius of the (Tunisian) Revolution, which has already Succeeded to turn Peacefully the page of one of the most firm Dictatorships, might, perhaps, be also able to advance some Ideas for Debate", Ben Jafar agreed, optimistically.

=> Indeed, "I think that this is the Moment that we can, absoilutely, take advantage of, if we become Conscious enough, in order to Revise our Drafts, and our view of the World", the President of Tunisia's Constituent Assembly replied to "EuroFora"s Question

 - Particularly "if we become Aware and Conscious of the fact that we are at a Juncture in the Relations between the North and the South, between West and East", the experienced politician highlighted.

=> - F.ex., "We've just ascertained that Democracy and Islam can be Compatible. But, advancing well beyond the issue of Democracy in the Muslim and Arab World, we should, perhaps, seize this Historic Opportunity", he stressed, pointing at a possible contribution to an even Wider issue currently concerning also Europe and the whole World.

- F.ex. "in order to renew the Relations between West and East, between North and South, in what some have already started to call "Mediterranean's 2 shores", on a more Balanced basis, avoiding some previously prevailing views of Fear, which were dominated by Security issues (only), in order to start thinking Together in terms of a Common Future, based on shared Universal Values" (of Democracy/Human Rights, etc) and Peace, but also on a Strategy of Co-Develmopment, able to resolve, directly or indirectly, all the concerns  that you moght have in our regard each time that an immigrant dives in the Mediterranean Sea and crosses it in order to go to Lampedousa or elsewhere", as he said.

=> In fact, "I think that the Exchanges that will continue between us (CoE and Tunisia) will help to Better handle such (contemporary) Democracy issues", as those raised by "EuroFora"s question (Comp. Supra), he suggested in reply.

- "The aged Democracy of the West, is not so "old", since it Inspired us" (Tunisia's Democratic Revolution), he noted.

+ "But, I think that, if there are some Problems (to solve Today : Comp. f.ex. earlier "EuroFora"s NewsReports on the forthcoming Strasbourg's 1st "World Forum on Democracy", October 2012, and on CoE's policies related to Young People, etc), we (Tunisia's Constituent Assembly+)  are Ready to take part (Participate) in the Debate, in order to try to Solve them", President Jafar  positively concluded.
 - In practice, "we excpect to have a 1st Draft in the middle of July, so that we could finaly adopt the New Constittion on October 23"', i.e. at the Anniversary of the "1st Democratic Elections in Tunisia's History" (23/10/2011) as he said earlier.

Well informed Diplomatic sources from Tunisia told "EuroFora" that, when 6 specialized Commissions of the Constituent Assembly will present ther Draft Proposals, ine a few Days, after the end of a long series of various Hearings, the main task will be that of a Coordinating Committee, responsible for the overall Draft Text, which is Chaired by the President of the Constituent Assembly, Ben Jafar himself.


    + Meanwhile, the above mentioned potential Perspectives could become even more important in the foreseeable Futrue, since CoE Assembly's President, French MEP Jean-Claude Mignon, stressed at this occasion that Tunisia's way towards Democratization could soon become an "Historic case of Exemplary value", also for others, while Tunis might also decide, after October 2012, when it will have a fully-fledged New Parliament (thanks to the New Constitution prepared by the current Constituent Assembly), to develop closer, even Institutional, links with the CoE,  f.ex. by asking to get a "Partner for Democracy" status., as suggested the Head of the PanEuropean Assembly, which has the power to give such a Status mainly to selected Neighbouring Countries.


    Jafar, who is also President of a mainstream Poliical Party and former Candidate for the Country's Presidency, after many Years spend on Journalism and as co-Founder of Human Rights' organisation, before serving also recently as Minister, anounced that Tunisia has already started a series of exchanges with CoE's "Venice Commission" (Comp. Supra), and spoke to "EuroFora" just before addressing CoE's PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, which debated and voted today on the differend but topical developments in the Egyptian and Tunisian cases of the so-called "Arab Spring", alias a Democratisation Wind blowing after the 1990ies in former Central-Eastern European Countries, now also, mutatis mutandis, in 3rd Mediterranean Countries, all the way from Morocco up to Syria now, at the borders of Turkey.


("DraftNews", already sent earlier to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate and Full, Final Version may come asap).




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    Scientific innovation joined to Faith for Human Rights, Eastern Partnership and fight against the Crisis, but above all, the need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" from EU Citizens, are the main priorities for new EU Parliament's President, Polish Jerzy Buzek, that a 555-votes-strong majority of MEPs on July 14,  Strasbourg made a living symbol of the fact that, 20 years after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989 - 2009) there is no more an Eastern or Western Europe, but only one Europe, as the head of the largest group of MEPs, ChristianDemocrats/EPP, Joseph Daul, stressed after the event.

    Speaking later to a group of Strasbourg's Journalists, including "EuroFora", the new EU Parliament's President clarified his stance on concrete topical issues, as f.ex. that of Turkey's controversial EU bid, which was one of the main issues of the June 2009 Electoral campain, clearly won by his party of ChristianDemocrats/EPP :  - "At present, Turkey does not fullfil none of EU conditions", he stressed, (See infra).


    Buzek is well known in Strasbourg and to "EuroFora" as EU Rapporteur for the Framework Program of Scientific Research and Development of Technologies. A Natural Science Professor from the Historic and Religious landmark Polish City of Częstochowa, active in the famous Solidarnosk grass-roots social movement, he served 4 years as Prime Minister (1997-2001), before being elected as MEP in 2004 and 2009, after he brillantly won the latest EU Election at the head of his party (EPP) almost doubling the number of its MEPs from 15 to 28 !

