Liberal International (LI) is the world federation of liberal and progressive democratic political parties.
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LI Medal of Liberalism Awarded to Luxembourg PM BettelWednesday 22 June 2016 16:06 Recognising the long-standing commitment of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, to the promotion and development of liberal values nationally and worldwide a delegation from Liberal International, led by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves, has presented Prime Minister Bettel with LI’s Medal of Liberalism. "At this important occasion I want to emphasise that for us liberals the economy has importance but in first place are human beings,” said Luxembourg's liberal leader.
Investing Prime Minister Bettel with the Medal, LI President Dr. Minoves said:
“As Prime Minister he [Xavier Bettel] refuses easy populism and assumes the responsibility to govern taking difficult decisions crucial for the future of Luxembourg and the people of Luxembourg.
“His marriage with Gauthier has touched the world and has made Luxembourg an example of equality. It is a key principle of liberalism to have the state and the laws based on equal opportunities of the citizens and without discrimination of any kind.
“He presided in an exemplary way the Security Council of the United Nations and the European Union, gaining recognition by the international community.”
Expressing true appreciation for the medal, Prime Minister Bettel said: “It means a lot to me. I have always been fighting for liberalism and liberal values.
The special ceremony in Luxembourg was attended by President of the ALDE Party and LI President of Honour, Hans van Baalen MEP, President of Demokratesch Partei and Minister of Families, Corinne Cahen, LI Secretary General, Emil Kirjas and Friedrich Naumann Foundation Regional Director (Europe), Hans Stein.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats (LI full member) in the United Kingdom, Tim Farron MP, spoke out this morning: “I’m devastated and I am angry. Today we wake to a deeply divided country. Nigel Farage’s vision for Britain has won this vote, but it is not a vision I share.”
“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were out voted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them,” he added.
“Our fight for an open, optimistic, hopeful, diverse and tolerant Britain is needed now more than ever,” he concluded.
In a statement, the President of the ALDE Party (LI Cooperating Organisation), Hans van Baalen MEP, who is also a President of Honour of LI, spoke out with disappointment on the result of the referendum saying that regardless of the outcome "Britain and the EU must stay friends and allies".
Four months away from Parliamentary Elections in Georgia this October in a statement the liberals of ALDE-PACE expressed deep concern “that several Georgian politicians, including our former and current colleagues, as well as journalists have recently been harassed and physically attacked.”
Strongly condemning the attacks, ALDE-PACE called on the Council of Europe “to take appropriate action in order to bring the individuals responsible for violence to justice and to prevent such acts from occurring in the future”, and concluded that “violence cannot be a means of political struggle, and impunity for those who physically attack politicians and journalists is a serious threat to democracy.”
Together with RPG (LI full member) in May 2016 Liberal International organised its 196th Executive Committee Meeting in Georgia on the topic of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’, where delegates concluded that cyber-security is one of the main international challenges of the 21st century.
PM Rõivas at Council of Europe: Protecting human rights and rule of law offline and online. More relevant than ever pic.twitter.com/X9YPUe9w1g
Addressing the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas of the Reform Party (LI full member) of Estonia spoke at length about the importance of the Council to protect civil liberties and was among those to welcome the recently released Nadiya Savchenko to the PACE after liberals campaigned for her freedom earlier this year.
I admire Nadiya Savchenko for her incredible strength and courage. Told me she felt the support of Estonian people. pic.twitter.com/NjaXwZHDFn
“Stand together against violence and hatred”, says LI HRC member Kyuchyuk Thursday 23 June 2016 11:06 “The Liberal International Human Rights Committee has proven to be a leading and sustainable liberal instrument that promotes and advocates women’s rights, LGBTI rights, freedom of believe and responsibility to protect doctrine worldwide,” said Ilhan Kyuchuk MEP, ALDE Party Vice President and member of the LI HRC during his visit to the LI Secretariat in London.
Kyuchyuk - who hosted last December the LI/ALDE conference in Brussels on the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect - has renewed his invitation to the LI Human Rights Committee to meet in the European Parliament ahead of the International Human Rights Day in December. He said: “Promotion and protection of Human Rights are indivisibly connected to core Liberal ideas of liberty and equality. Liberal International Human Rights Committee actively contributes to the working mechanisms of the United Nations through its UN ECOSOC consultative status. It is important that we are equally vocal in the European Parliament.”
The young Bulgarian liberal leader who presides with the youth of the LI full member Movements for Rights and Freedoms – Mr Kyuchuk, made headlines in his country becing only one of the two MEPs who expressed public support to last weekend’s Sofia LGBTI Pride. In a letter to the Pride Organisers he recalled the mass shootings in Orlando, USA, Ilhan Kyuchuk called “to stand together against violence and hatred.”
At the LI office My Kychuk was received by LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas and Head of Human Rights Programme Tamara Dancheva.
Introducing the report, LI HRC Chair and LI VP on the Bureau Markus Löning, had commended the Committee for building a global coalition for freedom emphasising the potential which lies ahead. "The LI Human Rights Committee has a bright future and twinned with this, liberals around the world can be proud and assured that, as the Committee prepares to begin a second mandate, authoritarians,despots, and oppressors of people cannot rest easy; liberals around the world, united by a fundamental belief in freedom, will not rest" he said.
Among its numerous and varied activities in 2015, the LI HRC marked a number of successes within and beyond the field of international politics. From the quarterly LI Human Rights Bulletin to hosting the first liberal debate on the future of the Responsibility to Protect principle following its inception 10 years ago, the LI HRC positioned itself as an important international human rights player able to better promote universal human rights.
LI had also championed a number of global human rights issues by strengthening strategic partnerships with the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York, while working extensively with its Working Groups on LGBTI Rights and Women's Rights, led by Frank Van Dalen and Dr. Ketty Chen (DPP - LI full member) respectively,and long-established partners such as UN Watch.
A copy of the web version of the Report can be found by clicking here.
