BSPC at International Forum on Development of Parliamentarism in Moscow:
Pettersson pointed out the vital importance of international parliamentary cooperation – especially in times of tense situations: “That time when we stop speaking, we will have real problems“.
According to an agreement in the BSPC Standing Committee, a delegation of the BSPC – consisting of the President of the BSPC, Jörgen Pettersson, the former President of the BSPC and Head of the Delegation of the Russian State Duma to the BSPC, Valentina Pivnenko, and the Secretary General of the BSPC, Bodo Bahr – took part in the International Forum on the Development of Parliamentarism in Moscow from 4 to 5 June 2018. Delegates of 96 parliaments from all over the world and representatives of 10 international parliamentary organizations attended. The BSPC was the only international parliamentary organisation to address the participants during the opening plenary session.
In the run-up to the Forum, the delegation of the BSPC had a bilateral meeting on 3 June in the State Duma of the General Assembly of the Russian Federation with the Chairman of the State Duma, Mr Vyacheslav Volodin, Vice-Chairmen and further deputies of the State Duma.
During the bilateral meeting, the Chairman of the State Duma,Mr Vyacheslav Volodin,emphasised that this Forum was an opportunity to discuss global issues with regard to its parliamentary dimension. He expressed his belief that the experiences and visions on all issues of the Forum would help to find appropriate solutions for them. As members of parliaments, the participants have all the expertise to discuss these issues. He pointed out the necessity to trust each other, to speak to each other. Trust was based on dialogue. The forum provided an opportunity to achieve this dialogue. All the reserves of parliamentary abilities should be employed to achieve mutual understanding and find all the possible solutions for all involved nations.
BSPC President Jörgen Petterssonunderlined that the International Forum for the Development of Parliamentarism was an essential forum for dialogue and exchange between parliamentarians worldwide.
He stressed that all of us could learn a lot from each other. As he had travelled to many places of the world, he had seen that people, despite their apparent differences, were truly the same. They wanted to have peace, they wanted to have love, they wanted to have work, and they wanted to feel secure. At the end of the day, Mr Pettersson said, that was what the parliamentarians were doing, striving to make living better for themselves, their populations and their voters, to make them feel loved and secure and peaceful, to make sure that they had work to go to. That, he pointed out, was an international, a global endeavour and what everybody wanted.
He informed the forum about the current work of the BSPC and noted that the BSPC was founded on the initiative of the Finnish speaker, Mr Kalevi Sorsa, in 1991, with the reason that talking was always better than not talking. Meetings were always better than isolation. That idea had been identified at that time and continued to be worked on over the years by the BSPC. Mr Pettersson said that when the time came when they stopped speaking, that would be the moment that they had real problems. Therefore, it was very essential that parliamentarians did meet and did speak to each other, trying to use the best practices in their different countries and different systems.
Valentina Pivnenko noted that in the BSPC, despite the differences in views, solutions were being sought that would meet the expectations of other states. Consensus was being reached despite all the differences in place. She also stressed that, at the BSPC Standing Committee meeting in Finland, the cross-border cooperation between Finland and Russia was being discussed. The Russian State Duma had adopted a law on cross-border cooperation in 2017 and was currently working on ratifying the cross-border cooperation between the European Union and the Russian Federation. She felt it necessary to note that this cooperation was an important international tool that would help bring about all the projects of the involved parties. Today, thanks to the position of Finland, it made it possible to preserve the cross-border cooperation between the European Union, Finland, and the Russian Federation. She closed by offering her wishes that the cooperation would be fruitful and successful and would help achieve all the goals pursued by the involved parties for the Baltic Sea Region.
