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close this bookGlobal Awareness Raising Project for Eastern Europe (North South Centre, 1994)
close this folderPrague workshop
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View the documentIntroductory speeches
View the documentPlenary session - Presentation
View the documentPlenary session - Discussions
View the documentPresentations on ''Practical aspects of awareness-raising activities''
View the documentPanel discussion: "The Role of the media in influencing public opinion"
View the documentPlenary debate: ''The role of the media in influencing public opinion''
View the documentWorking group conclusions and recommendations

Introductory speeches

'The Challenge of Global Interdependence"

Mr Jos Lemmers,
Executive Director,
European Centre for Global Interdependence and
Solidarity, Council of Europe ("North-South Centre")

Thank you Chairperson,

I would like to join you and Mr Jan Pakulski in welcoming the participants to this part of a series of three meetings which the North-South Centre is organising in Eastern Europe. The themes of the series are the promotion of global awareness and the creation of a sense of belonging, not only to our national or even to our European societies, but to a world society in which we all share the responsibility of caring for global problems. I would like to start by telling two stories which, in my mind, symbolise the challenge a conference of this kind presents.

The first story comes from Mr Thor Heyerdahl, a famous Norwegian explorer interested in the global environment. Shortly after World War II, he was on a flight from the United States to Europe. At one point, while on board the plane, he noticed that the service had suddenly improved quite considerably. People were supplied with even more drinks and he noticed a certain nervousness on the part of the stewardesses. He could not help but look out of the window and noticed that the propeller on the engine on his side of the plane was slowing down. There seemed to be a technical problem. So he turned to his corpulent neighbour on the other side, who was eating, and said to him: "Sorry to disturb you, but I think the engine on my side is breaking down." The gentleman, slightly disturbed that his meal was being interrupted, looked out of his own window and said: "The engine on my side seems to be alright. Thank God, I am not sitting on your side."

This story symbolises how people tend to look at the world community, either - as in the past - in terms of "East-West" or today in terms of "North-South". There seems to be a neglect of interdependence, even though we are all in the same boat.

The second story concerns a British general from World War I, who, being tired of the war, had retired to France. One day, he told his gardener that he would like to grow an olive tree. The gardener commented that it takes a rather long time for an olive tree to bloom. The gentleman then said: "Well, I was going to offer you a cup of tea, but in that case we are in an even greater hurry, are we not? You had better plant the tree right now!"

The point is that, on the one hand, interdependence is a reality and on the other, even longer term changes are urgent. These changes may take a long time, but that does not mean that one should not get on with it now. It is with this in mind that the Council of Europe decided, at the end of its North-South Campaign in 1988, to set Up a centre within the Council of Europe which would be devoted to raising public awareness in Europe about global interdependence and the need for new policies of solidarity between the North and the South.

In this spirit, the North-South Centre was set Up with a rather Unique composition. Although it is part of an inter-governmental body with member States, the governing bodies are not only composed of governments, but also of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), parliamentarians and local authorities. These are directly represented on the board of the Centre, forming a so-called "quadrilogue". This is a four-way partnership, ensuring that the important challenges of North-South relations are not only left to governments, civil servants and the international organisations. The people themselves, organised in NGOs, as well as their elected representatives parliamentarians at national level and town councillors at local level - are also responsible for showing concern for the new type of interdependent world community in which we are now living.

I would like to begin my introduction with three short points. The first point pertains to the New World Order, the second to the changes in Europe during the last few years and their impact on the world community at large and the last relates to global interdependence. By way of conclusion I shall present a few points which, in my view, might be considered by the workshop during the next couple of days.

Concepts of the New World Order

I am not referring to the concept as launched by President Bush, but, instead, I am going back in history to the ideas for the New International Economic Order (NIEO). The concept of a NIEO was launched approximately 20 years ago in the 1970s and was very much inspired by the nations of the Group of 77 (G-77), the group of countries from the developing world.