VP Löning backs EU-Georgia visa-free travel Thursday 16 June 2016 15:06 “Georgia should be granted visa-free travel” was the unequivocal conclusion of senior FDP (Germany - LI full member) politicians after a meeting with the president of the Georgian parliament, David Usupashvili in Berlin last week.
Less than one month after Liberal International convened its 196thExecutive Committee meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, where international liberals applauded the Euro-Atlantic ambitions of the Republican Party of Georgia (RPG – LI full member) ahead of elections in October, LI vice-president Markus Löning, FDP secretary general Nicola Beer, and LI treasurer Manfred Eisenbach welcomed Mr. Usupashvili to Germany.
“We gave David full support in the visa issue: Georgia has fulfilled the EU criteria and should be granted visa-free travel”, wrote VP Löning – Germany’s former Commissioner for Human Rights - before emphasising that “it would be an important sign of support for a country that has clearly oriented itself toward democracy, rule of law and human rights and the current government.”
Building on the discussion panels LI brought together in Georgia around regional and international security, the LI Vice President raised a discussion on Russia’s creeping annexation of Georgian territory. “We also discussed the tense situation around Karabach and the worries in Georgia about Russian troops in South Ossetia”, said Mr. Löning.
Delivering the inaugural Boris Nemtsov Award ceremony's keynote speech, LI Vice President on the bureau and Chair of LI Human Rights Committee, Markus Löning, commended the recipient, Lew Schlossberg, one of the most prominent Russian opposition journalists and founder of LI member party Yabloko, for his steadfast commitment to the struggle for democracy in Russia.
"President Putin turned Russia into an authoritarian state ruled by a kleptocratic group. He is violating international law in Ukraine and Georgia and human rights of citizens in Russia. Our hearts and our solidarity are with those Russians fighting for democracy, human rights and peace with their neighbouring countries. They are our friends and partners. They are standing for the Russia we have close and friendly ties with“ said Löning.
Schlossberg was a Member of Parliament from Yabloko until last year in the Regional Parliament in Pskov when he became a target of the Russian authorities revealing the secret burials of Russian soldiers of the Pskov paratrooper division who had fallen in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 proving Russian involvement in the conflict. Shortly after he was stripped of his parliamentary mandate and brutally attacked on his way home escaping death on the edge.
Refusing to give in to scare tactics, Scholssberg founded the independent newspaper "Pskov and Velikie Luki Gubernija" through which he continues to voice the liberal opposition to the authoritarian tendencies of President Putin.
The award was established jointly by the Friedrich Naumman Foundation (FNF, LI Cooperating Organisation) and the Boris Nemtsov Foundation "for extraordinary achievement in fighting for democratic values and human rights as well as for a free Russia."
The Director of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation Olga Tikhomirova will address the annual LI Human Rights Committee meeting at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next week where she will deliver a powerful recount of the last days of the assassinated leader of the Russian liberal opposition Boris Nemtsov.
LI President: 'Orlando doubles our determination to fight prejudice'Thursday 16 June 2016 12:06 Expressing the sympathy of the global liberal family, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves, has vowed that Liberal International and its LGBTI working group, led by Chairman Frank van Dalen, will double in its determination to fight prejudice in the wake of the massacre of 50 people at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this week.
“Our LGBTI Working Group will continue to fight for equal rights. Horrific events like last night's in Orlando doubles our determination to fight violence, prejudice, and ignorance. Our solidarity is with the LGBTI community in Orlando and in the United States, and our strongest condemnation of this evil act", commented Dr. Minoves in the wake of the carnage.
My thoughts go to the victims of the senseless attack in #Orlando and their families. A sad day for the #LGBT-Community XB
Liberal International, the only political international with a human rights committee, has identified the advancement of LGBTI rights around the world as one of its primary areas of work for several years. In addition to speaking out in support of LGBTI persons, chairman Frank van Dalen has been active in defending, promoting and celebrating these rights around the world - from Uganda to Hong Kong.
Van Dalen, who recently addressed Tel Aviv Pride in Israel, gave an interview about empowering LGBTI personsworld-wide. “Be vocal and visible on the wrongdoings regarding LGBTI people because what is visible cannot be ignored and has to be dealt with”, the LI LGBTI Working Group Chair told Alturi. “What we [LI] help them [persecuted LGBTIs] with is to find strategies that they can use in advocating for LGBTI rights within the limited possibilities”, Frank explained.
VP Montealegre warns of coup d'etat in NicaraguaFriday 10 June 2016 11:06 The global liberal family is appalled that the authoritarian Sandinista National Liberation Front regime of Daniel Ortega has used the Supreme Court as its weapon to rob the official opposition - LI full member Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI) led by LI Vice-President on the Bureau Eduardo Montealegre - of its legal status as a political party ahead of presidential elections in the Central American country later this year.
“Sooner or later the Supreme Court will have to reverse this illegal and absurd ruling that opens the door to instability… To deny the people even the possibility of voting for an opposition force in the next elections, is pushing the country back to violence… This we cannot afford”, Mr. Montealegre told journalists in the capital, #Managua, yesterday.
In abusing the Supreme Court, Liberal International expresses concern that the Government of Nicaragua is not respecting the separation of powers of the state. The international community cannot continue to allow this abuse of power and contempt for principles and values that liberals from around the world hold dear. It is time for a principle of collective defence where democracy is endangered; disrespect of human rights and political rights in Nicaragua requires a convincing response from liberals worldwide.
ALDE Party Council welcomes new members; adopts policies on top European challengesThursday 9 June 2016 18:06 Just three weeks after Liberal International held its 196thExecutive Committee meeting in collaboration with hosts, Republican Party of Georgia (RPG – LI full member), on the frontier of Europe, in Tbilisi, Georgia, LI President Dr. Juli Minoves was in Vilnius, Lithuania, last weekend for the ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation) council meeting, where visa liberalisation between Georgia and the rest of Europe was also on the agenda.