In his speech during the opening plenary session of the Forum, BSPC President Jörgen Pettersson pointed out the vital importance of international parliamentary cooperation – especially in times of tense situations. He thanked the Chairman of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Mr Vyacheslav Volodin, for inviting the BSPC to this highly topical International Forum on the Development of Parliamentarismin Moscow.He characterized the conference as an essential forum for dialogue and worldwide exchange between parliamentarians and informed the participants about the BSPC and its work by saying:
“The BSPC, consisting of 22 parliaments and 5 parliamentary organisations around the Baltic Sea, was founded in 1991 on the initiative of Kalevi Sorsa, then Speaker of the Finnish Parliament. The primary goal was to create a platform for open parliamentary dialogue to overcome the cold war and to establish the Baltic Sea as a region of freedom, prosperity and cooperation.
“Moreover, we have been successful in this during our 27 years of cooperation.
“My homeland, the Åland Islands, is particularly aware of the need for and committed to international parliamentary cooperation because of our history. Åland is a great and real example of crisis management. Thanks to international agreements nearly a hundred years ago, we today have guaranteed, neutralised and demilitarised autonomy in the Baltic Sea; Åland is known as ‘the islands of peace’. We hope to inspire others with our history of peace-making in practice.
“We must strengthen interparliamentary cooperation as well as the influence of parliaments. We are the voice of the people who, all over the world, want love, security, prosperity, peace and freedom.
“Their collective will is of crucial importance to look for answers to international challenges such as the threats posed by terrorism and armed conflicts but also for best practice examples in good legislation to inspire others and be inspired in the work of improving the well-being of countries and citizens.
“Therefore, the themes you have chosen for this Forum are important for interparliamentary cooperation.
“That is why we propose not only to hold government summits, but also parliamentary summits to involve parliamentarians and parliamentary institutions in government summits.
“We want to live in a free, peaceful and prosperous world based on democratic values and human rights.
“Ladies and gentlemen, despite the significant progress that we have achieved over the past years, tremendous challenges remain. These are challenges which we can only tackle jointly, especially environmental protection, sustainability, the implementation of the United Nations 2030 goals, terrorism, armed conflicts, migration and economic development as well as digitalisation and the impact on societies.
“Negative spirals in development, which are detrimental to all of us, must be broken by honest initiatives to achieve a lasting solution to any crisis. It is essential to condemn violence and violations of international law and human rights. We must fight for more cooperation and less isolation.
“Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, we must make every effort to resolve conflicts through political dialogue and not through armed forces.
“In this respect, parliamentary cooperation is a powerful tool for transparent, democratic and fruitful political processes to address contentious issues.
“The Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference in Åland on 27 August 2018 will offer dialogue, debate, solutions, friendship and a strong will to increase cooperation and prosperity in the region.
“We will also include the young generation in our deliberations – as we regularly have done in our former conferences – and give them the opportunity to discuss their recommendations on the United Nations 2030 development goals which they will elaborate one week before at a youth summit called Regeneration 2030.
“We are the Islands of Peace, and we want the whole of the Baltic Sea and the rest of the world to follow our example: for the benefit of hope and the never-ending search for a better life.“
In the context of the conference section
“Strengthening International Security: The Role of Parliaments”,
Jörgen Petterssonmade a contribution to the issue by highlighting:
“Life is full of surprises. Thanks to a war that ended in 1854, my homeland Åland is today known as the islands of peace. I will come back to that later.
“We parliamentarians are the representatives of the citizens of our countries, and we are the voice of the people. To live means a wonderful mixture of challenges but above all a will to stay safe, wherever you are.
“The collective will of the people is of crucial importance to look for answers to international challenges such as the threats posed by terrorism and armed conflicts.
“Above all, the people in our countries want to live in a free, peaceful and prosperous world based on democratic values.
“We are in debt to those who shaped our continent, and we are in even higher obligation to them who are not yet born but have every right to grow up and form their future and their happiness. We need action to make that happen.
“Our security is threatened not only by armed conflicts but also by international terrorism, which knows no borders in its brutal murders.
“The parliamentarians of the Baltic Sea region utterly condemned terrorism in all its forms as a common threat to our citizens and our shared values.
“They deplore the loss of innocent lives, expressed sympathy and solidarity with the victims of all terrorist attacks, their families and all those who suffered in these inhumane attacks and they underlined the crucial need for the joint fight against this significant threat to our societies and to uphold our democratic values, while stressing that this fight has to respect the rule of law and civil and human rights.