In the 1970s, the developing countries were hopeful that, thanks to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) cartel, oil prices could be raised and the South could make a bid on the world market. They hoped that, after the price of oil, the prices of other commodities would also increase. The nations of the South hoped that this would provide them with a more reasonable share of the world community's wealth. We all know what happened. Despite majority resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly and a few hopeful discussions in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the reality was that a minority of powerful nations continued to decide the course of international trade and the prices of commodities. The NIEO subsequently failed.

This was 15 years ago and since then certain lessons have been learned. Lessons concerning the character of change required for the installation of a new type of world order and lessons regarding the range of issues covered by such a world order, as well as the scope of such a complex interdependent relationship. As far as the character is concerned, I believe that we have learned that change, especially global change, cannot be declared simply by passing a resolution in the UN's General Assembly. The adoption of a Charter of Economic Rights and Duties and of a programme establishing a NIEO, constituting a new blueprint is not enough to bring about change. Change can only be a process and, unfortunately but necessarily, a complex and long term process. The second lesson concerns the range of issues covered. The emphasis 20 years ago was on the economy. It was felt that a NIEO was what was basically required. At the time, however, there was little awareness that problems of economic relations cannot be divorced from the major challenges of the global environment, peace and disarmament and of the establishment of democratic societies with respect for human rights and the possibility of people living a life of dignity.

This range of issues needs to be taken into consideration in any new concept of world order. The scope of relations also needs to be widened beyond discussions between North and South as they took place in the 1970s. Change cannot be reduced to relations between two monolithic blocks of North and South, but is also required on the inside of our Northern societies, in terms of lifestyle, environmental policies and our claim on the world's resources. Change is, of course, also needed in the South with respect to overcoming dictatorships, often created or maintained with open or silent support of East or West, but in neither case serving the needs of the people. Respect for human rights in Southern societies, is also a very important part of the scope of change. Change between the North and the South should not only take place between blocks, but should amount to taking joint responsibility for the global situation at large. Many of the problems which are described as those of the South are really problems which concern the world as a whole. How can one say that poverty is a problem of the South? Global poverty is a global problem which requires a response of solidarity from all of humanity.

Changes in Europe and the Impact on the World

The end of the Cold War created considerable assessment problems for European policy makers. At the beginning of these changes in Europe we were informed about the possibility of a peace dividend. After the arms race, it was said that funds could finally become available to take care of more important problems, like poverty in the South. Unfortunately, the peace dividend of the end of the Cold War did not materialise in economic terms and additional resources have not become available.

However, on a more optimistic note, one may conclude that there is an alternative form of peace dividend. Both the East and the West now have other priorities than to pour more money into competing Third World societies. Some arms exports and the often artificial build-up of local conflicts by projecting the Cold War situation, have come to an end. This, at least, is one sign of hope for a number of societies in the South. Similarly, the transformation of Europe into a community of democratic societies means that many dictators in the South can no longer claim the validity of an alternative type of democracy, to use euphemistic terms. It is clear that this has a positive impact on the situation in Africa. Some of the warlords have been starved out of business and, consequently, there is a better chance that more attention will be paid to the real problems of establishing democracy and dealing with issues such as health and education rather than the building up of armies.

However, as I have pointed out, in financial terms, Europe has not increased its commitment to the South. Instead, it seems to have become increasingly concerned about itself. Central and East European societies are going through such a complex process of transformation that no priority can be given to the problems of the South. Furthermore Western Europe is called upon to contribute, financially and otherwise, to strengthen the process of democratic build-up in these societies and their transformation into market economies. The South has, once again, come out as the loser.

Global Interdependence

Recalling the anecdote of the aeroplane, today's question is whether we can afford to be labelled just as "Europeans" and to simply look at our own problems. We are part of the global situation, i.e. of a global reality. Poverty in the South is part of global poverty and we should not ignore that poverty in Europe, in the West and in Central and Eastern areas is also rising as a result of the social and economic transformation of societies.