Ahead of the Council meeting, LI President Minoves participated in the ALDE Party bureau meeting where, with ALDE Party President, Hans van Baalen MEP, plans to bring ALDE Party closer in to the global liberal family were confirmed. After the Council meeting, Dr. Minoves said: “The cooperation of LI with ALDE, historically strong, has been renewed and institutionalized with an agreement of support adopted by the ALDE bureau. This support, among other things, will further enhance the presence of LI at the United Nations, where we fight for human rights on a global level. It's a win-win situation for ALDE, LI and human rights in the world”
During his meetings in Vilnius, the LI president met with the Mayor of Vilnius, Mr. Remigijus Šimašius –of ALDE member Liberal Movement, who participated in the ALDE Council panel discussion on fighting corruption.
Delegates of the Council meeting also welcomed three new member parties into the ALDE Party family. Ciudadanos (Spain) led by Albert Rivera, Nowoczesna (Poland) founded in May 2015 by the economist Ryszard Petru, Witamy (Bosnia and Herzegovina) led by Predrag Kojović, and Civic Position (Ukraine) led by former Minister of Defence Anatoliy Hrytsenko who addressed LI’s human rights committee meeting on the Responsibility to Protect in Brussels in December 2015.
In addition to re-emphasising support for the choice of Georgia and Ukraine to take a European path, the Council urged the EU to work proactively with Turkey, noting that the EU should “work proactively with Turkey to improve the EU-Turkey agreement and its implementation to ensure that the agreement is consistent with international standards.”
- LI President Dr. Juli Minoves (right) meets Mayor of Vilnius Mr. Remigijus Šimašius
The ALDE Party Congress is set to take place in Warsaw, Poland in December 2016.
Expecting the final result of the state elections in Mexico, the leader of LI full member Nueva Alianza, Luis Castro Obregon, called on his followers to respect the democratic process and await and respect the official results: “The worst we can do to the country is to give rise to doubts on the electoral results. (…) Nueva Alianza is consolidating itself as a national political party with a sustained growth[.] We are not a territorial party or a party with succinct bases of support. We have been giving proof, in the 14 federal entities, that we have proposals, that we are responsible with regards to our political participation and communication and with regards to the results that strengthen us as a party.”
“We can confirm that we are strengthening our presence in each of the [State] Congresses and local authorities,” he added in confidence of the party’s electoral performance.
In Romania local elections provided an encouraging result ahead of the country’s legislative elections, due to be held in November.
“This is an important moment in which we mark our entrance to the political scene. (…) It is the first time that we participated after the creation of the party. After municipal elections last weekend ALDE-R has established itself as the third largest political force in the country,” said Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, former Prime Minister and leader of the Alianța Liberalilor și Democraților (ALDE-R, LI member), which was founded only early last year.
“At the moment we are able to form majorities in the boards of 27 counties,” he added on the party's success in the elections. ALDE-R became a member of LI at the 60th Congress, which was hosted by Nueva Alianza in Mexico City in October 2015.
7th ALDE-CALD forum discusses regional cooperation between Asia and EUThursday 9 June 2016 16:06In his capacity as ALDE Party (LI cooperating organisation) President, LI President of Honour Hans van Baalen MEP welcomed a large delegation from liberal parties in Asia to the European Parliament last week, as the 7th ALDE-CALD meeting convened with the aim of strengthening relations between liberals from the global East and West. The biennial meeting, which offers a forum for political engagement between two of LI’s regional organisations, was organised with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (LI Cooperating Organisation).
Members of the delegation of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD – LI Cooperating Organisation) included high-ranking liberals such as former Prime Minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party (LI full member), the politically prosecuted leader Sam Rainsy of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (LI full member) and Dr Martin Lee (LI Individual Member) of Hong Kong. Throughout the week the delegates met with members of the ALDE Group (LI full member) in the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the implications for regional integration of the financial crisis, the high influx of refugees and the rise of terrorism.
Abhisit: ASEAN should incorporate values in the process of community building #aldecald2016
A special session on Friday focused on the exchange between LI and CALD with regards to organisational structure, and the drafting process of the LI Manifesto (2017). The recently reconfirmed member of the LI Human Rights Committee and Chair of the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines, Chito Gascon, suggested that both CALD and ALDE could learn from LI and consider incorporating a dedicated Human Rights Committee in their work.
VP Falkner chairs Brexit debate two weeks ahead of crucial referendumThursday 9 June 2016 16:06With exactly two weeks remaining until the United Kingdom (UK) will determine the future of its relationship with the European Union (EU), in a referendum that could have a significant impact accross other EU member states, LI vice-president, Baroness Kishwer Falkner, has made the case for continuing the UK’s membership in a panel debate organised by the International Office of the Liberal Democrats (LI full member).
With international guests from LI member parties in Canada, Cyprus, and South Africa the LI vice-president steered the debate with contributors who have direct experience of referenda.
Speaking from South Africa, Stevens Mokgalapa MP of LI full member Democratic Alliance, made a practical case for Europe remaining in the EU, drawing on the lessons from his own country. “Economically the EU is the richest regional bloc in the world and its bargaining power makes it one of the most successful in the world. The UK is economically stronger in the EU and Africa needs a strong EU with Britain in it.”
Leader of the United Democrats (Cyprus – LI member) and former Minister, Praxoula Antoniadou, cautioned against complacency while making the case for the Remain campaign. “Hiding in our own room will not make the world outside safer… we need to work together with our neighbours… I appeal to my Cypriot compatriots not to take this referendum for granted… after 23rd June there is no going back”, said Ms. Antoniadou.
Former Member of Parliament from the Liberal Party of Canada (LI full member) turned academic, Professor John English, drew on his experience of referenda in Canada to warn against Britain leaving the European Union. “The EU will not embrace warmly a UK which has just ran away”, he noted as he referenced Canada’s free trade agreement with Europe, which has been under negotiation since the 1970’s.
The event was organised with the support of LI patron, Richard Moore.A full transcript of Professor English's speech can be accessed here.
