Forum of World Society in Prague, 26th January 2015

29-01-2015

The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation has been a supporting organizer of the Forum of World Society, held within the 4th International Forum „Let My People Live!” in Prague.

The Prague Forum gathered around 500 representatives of European civic society, Speakers and members of Parliaments, journalists etc. It included a Forum of the World Society – 3 intensive debates focused on the Role of Media and Civic Society, Role of Legislation and Politicians in Combating Political Extremism, neonazism and Islamic radicalism.

The 1st debate (Role of the Media) discussing the changing media environment recommended an “adaptive” approach to challenges posed by new media – journalists have to bear continued responsibility for their messages, and the recipients should not hide behind anonymity. As many studies show, anonymity strengthens hate speech in new electronic media. Education and responsibility for ones words (also in internet) are the key principles upon which a media environment should be based on.

The 2nd debate (Role of Legislation) recommended that European legislation on combating certain forms of intolerance has to be strengthen, taking into accounts the changing nature of threats – political extremism and proliferation of radical Islam into Europe streets. The European human rights laws very often protect minorities, but do not address security challenges stemming from illegal immigration and terrorism. A new consensus between liberties and requirements of security has to be agreed upon.

The 3rd debate (Role of Politicians) finalized with just another confirmation how important political leadership is. Elected authorities bear in a democracy a special responsibility to protect the social fabric of European states against forces that aim at destructing it. The lesson of the 30-ties is that democracies cannot become a tool of populists to destroy it. Therefore democracies should develop mechanism protecting against extreme political movements who could grab power and then deny democratic freedoms to its citizens. In the 30-ties such situation ended-up in the Holocaust, and a renewed catastrophe cannot be excluded. Therefore Europe requires a new coalition of progressive forces (and institutions) that would remain vigilant to the danger of extremists gaining power in one of European states.

The Roundtable of European Speakers of Parliament under the Chairmanship of Martin Schulz adopted the “Prague Declaration” on combating antisemitism and hate crimes. A thorough debate was held where the majority of attending delegations recognized the need for new forms of legal activities, focused on combating rising threats to European societies. The Speakers agreed to establish an inter-parliamentarian Working Group to draft legal proposals strengthening tolerance and combating various forms of hatred and incitement to hatred. The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was invited to call for the first meeting of this Group in Brussels. The ECTR is invited to take part in this process and present the Model Law.