    - "Innovation" and "Energy safety", as well as fight against the "Cimat change", but also "Eastern Partnership", the "Mediterranean", "Strategic partnerships" with Russia, the USA, etc, and the search for "solutions to the Economic Crisis" that EU Citizens "expect" from us, will be his "priorities", announced from the outset the new EU Parliament's President, reminding also that the quest for "Human and Civic Rights" played an important role in his experience with the Solidarnosc grass-roots social movement in Poland's History

    But, the most important of all, is the urgent need to overcome the "Crisis of Trust" between EU Institutions and the People he stressed : - EU "Citizens often don't understand us", denounced Buzek, launcing a call to "do anything for EU Citizens to understand our work" in EU Parliament : "We (MEPs) need to make EU Citizens involved" in "what we are doing every week, in Strasbourg and Brussels", he proposed. Pointing f.ex. to the hot "Debates" with "strong arguments" exchanged between MEPs during the preparation of their Legislative Decisions, in Committees, delivering often hard struggles between initially opposed points of view, long before forging a majority at the final vote, sometimes more than a year..

    Therefore, EU Parliament will be "open to your criticism, for discussion and exchange of views", he promissed to Journalists in Strasbourg.

    In this way, Buzek, in fact, highlighted "EuroFora"s main idea, that we strongly advocate since 1997-2007, to systematicaly and actively involve EU Citizens in public debates during the decision-making process of important EU measures, which affect their lives and the society in which they live, (and not only just a few weeks each 4 or 5 Years at the eve of EU Elections)...
    This is related also to the symbolic gift that Buzek chose to give to the out-going former EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, (2007-2009), his collegue in the ChristianDemocrats/EPP, who brillantly won 2009 EU Elections in Germany : A genuine statute of sainte Barbara crafted in Silesia's black Coal by Polish Miners : Those simple but strong people who fought for social change against some technocrats and bureaucrats disguissed into so-called "real-socialists" of old times. (PHOTO).

    It's enough to have seen a popular open air mass, at Warsaw's center, with many thousands of people, old and young, simple workers and intellectuals mixed together, with references to Poland's history and struggles for survival and liberty, through various ages, (as fex. that organized at the eve of CoE's 2005 panEuropean Heads of State and Government for the beatification of late Pope John-Paul II), in order to understand what such symbols mean..


    But, overcoming the "Crisis of Trust" with EU Citizens obviously implies also to rectify any errors done in the past, fex. on Turkey's controversial EU bid, with controversial decisions taken in 1999 and 2004 to give a "candidate" status and to start EU negotiations, provoking an unprecedented series of 3 "No" to EuroReferenda and 3 Majoriy Abstentions in EU Parliament Elections : 1999, 2005 and 2009, (even if the latest one succeeded to decelerate and almost stop the drop of participation rates, opening hopes for vote's revival after an electoral campaign clearly critical to Turkey's claims in several mainstream EU countries)
    Therefore, Buzek was faced with manifold critical Questions on EU Enlargement, most of them citting concrete examples of certain political problems  :  But his replies were almost always given as a matter of general principle :

    F.ex. Questioned on the suspension of EU - Croatia talks because of a Border conflict with EU Member Slovenia, Buzek prefered to speak about principles :

- "We know that during Enlargement, the process can be blocked by failure to resolve this kind of issues",  This concerns also other enlargments' cases", and "these rules are always in force" he warned.

But Buzek avoided to directly reply to a queston on "French and German EPP' calls to define the Borders of Europe", as a German journalist asked him by making a reference to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angie Merkel's, critical statements on Turkey at the June 2009 Electoral campain.    

- "Concerning Enlargement, there's always the same rules : There have to be Criteria, which have to be respected if a Country wants to join the EU", he started to simply reply.

- "For my country (Poland) it took us 15 Years to fullfil these Criteria", Buzek reminded, indicating, if proportions are kept, that Turkey, fex. would have to spend some 25 years before eventually joining the EU..

- "Countries wishing to join the EU need to Change their Systems", as we (Poland and other former Eastern European Countries) did, he stressed.

- "'For me, meeting the condition of Human Rights is one of the Key conditions for membership in the EU", preferring again to speak from the point of view of General Principles, on the occasion of an untimely question on Serbia (which is not even a candidate yet)...

- "Turkey" has, "first of all", to fullfil (EU) Copenhagen criteria". Bevause, currently, none of them is fullfiled by Turkey", New EU Parliament's President, denounced, speaking later to a group of Journalists, including "EuroFora".


In particular, on Human Rights :  - "We (EU) can never forget Human Rights", because "this is at the very Foundations of the EU", Buzek added.

On the contrary, when he referred to EU Enlargment for the  "Western Balkans Countries ", Buzek appeared upbeat, finding "promising situations", despite "difficulties" in the Past, since "Countries are queuing to become EU members", and this "generated changes", as he said.

As for Russia, Buzek observed that it was a "very important" country, located "in the same Continent", Europe,  "close to our borders", and "we need eachother". "But Russia' has 'differend poblems : "They claim that their system is Democratic, but rules are differend", and we must be "aware of such differencies", fex. "on Human Rights", that we can't ignore, as he said;

Concerning China, where a journalist observed that the recipient of EU Parliament's latest "Sakharov prize" for freedom of thought is "still in prison", Buzek found that since the 1999 events in Tien Amin square, "we see differencies on Human Rights still today", and expressed his "support" for those who try to ameliorate the situation.

On the contrary, speaking recently to "EuroFora" he strongly supported the idea for an EU - Ukraine cooperation, fex. between Airbus and Antonov, in order to build a  less costly but more performant than the old and problematic A400M, new Military Transport Airplane : - "They (Ukranian Antonov Company) can certainly do it. I'm sure they can. It's a good Idea, and I'd be glad if it was done", he told us. (See : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/airbusantonov.html )



2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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