LI advances NDI #NotTheCost call to action before UNHRCThursday 9 June 2016 15:06As part of its support for the National Democratic Institute's (NDI - LI cooperating organisation)#NotTheCost Campaign on ending violence against women in politics, Liberal International has taken the cause before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
In a written statement submitted to the 32nd Session of the UNHRC, LI has launched a call for action by urging the international human rights community to develop indicators and collect systematic data on the prevalence, forms and impact of violence against women in politics and to raise awareness of the global impact of the issue as a serious violation of international norms and national laws regarding democracy, human rights and gender equality.
The call has referenced LI's ongoing fight to promote and advance women's rights including efforts to draw attention to the need to globalize the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women along with committing liberal parliamentarians in government and opposition "to take a stand in their parliaments and urge their governments to speak up and assert that violence is not the cost for women’s political engagement."
Liberal International became an official partner to the #NotTheCost campaign during the official campaign launch event within the framework of the 60th Session of the UN Committee on the Status of Women in New York where LI President Dr. Juli Minoves committed the support of the organisation during his keynote speech to the event.
The full LI statement to the UNHRC can be accessed by clicking here.
Canadian Liberals echo 'real change in action'Friday 3 June 2016 11:06 The Canadian Liberals have met for their first biennial convention since the October 2015 election landslide, which saw Liberal Party of Canada (LPC – LI full member) emerge with a majority government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Receiving a standing ovation from delegates, PM Trudeau presented the "real change in action" - summary of bold liberal decisions taken by his gender-balanced cabinet. He promoted the constitutional changes that have transformed the LPC in to an "open movement". "By adopting our new constitution, our party has taken a bold step. One that will help us build the most open, innovative, and effective political movement in Canadian history. It opens up our policy process – making it more flexible and interactive for all Liberals to participate in," said Trudeau. He added: "And our work is just beginning. We will want even more input and feedback from Liberals from coast to coast to coast during the process of drafting the by-laws. I encourage you to stay tuned for details on the transition, and I look forward to working closely with you as we keep striving to make our movement even more open to Canadians and their ideas."
Emil Kirjas, LI Secretary General attended the Convention and met with the party leadership. He discussed the with LPC President Anna Gainey the unique party reform building a stronger party, a more open movement, and an ever better and brighter future for families and all Canadians. "LPC is welcome to take a leading role in sharing experiences on winning elections based on liberal values", said LI SG during the meeting.
- LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas meets Canadian Minister for International Trade, Chrystia Freeland
With Foreign Minister Stephan Dion, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and Defence Minister Harjat Singh, LI Secretary General discussed coordination of liberals in international institutions. "I am committed to advancing the agenda for global free trade, and in that sense coordination within Liberal International sets a good case", said Minister Freeland. At the Liberal Youth Biennial convention Kirjas addressed the importance of international engagement of the Canadian liberals.
Under the theme Imprisoned for Thinking, the Liberal International Human Rights Committee's (LI HRC) 4th annual meeting at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland is set to feature debates around freedom of expresson, assembly and thought drawing attention to some of the most grusome violations of these basic human rights around the world.
Taking place on 24th of June within the fringes of the 32nd Session of the UNHRC, this year's event will focus on the cases of several political prisoners and formerly imprisoned journalists debating the international decline of civil and political rights, and setting out a liberal strategy in offering a fight back for freedom.
The first debate titled Criminalization of Dissent: How Can We Reclaim the Right to Assemble and Speak Out will discuss how liberal politicians and civil society alike can work together to defeat the increasing number of authoritarian regimes in several parts of the world. Participants will have the opportunity to share their views on the on-going crack-downs on peaceful protests in many countries around the world while listening to testimonies from liberal politicians and civil society activists who have been harassed, threatened or imprisoned because of their activities.
Former Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi Alice Nzomukunda (Alliance Democratique Pour le Renouveau, LI full-member) will focus on the on-going civil unrest in her country while Olga Tikhomirova, Director of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom will deliver a powerful recount of the last days of the assassinated leader of the Russian liberal opposition Boris Nemtsov who was in the process of publishing powerful evidence proving Russia's involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Dr. Parfait Kolelas, Leader of the liberal opposition in Congo Brazzaville (MCDDI, LI member) will on the other hand share his experience of the brutal regime of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso who remained in office despite the highly disputed elections' result.
The second debate titled Freedom of Expression Denied: (Ab)use of the Press in an age of Terror and Oppression will see recently released former Al-Jazeera journalist and founder of the Fahmy Foundation for Freedom, Mohamed Fahmy, present his case on his unjust imprisonment by the Egyptian authorities and the attempt to silence him while in prison. Yavuz Baydar, Freelance Journalist from Tukey and Creator of P24: an Independent Journalism Platform, will add to the discussions by giving a personal account of the complete lack of freedom of expression and the media in Turkey: currently ranked 151st amongst the 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index 2016. Member of the Lebanese Parliament Khodr Habib (Future Movement, LI full-member) will share his perspective on the general decline of civil and political rights in the MENA region while using Lebanon as a positive example of what a liberal response to such violations can be.
LI HRC members, human rights parliamentarians, liberal politicians, diplomats and members of the civil society will have an opportunity to debate further how the Human Rights Committee of LI can be used as a tool to counter such negative tendencies around the world during the working lunch session foreseen in the programme.
Further, the LI Delegation led by LI President Dr. Juli Minoves and LI HRC Chair and LI VP on the Bureau Markus Loening, will have a bilateral briefing with the Slovenian Permanent Representation to the United Nations in Geneva, will offer all delegates a chance to discuss some of the issues raised during the event with one of the Representation's Human Rights Experts as Slovenia has sponsored a number of resolutions on the decline of civil and political rights before the UN Human Rights Council.
The meeting is being organised in cooperation with the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY, LI full-member), the Swedish International Liberal Center (SILC, LI cooperating organisation) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the European Parliament (LI full member). Keep up with the action and join in the discussion online using the hashtag #LIHRC on Twitter and Facebook.