Against this background of rising Euro-centrism it seems ironic that, with no funding available for the peace dividend and development assistance, it was suddenly possible to bring about a huge mobilisation of resources for the Gulf War. I am not arguing that it was the right of Saddam Hussein to invade a neighbouring country, but it is, nevertheless, significant to note here that it was a case of selective indignation of the world community regarding this specific case, after other similar cases in recent history had been ignored. This selective indignation might also reflect a new uni-polar approach to solving global problems. Who controls the UN? What is the responsibility of the one remaining superpower? And what are the responsibilities of Europe and other parts of the planet in the democratic management of global problems?

Global interdependence means that we must accept to live together on this planet and try to solve our problems collectively in a more democratic way than in the past. There is a need for some form of global democratisation, instead of global apartheid. We all cheered and cherished the end of apartheid in South Africa, as it was intolerable that a white minority was running a society where the black majority were so poor and had so few rights. If one looks at the world community as a whole, there is also a white minority running the show and closing the doors of privileged regions to the black majority who are confined to their own poor countries. There is a growing sentiment that refugees should stop knocking on our doors. But, at the same time, what is Europe doing to ensure that the problems of those countries are resolved? Do refugees choose to come to Europe because they admire our wonderful countries? Is it not rather a choice forced by the realities of disrespect for global interdependence? Is this situation not provoked by a lack of solidarity of humanity as a whole in dealing with these common problems?


In conclusion, I would like to submit four points to the conference for consideration in terms of joint responsibility in an interdependent world:

* global interdependence is a reality which cannot be ignored. Problems concerning economics, the environment, human rights, democracy, peace and development cannot be solved separately. Global management of global problems is necessary and even unavoidable;
* global management should not be based on prospects of a unipolar approach and efforts must be made, as soon as possible, to ensure the democratisation of the world community at large. This should be reflected in the appropriate reform of the UN, the Security Council and other institutions as part of a new approach;
* any new world order should be based on the principle of democracy, people's participation and respect for human rights. A person is not the property of any State. Therefore, where people suffer from a violation of human rights, humanity has a duty to intervene and to not allow people to starve, be suppressed or be subject to political and other forms of torture;
* partnership should replace the former colonial and neo-colonial relations at a world level. We have more in common as human beings and nations than what separates us. This requires solidarity, i.e. a joins sense of responsibility to solve common world problems. In this connection, I might also stress that migration and its consequences and symptoms should constitute the "writing on the wall" which we are living today in Germany, France, Italy and even countries like Sweden, where xenophobia has become a growing symptom of lack of respect for human rights. We should, above all, remember that we have not so much inherited this planet from our parents to do with it whatever we like, but we are borrowing it from our children as well. And that creates a large common responsibility.

(This statement was presented at the opening of the Prague and Budapest workshops to set the tone for discussions).

"The North-South issue in the light of current Czech and Slovak Foreign Policy"

Mr Pavel Bechny,
Co-ordinator, North-South Relations for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic

North-South: Bases of the Czech and Slovak position

The disintegration of the bi-polar system in Europe and the end of the Cold War between the East and the West, constitutes a principal turning point from, amongst others, the viewpoint of dialogue between the rich, industrial North and the poor, developing South.

Many Third World countries, by no means share Europe's enthusiasm for the unexpected course of events that took place. On various occasions they have expressed certain fears as current developments in Europe occupy European countries to such an extent that they fail to pay due attention to the question of the South. Post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, with its ever growing financial requirements and efforts to attract as much foreign capital as possible, constitutes a dangerous rival for the developing South. Its gradual integration into the economic and political structures of the West may result in the emergence of new protective barriers in world trade. Political destabilisation, accompanying the process of transformation in Central and Eastern Europe, could easily turn into an open crisis, an example of which is the case of Yugoslavia or the developments in post-Soviet territories and its consequences will worsen, rather than improve, the global situation.