“However, because we agree that we must join forces and work together to prevent such attacks and to combat the roots of this evil, this is an area in which parliaments can work together much more closely and on a larger scale than before. It is an issue that could be given a much stronger focus at an international parliamentary summit by a joint declaration by as many parliamentary organisations as possible in its call to intensify preventative measures. That could encourage governments to take preventative measures much more intensively than before and to cooperate unreservedly in this area.
“That would also send a signal to our populations that we are taking preventative action to deal with these problems and not only when there are a large number of deplorable victims.
“The BSPC is also convinced that the issues of Migration and Integrationpose a tremendous challenge to all countries in our region as well as a great chance for their further development. Those issues call for intensive dialogue as well as close cooperation and coordinated policies.Therefore, the BSPC has established a working group which analyses and discusses migration and integration as well as the topic of refugees. This is a global responsibility. When it comes to the right to stay safe we are one world and one people. One of the main reasons why so many people leave and flee their home countries in a short period are armed conflicts. Our task must be to contain or prevent conflicts and reduce tensions. In this respect, we can send out stronger signals through increased parliamentary cooperation, the primary objective of which is to minimize conflicts.
“Even if governments can only talk to each other to a limited extent, it has been shown time and again that dialogue and willingness to speak at the parliamentary level to reduce conflicts can certainly be continued.
“That is what the people who elected us expect. We must strengthen interparliamentary cooperation as well as the influence of parliaments.
“We must engage proactively in dialogue and collaboration. We have a responsibility towards our societies and future generations to care for our regions. Participation and cooperation are a universal mandate for all of us.
“We parliamentarians as representatives of the citizens in our countries need to work on deepening dialogue between countries continuously. We also have to find compromises and cooperation related to the democratic values to face future international challenges and possibilities.
“We may not be able to reconcile conflicting positions fully, but we can at least provide a forum in which these differences can be openly resolved and in which we can have an open political debate on them – and I believe that this is a necessary condition for pursuing pragmatic approaches and compromises on difficult issues.
We should not assume that we parliamentarians can always find satisfactory solutions to various issues. But as representatives of our citizens, we have a duty to our citizens to help resolve conflicts.
“Finally, the islands of peace. My homeland Åland. Ever since the peace treaty in Paris of 1856, i.e. the Crimean War, Åland has been demilitarised and also neutralised. International agreements have made a difference, and we are today a great example of crisis management. Thanks to the treaties, our economy is blossoming, and we are an attractive place for people to live in and move to. We are a welcoming society. We are peaceful, and peace makes people strong while fear makes us weak. That’s why we must never stop fighting evil.”
In a contribution during the section “Youth Policies: Parliamentary Dimension” of the conference, Jörgen Pettersson referred to the motto of a Baltic Sea Region Youth Conference: “Nothing about us without us” which expresses the foundation of the relationship between policy decision-makers and the young generation.
Pettersson highlighted the fact that every new generation is a little brighter than the previous ones. “Therefore you should take our advice but not necessarily follow it. The world of tomorrow is yours, not ours.” Jörgen Pettersson also informed the worldwide audience about the Regeneration 2030 summit (Link:https://www.regeneration2030.org/) that will take place in Åland on 18-20 August 2018 where the next generation will discuss what will happen tomorrow and speak about the implementation of the 2030 Development Goals of the United Nations. He pointed out that representatives of this Baltic Sea-wide Youth Forum will get the opportunity to present the results of their deliberations at the 27thBaltic Sea Parliamentary.
In the margins of the Forum, the BSPC delegation also had conversation with a number of Speakers of Parliaments from Africa and South America as well as with Presidents and Secretaries General of other Interparliamentary Assemblies such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean and PABSEC as well as with members of other parliamentary delegations. The BSPC delegation further attended an event at the Embassy of Finland in Moscow and met the former Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, Mr Eero Heinäluoma and MP Ilkka Kanerva who also attended the International Forum.