LI Vice-President Markus Loening (FDP - LI full-member),has questioned the timing of the German Bundestag's passing of a resolution on the Armenian genocide at a time when cooperation with the Turkish government is needed to address the war in Syria and alleviate the suffering of 3 million refugees, in a statement published by the German media.
"We should focus on the pressing problems and not worsen the relationship with Turkey", said the former German Federal Commissioner, expressing surprise at the broad political consensus on the issue.
Loening, who also chairs LI Human Rights Committee, does not dispute the substantive content of the resolution, as the accusations towards the Turkish Genocide of Armenians are beyond dispute. However he argues that given the current foreign policy agenda "we have to act responsibly." The statement goes on to explain his view that Turkey is an indispensable partner in both the refugee issue as well as in solving the Syrian conflict and therefore the resolution is not helpful in making progress on these important policy issues nor does it have a positive effect on the integration of Turkish minority groups in Germany.
"Despite all the problems and legitimate criticism of the human rights situation, it is important to improve relations with Turkey so far as you can work together" he concluded.
In the same week that the statement was released, LI Past President Annemie Neyts (Open VLD - LI full-member), has headed the Belgian delegation at the UN Conference on the Mid-Term Review of the Istanbul Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which took place in Antaliya, Turkey.
Within the framework of the delegation's visit, Mrs.Neyts who is also the Minister of State of Beligum, took part in three panel discussions on Growth, Employment and Decent Work in the LDCs, Tackling Risks and Vulnerabilities and Taking Technology to the Last Mile respectively.
Commenting on the importance of the commitments made by developed countries to devote at least 50% of their official development assistance and at least 0,20 % of their GDP to least developed countries she said:"No development is sustainable in the absence of peace and good governance, and therefore in order to anchor development in any given society, it is indispensable to ensure the participation of women and girls."
Together with Benin, the State of Belgium co-facilitated the political declaration on the comprehensive high level mid-term review which was unanimously approved by the Conference. The declaration details both the weaknesses and the successes of the Program of Action for the Least Developed Countries.
LI President takes EC security outcomes to Middle East conference in DohaThursday 2 June 2016 16:06 At the invitation of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Liberal International President, Dr. Juli Minoves, has participated in the annual ‘Enriching the Middle East Conference’ in Doha, Qatar organised by UCLA's Center for Middle East Development. Dr. Minoves intervened in panels relating to the security-centred themes debated during LI’s 196th Executive Committee meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, a fortnight ago.
Dr. Minoves was active in taking some of the top subjects debated by liberals from around the world at LI’s most recent statutory events to the Middle East forum, including cyber security, the Syrian refugee crisis, global trade, as well as in the panel on US elections where the LI president discussed selection of candidates in the US. Pulling together the threads of debates to give an LI perspective, Dr. Minoves commented: “It has been useful to gather information on issues of pressing concern that we are tackling in the writing of the new liberal manifesto for the 21st century.”
At the conclusion on the three day event, the LI president added: "The annual UCLA conference gathers a number of high-level deciders who discuss the pressing political and economic issues of the Middle East and perspectives for the future. Drawing both from my academic and liberal political experience I tried to contribute to the debate on issues where a liberal perspective on migration and cyber freedom for example is more needed than ever.”
At the EC delegates from all LI member parties convened to discuss the state of play on international security - including the implications of the recent international deal with Iran and whether it constitutes a chance or a danger to security in an increasingly unstable world.
Discussion on the position of Iran in the international community was led by Michael Aastrup Jensen MP of Venstre (LI full member) of Denmark. “We've gone from a world-ending nightmare scenario to a nightmare scenario”.
In the light of the implication with Syria, Dan Kucawka, Director of International Relations for the National Security Ministry of Argentina for Union por la Libertad (LI member), affirmed: “The most important thing is understanding what are Iran's intentions.”
Taking into consideration the history of relations between Iran and the West, Annemie Neyts, LI Past President and representative of Open VLD (LI full member) of Belgium, added: “Entering the negotiations was the right choice, but the European nations should behave with more dignity and consistency.”
In the World Today Resolution the 60th LI Congress welcomed the initial success of the deal between Iran and the P5+1, yet cautioned that "the success of the deal will be judged by its implementation, [and] also by the capacity to transform the dialogue into a catalyst for positive change in the region of the Middle East."
"An authoritarian Iran where freedoms and human rights of its citizens are denied cannot be a factor of progress and stability. Congress invites member parties to intensify the efforts in working with opposition groups and civil rights organisations in Iran," the 60th Congress added.
EC Theme Conference discusses global security reformFriday 27 May 2016 13:05 At the main Conference panel of LI’s 196th Executive Committee in Georgia, titled ‘Countering expansionism and revisionism of global security mechanisms’, key speakers invited delegates to discuss how a liberal-centred approach based on freedom and openness can deliver robust regional security.
The session, which opened with keynote speeches by LI President Dr Juli Minoves-Triquell and the President of the Georgian Parliament and leader of the Republican Party (LI full member), David Usupashvili, concluded the two days of discussion on the current state of international security.
Dr Juli Minoves cautioned liberals not to see international security as a dichotomy. “International security should be seen as a multi-sum game of human, environment and culture,” he said.
Referring to the continuing Oxford Process on the drafting of the new Liberal Manifesto of 2017, the LI President also expressed a stark warning: “We can see that international democratic norms are eroding. We have to be aware of the rise of authoritarianism all around the world and speak out against this trend of 'illiberal' governance.”
In his address David Usupashvili looked ahead to the implications of the EC's conclusions around the world. “A liberal approach of openness and freedom is needed for a reform of global security mechanisms”, he said, arguing in favour of strengthening of regional actors.
The following discussion, led by Judith Pallarés MP of the PLA (LI full member) of Andorra, invited Tinatin Khidasheli, the Minister of Defence of Georgia, and Roman Jakic, former Minister of Defence of Slovenia, to reflect on the implications for international and regional security arrangements.