Changes in Europe at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s were the result of positive trends in the development of international relations, thus also greatly contributing to their strengthening. After the ideology justifying the division of the world proved groundless, the ideas of political pluralism, the market economy and protection of human rights became more universal. The overwhelming majority of states, at various levels of development, currently agree with the need for principal and systematic changes based on these ideas. On the other hand, these positive changes have so far not materialised. The differences in levels of development, and thus of security existing between states, have been deepened further and are beginning to constitute the main threat to the international consensus which is still very unstable.

The elimination of the former bi-polar structure of the world has led to a conceptual change, particularly in Czech and Slovak policy pursued in Europe (the political economic and security aspect) and has put new demands also on the Czech and Slovak approach to the so-called Third World problem. In the past, we approached it in two ways based on the transplantation of the love dividing Europe to non-European regions. The ideological criteria implemented in Czech and Slovak foreign policy did not allow to approach the Third World problem in the context of North-South and South-South relations. The Czech and Slovak position within North-South proceeds from three factors. First, the efforts of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to reintegrate into European political, economic and security structures. Secondly, the fact that some of the developing countries can play an important role in the recovery of the Czech and Slovak economy and the economic development of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Thirdly, the interest in co-operation of the developing countries in trying to establish starting positions for economic enterprising in the East.

The position of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic in the North-South dialogue proceeds from the fact that in respect to its level of development, traditionally and by its ambitions, it is ranked among the countries of the North, rather than by its current indexes, while it does not qualify for the political, security and development structures of the most advanced states. In the event of the escalation of the conflict between the most advanced and the developing states, these circumstances would considerably weaken the possibilities of adaptation of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to new conditions as compared to the more advanced, integrated states of the North. At the same time, it is necessary to reckon with a differentiated approach of the countries of the South to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the traditional partners of the North.

The risks arising for the Czech and Slovak Republic from a possible escalation of the North-South conflict include particularly:

* an armed conflict outside the CSCE framework which would for a long time divert the attention of the advanced states from European affairs and exhaust the means necessary for stabilisation in Central and Eastern Europe;
* a gradual weakening of effectiveness, or even the collapse, of mechanisms of multilateral economic and trade co-operation, the growth of protectionism and a trade war;
* an uncontrollable influx of refugees, accompanied by increased social tension and the growth of nationalist tendencies, destabilising democratic institutions in European states;
* the weakening of co-operation between states with different levels of development in combating drug trafficking, international terrorism and organised crime;
* the lagging of North-South co-operation in increasing ecological safety behind the deteriorating situation in environmental protection.

It will be in the interest of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to prevent an escalation of the North-South conflict and, in general, to prevent the emergence of situations in which the line dividing the North and the South would become sharply visible. The Czechoslovak interest rests in a political solution of this relation, not in its politisation.

North South: Development, Trends and Czechoslovak Interests

The picture of current North-South relations is full of contradictions. These are a series of examples of development towards more constructive co-operation, but also of tougher approaches on both sides. The end of the East-West conflict has outlined more favourable prospects of integration of the international community. At the same time, there is more scope in the international system for tendencies towards the shaping of regional megablocs with their own centres and peripheries of development, with controversial co-operation between the North and the South increasingly taking place within these frameworks. Apart from tension existing between the North and the South, rivalry has also been growing among the advanced states (the US - Japan, the US - the EC, Japan - the EC). The negative consequences of this rivalry are reflected, in the first place, at the periphery of the megablocs. The states of the South are gradually showing interest in the prevention of the outbreak of this rivalry.

Besides the "traditional" themes, such as nuclear safety, an ever growing role in the North-South dialogue is played by the so-called new themes of the international agenda: ecology, drugs and human rights. At first, they make the differences in views between the advanced and the developing states, formerly hidden by a curtain of Cold War, more visible. Then, gradually, they strengthen the awareness of mutual dependency and help maintain the interest of the North in dialogue with the South. With the end of East-West confrontation, the international framework of North-South relations is changing fundamentally. The global security and development structures are becoming universal, along with growing internal pressures on their principal adaptation to new needs. The prospects for the North-South dialogue will, in many ways, depend on their results so that the coming years will be of crucial importance in this sense.