“The European Union must speak with one voice against Russia," Minister Khidasheli emphasised and added: "Georgia is an opportunity for NATO to showcase itself as a success story.”
Cyber-security is one of main international challenges, concludes ECFriday 27 May 2016 13:05 Discussing various aspects of the theme 'Safeguarding Freedom and Security' delegates at the Executive Committee Meeting in Georgia concluded that the rise in online crime and state-orchestrated infringements of privacy are one of the key challenges for international security in the 21st century.
Hosted by the European Liberal Forum (LI Cooperating Organisation) the Ralf Dahrendorf Roundtable on 'Cyber-Security: how to deal with threats from abroad?', focused on liberal solutions to cyber-crime, without compromising the right to personal privacy. The session was opened by the Vice-President of ELF Dr. Jürgen Martens and moderated by Lennart Salemink, Political Adviser to the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure, and member of VVD (LI full member). Former Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus MP urged for the adoption of national cyber security strategies, while Davit Chilashvili of Cyber Security Bureau of Georgia informed about the frequent cyber-attacks perpetrated by Russia in Georgia and mentioned limited human resources as major obstacle to tackling cyber-crime. Christian Scharling, former President of IFLRY and representative of Det Radikale Venstre of Denmark (both LI full members), underlined the importance of the topic for young people everywhere: “Cyber-crime is one of the biggest threats to security today and reminded that the response to cyber should be proportioned”.
As part of LI's 196th Executive Committee Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, LI President Dr Juli Minoves led a sizeable delegation on a field visit to inspect the Line of Occupation, for the international community to observe first-hand the creeping annexation of Georgian territory by Russia.
In the face of the Russian advance, the delegation exchanged first-hand experience with an 83 year old man, who spoke on the struggle of living in an occupied territory, and its implications for those trapped inside the occupated lands with regards to access to healthcare and education.
Dr Juli Minoves underlined the importance of witnessing this physical separation: "We have to understand that this is not the Europe that we want to build – we want a Europe without borders."
Former Foreign Affairs Minister and current Leader of the Opposition of Nicaragua, LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre MP, denounces Nicaragua's recognisition of occupied South Ossetia in front of the international media.
A former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current leader of the opposition in Nicaragua - one the few countries around the world that legitimse the occupation by recognising South Ossetia as a separate state - LI Vice-President Eduardo Montealegre denounced the policies of the illegitimate Government of Daniel Ortega in front of the assembled media.
"This government represents neither the will nor the feeling of the Nicaraguan people," he asserted.
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Member of Parliament of Estonian Reform Party (LI full member), spoke on the changing nature of international affairs in Europe: "It's remarkable how Russia, with its expansionist policies, is changing the environment in Europe, especially in countries like Georgia or Ukraine, where this topic is not an intellectual debate but a real change in everyday life"
"This is a change into a more unpredictable and unsecure reality," she asserted.
Secretary-General of the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC - LI Cooperating Organisation), Martin Ängeby, denounced the seemingly recurrent isolationism: "Walls have have been built before, and they have to be turned down again, on the basis of the power of principles of liberal countries."
Executive Committee confirms new Human Rights CommitteeFriday 27 May 2016 12:05 From 20 to 22 May the Republican Party of Georgia (LI full member) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (LI Cooperating Organisation) welcomed liberals from around the world to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, to discuss the increasingly central theme of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’ - as well as to confirm the mandate of the members of LI’s increasingly important Human Rights Committee.
At the Administrative Session of the Executive Committee Meeting, delegates discussed the state of governance affairs inside Liberal International since their last meeting in Mexico City in October 2015 and adopted an urgency resolution on South Africa (available here).
Presented with almost two dozen nominations for the Committee, delegates unanimously confirmed the mandate of the new Human Rights Committee. Liberal International is the only political international organisation with a dedicated Human Rights Committee to bring together the work of civil society and politics and advocate it in front of the United Nations.
The confirmed member of the Human Rights Committee are:
LI Vice-President Markus Löning (Chair), FDP, Germany;
Abir Al-Sahlani, Centerpartiet, Sweden;
Assiatou Bah-Diallo, UFDG, Guinea;
Bouchra Barrijal, UC, Morocco;
Phil Bennion, LIBG, UK;
Naomi Blumenthal, ILG, Israel;
Lourdes Ciuro i Buldo, LliD, Spain (Catalonia);
Neda Dabovic, LPCG, Montenegro;
BaronessLynne Featherstone, LibDems, UK;
Chito Gascon, CALD, Philippines;
Boris van der Ham, D66, the Netherlands;
Pauline Kastermans, IFLRY, the Netherlands;
Ilhan Kyuchyuk, MRF, Bulgaria;
Dr Ching-yi Lin MP, DPP, Taiwan;
Lilli Loebsack, DGLI, Germany;
Rosemary Machua, ODM, Kenya;
Christian Mayanda, MCDDI, Congo (Brazzaville);
Khadija el-Morabit, INLW, Morocco;
Stevens Mokgalapa, DA, South Africa;
Medard Mulangala, ALN, DR Congo;
Marina Schuster, FDP, Germany;
Anna Nilsson-Söderström, SILC, Sweden.
The HRC is set to convene for the first time in its new composition in the margin of the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24 June this year.
Delegates discuss importance of freedom of belief to counter DaeshFriday 27 May 2016 11:05 Under the theme of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’, liberals present at the 196th Executive Committee Meeting in Tbilisi discussed various aspects of international security – including the need to promote the Freedom of Belief and to protect regional and international stability from the threat posed by Daesh.
In the early morning on Friday D66 (LI full member) of the Netherlands organised a fringe meeting led by LI HRC Member Boris van der Ham on the Freedom of Belief – a subject that was adopted as the fourth pillar of the LI Human Rights Project at the 194th EC in Hong Kong in November 2014. On the basis of the documentary ‘Among non-believers’, Van der Ham underlined the importance of the separation of church and state.
LI HRC Member Boris van der Ham discusses Freedom of Belief with the EC Delegates.
“In democracies citizens need to be able to freely challenge dogmas. The abolition of blasphemy laws is of central importance to the spread of liberty and free-thinking,” he said. “Blasphemy laws are not only a threat to atheists but also to religious minorities. The biggest life stance in the world, after Christianity and Islam, is the group of the non-affiliated, which includes atheists, agnostics, humanists, and the liberally religious. They face major problems in the world, such as discrimination and even the death penalty. Liberals must stand up for the rights of this growing group,” Van der Ham asserted.
Under guidance of Kerstin Lundgren MP of Centerpartiet (LI full member) of Sweden on Saturday delegates discussed how the world can unite to oppose the global threat of Daesh.
The Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia, Ivlian Haindrava, contributed to the debate by outlining that “whether we like it or not, the West will be accused of fighting Islam and this will have an impact on youngsters everywhere.”
“Islamic institutions such as Al Azhar must help in the fight against Daesh,” he added.
Speaking of how socioeconomic reasons in Belgium contribute to radicalisation Jean-Jacques Flahaux MP of Mouvement Reformateur (LI full member) of Belgium said that “we must pay close attention to proper integration of minorities in society”.
Zozan Berwari of KDP (LI Partner) of Kurdistan informed the EC delegates of the strategy of the Kurdish peshmergas to stop Daesh’s advance in northern Iraq and Syria and of the likely independence referendum that the Kurdish are considering organising: “Iraq increasingly is a failed state. The Kurdish wish to be part of it no longer. The borders of the Middle East are changing, as Sykes-Picot has come to an end.”
Former President of the Arab Liberal Federation (LI Cooperating Organisation), Mohamed Tamaldou of Union Consitutionelle (LI full member) of Morocco, emphasised the need to find a coherent solution: “The question is now whether we decide to fight radicalism or terrorism. The answer is pertinent. (…) This problem cannot be resolved without adhering to liberal values. That is what our parties have to spread in our societies.”
Analysing the West’s efforts to combat religious fundamentalism at its root, former Prime Minister of Senegal and leader of REWMI (LI member), Idrissa Seck, argued that more should done to address global inequalities: “We have to combat Daesh with education. Funding a classroom is much less costly than buying a couple of second-hand tanks.”
LI Delegation discusses regression of democracy in TurkeyThursday 26 May 2016 18:05 Directly following the Executive Committee Meeting in Georgia, a delegation of the LI Bureau visited Istanbul. In direct conversations with various representatives of civil society the delegation discussed how receding press freedoms, the mounting numbers of refugees and the slowly dissipating separation of power accumulates to the overall regression of democracy in Turkey.
With support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (LI Cooperating Organisation) the delegation, which was led by LI Vice-President Robert Woodthorpe Browne and LI Treasurer Manfred Eisenbach met with representatives of amongst others the Hrant Dink Foundation, the Freedom Research Association, the 3H Movement and representatives of the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, Türkonfed.
"From our meetings the image emerged that Turkey is in the same position as Germany was in the mid-1930s. There are about 800 journalists who would be granted asylum in various European countries with immediate effect within 24 hours,” LI Vice-President on the Bureau Robert Woodthorpe Browne said, summarising the discussion with Turkish journalists. One of these journalists was Can Dündar, who recently revealed that the Turkish government is supplying weapons to jihadist groups in the Syrian civil war, and onlynarrowly survived an assassination attempt a mere three weeks before.
“There is a substantial risk that Turkey becomes a refugee-producing country when the Erdogan regime attempts to arrest some of the Kurdish Parliamentarians,” LI Vice-President Browne added on the risk that the country descends into a state of civil war.
The LI Delegation together with journalist Can Dündar.
At the 60th LI Congress in Mexico City delegates expressed deep concern for “the authoritarian display of disproportionate and excessive force by government institutions in response to peaceful and legitimate protests” and was “alarmed by continuing attempts to introduce legislation aimed at censoring access to internet and free media.” The Congress also expressed regret for “the lack of progress in addressing Armenian and Kurdish issues” and labelled the increased presidential powers for the Turkish leader Recept Tayip Erdogan as “dangerous”.
Touch hearts to change minds and policies, says LI SG at IDAHO ForumFriday 13 May 2016 11:05 Ellen Trane Nørby, the Danish Minister for Children, Education and Gender Equality from Venstre (LI full member) hosted this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – IDAHO Forum 2016 in Copenhagen, gathering a number of European ministers, politicians and representatives from various organisations and institutions. “IDAHO Forum 2016 is an important part of the struggle to break down the taboos regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, to stop discrimination and harassment and to strengthen cooperation across Europe,” said the Minister at the opening.
The Forum’s debates focused on LGBTI-conditions in the workplace and social acceptance of LGBTI-people for example in ethnic minority communities. The Danish liberal Minister identified these themes as “areas where the personal freedom to be with the one you want and freely choose your partner is under pressure.” She said “the struggle is needed” as throughout Europe “too many LGBTI-people are still excluded from equal participation in the society.”
Speaking on behalf of EU’s governing body – the European Commission, Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality (from ALDE member ANO, Czech Republic), presented the List of actions to advance LGBTI Equality: “This list is the Commission's commitment to work concretely on increasing the social acceptance of all our citizens and on reducing the homophobia and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation". Commissioner Jourová expressed the Commission's commitment to continue working on the adoption of the Equal Treatment Directive which envisages full protection of the rights of LGBTI people in the area of goods and services.
Liberal International Secretary General Emil Kirjas addressed the Forum on his personal life experience on social acceptance as member of the LGBTI community. He presented the important work that Liberal International and the liberals across the world are doing in promoting an end of LGBTI discrimination. “This is not a struggle about some special rights. Our work is to end any form of discrimination in the society and in front of the law,” said Kirjas. Emphasising the achievements in Africa in cooperation with the Africa Liberal Network (LI cooperating organisation) he appealed for close cooperation between political parties and civil societies in order to achieve “a real change”. “In many societies majority of people are unaware of the essence of the problem,” he said, before adding that the broad cooperation should focus on “touching the hearts of the people, in order to change mind-sets and alter discriminatory legislation.”
The present Ministers signed a non binding Memorandum of Understanding, committing to fight against homophobia and transphobia. The signatories recognize that LGBT people are an asset to society, that LGBT inclusion is good for the economy, that international cooperation is beneficial, but that there is still work to be done.
LI’s 196th Executive Committee meeting will be more accessible than ever before with the launch of a tailored EC App, which includes details about the programme, speakers, and event locations. Stay up to date and read on to find out how to download it to your smartphone or tablet now.
Based on the same technology used for the 60th Congress in Mexico City, the EC app allows delegates to access everything they need to know – from timetables to event panel speakers and locations - about the EC in one, easy-to-navigate, application.
LI has compiled a step by step user guide that explains how to download the app, which can be found here.
If delegates need further help with the navigation of the app, having downloaded it, an additional user guide – available here – explains how to access each section including information about the congress schedule, participants, maps, and social media.
A printable version of the most up to date programme can be found here.
Real time updates from the EC will be made via LI’s social media channels on facebook and twitter and delegates can engage with the action by using the hashtag #LIEC.
Georgian Minister of Defence invites EC participants to witness occupation lineThursday 12 May 2016 19:05 In the same week it was announced that a joint US-UK-Georgia military exercise will take place – with the US shipping tanks across the Black Sea for the first time – the Georgian Minister of Defence, Hon. Tinatin Khidasheli (RPG - LI full member) will host LI Executive Committee delegates for a study mission to the Russian line of occupation, among a series of culture and political visits that form part of the EC programme.
The conference, which is LI’s first in the former Soviet Union, focuses on the theme of ‘Safeguarding Freedom and Security’ and will shine a light on Russia's creeping annexation of Georgian territory, some 40 kilometres from Tbilisi.
As a part of the programme of the EC, the Georgian Minister of Defence, Tinatin Khidasheli, is inviting delegates to join a special visit to the ‘Line of Occupation’, up to where the Russian forces have advanced into Georgia’s sovereign territory. Before the visit to the demarcation line, delegates are taken to Georgia’s age-old capital and unique UNESCO-heritage of Mshketa.
The programme in Georgia, which remains the only democracy in the Caucasus, features discussion on a range of themes including Cyber-Security, Iran and Daesh.
On Sunday participants of the EC will have the opportunity to join for an optional cultural visit, including a unique visit to a winery in one of the wine regions that dates back to 8000 years and is among the oldest in the world. Those delegates who would like to participate are kindly requested to contact the LI Secretariat.
LI Secretary General meets liberals from Argentina and HondurasFriday 6 May 2016 01:05 Eliminating corruption, fighting populist economic policies and transparent governance are common commitments of the liberals from central and south America. That was concluded during a meeting of liberal parliamentarians from Argentina and Honduras who met in the presence of LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas at the Buenos Aires office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (LI cooperating organisation).
Gabriela Nuñez, leader of the parliamentary group of Partido Liberal de Honduras (LI full member), together with Paula Marcela Urroz and María Paula Lopardo, national Congresswomen from Union por la Libertad of Argentina (LI member) discussed together with FNF (LI cooperating organisation) Director for Argentina Jörg Denhert the strategies to achieve the joint objectives.
"The situation in Honduras is very grave, as our government is both corrupt and incompetent", said Ms. Nuñez. She added that Partido Liberal is working on a "completely new penal code" and reforms in the electoral code, "where ideas from colleagues in Argentina would be welcome." Saying that "Argentina needs to bring its electoral code in line with technological advancements", Congesswoman Urroz committed to working together, aiming at "removing the clear examples of fraud" seen across elections in Latin America.
At the headquarters of Union por la Libertad, LI Secretary General Emil Kirjas was welcomed by Dr. Guillermo Yanco, who was recently elected the new president of the party. Together with Dan Kucawca, member of the party executive board and foreign affairs advisor of the Minister of National Security, the LI Secretary General briefed on the "necessary and painful reforms" performed by the Argentinian coalition government in which the party participates. "We have adopted a party strategy which is based on honesty and humility", said Dr Yanco, expressing firm commitment to "be the clear liberal voice in the Argentinian government."
At the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF - LI cooperating organisation), LI Vice-President on the Bureau Markus Löning, has travelled to Kiev where, during a a panel discussion on the human rights situation in Crimea, Donbass and Luhansk, he called for an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation.
Opening the debate, Mr. Loening, who also chairs LI's Human Rights Committee, emphasized the deteriorating state of human rights in the occupied territories and called for an independent investigation by the ICC. "Both parties to the conflict commit human rights violations, but the occupied territories are a lawless country where slave labour and torture are rampant.The west must keep up sanctions against Russia to pressure it to stop the aggression. There should be investigations and lawsuits at the International Criminal Court against people who are responsible for crimes against humanity."
The core point of the discussions focused on whether Germany, the OSCE, the Ukrainian government and other international organisations are doing enough to stabilise the conflict in Ukraine. All participants of the panel agreed that the human dimension of the conflict requires greater attention.
Speaking alongside the former chaiman of the National Security and Defence Council Volodymyr Horbulin, journalists from Donetsk and representatives from the Crimean Tartars, Loening also pointed out to the need to secure free and fair elections in Eastern Ukraine but only upon the departure of all Russian soldiers from the conflict areas. "There is no way that free and fair elections can take part in the occupied parts of Ukraine at the moment. So western countries should insist that these elections can only take place after Russian soldiers have left the country and freedom of citizens and political parties is guaranteed as the OSCE standards for free and fair elections demand" he said.
Within the framework of the meeting, Loening held several bilateral meetings with liberal partners in Ukraine in regards to the current political situaiton in the country including with the Former Minister of Defence Mr. Anatoliy Grytsenko, who addressed the recent LI HRC meetingon the ten year anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect principle at the European Parlaiment in Brussels.