At the end of East-West bloc antagonism, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is undergoing a crisis of identity, but it would be immature to speak of its disintegration. Attention is now concentrated on whether the NAM should and could become an instrument of the South in its dialogue with the North, or whether it is more an instrument for developing co-operation within the states of the South. The tendencies currently appearing range from a move towards closer contacts, interaction of the Movement with the mechanisms of the UN (especially the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development), efforts towards an organisational strengthening and independence of structures of the NAM, the extension of its functions and the number of its members to the transformation of the NAM into an analogue of the UN - without the most advanced states. The disintegration or a lasting immobilisation of the Non-Aligned Movement would most likely lead to the further growth of international instability and complicate efforts to make certain radical regimes abide by the norms of international law. The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would, therefore, rather welcome a gradual transformation of the NAM, the re-orientation of its priorities towards the problems of development and new themes and the strengthening of interaction between the NAM and such organisations as UNCTAD. Czechoslovakia can contribute to shaping a more coherent approach to unifying Europe towards the NAM. The shaping of these autonomous development structures, reducing the demands for assistance put on the advanced states, undoubtedly corresponds to the interests of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and creates new possibilities of developing co-operation with the states of the South.
The tendencies towards regional integration are evident. What is, so far, not very clear are their consequences for international co-operation within the global scope. In the event of a more marked and longer lasting failure of global multilateral mechanisms, the centre of North-South relations is likely to shift to the level of macro-regions. Some sort of tension, however, can grow between their centres and the shaping periphery (for example Mexico - the US, ASEAN - Japan) the failure of solutions at a global level would at the same time stimulate the shaping of common interests towards the other macro-regions. Certain tendencies can be approximately defined within the current processes of sub-regional, regional and inter-regional integration as follows:

* After the end of East-West global confrontation, there has been a tendency to grow towards sub-regional integration of the developing countries. Certain traditional organisations are being revived (the Andean Pact, the East African Community) and a number of quite new co-operat)on structures is emerging (the Economic Co-operation Organisation, the Black Sea or the Caspian Co-operation Zone). Within the changed international situation, groups of the developing countries have been formulating their objectives in a much more complex way. The original economic associations are coming with ever more important political impulses for the stabilisation of the situation in their region (ASEAN), other organisations, on the other hand, have been shaping their own economic basis (the Rio Group). Under certain circumstances, we cannot exclude the development of these organisations into more closed systems, hindering free trade and broader international co-operation and their eventual transformation into autonomous power centres with considerable military potential. It will be in the Czech Slovak interest to contribute to the weakening of these tendencies in the development of sub-regional groupings of the South and, instead, to support their development into groupings open to international co-operation.
* More consistent frameworks are being created, bringing states with different levels of development and security together on a regional scale. Within this process, the nature of some traditional organisations, such as the Organisation of American States, has been changing. The shaping of new macro-regional frameworks is currently taking place in various phases of development (the Asian Free Trade Area, the Asian-Pacific Economic Co-operation Organisation, the African Economic Community). In the new international context, these processes could result in the creation of regional systems of security and stability, which would correspond to Czech and Slovak interests.
* Integration tendencies have also gradually reached the inter-regional level. Interaction has been deepening, both at the level of sub-regional and regional groupings and with the global mechanisms of the l)N (an ever growing role can be played by, for example, the Economic Commission for Latin America or the Economic Commission for Africa) and the organisations for international trade and finances (regional banks linked to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, such as the Inter-American Development Bank or the Asian Development Bank). In the event of the failure of global organisation, the regional development organisations will act with more autonomy. The gradual integration of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic into regional development structures could considerably enhance Czech and Slovak interests in the South.
Apart from traditional themes of security and economic development, new themes finding their place in the North-South dialogue include the protection of human rights and democratic values, environmental protection, the struggle against drug trafficking, organised crime and terrorism and efforts to prevent uncontrollable migration. Until recently, these themes were tabled with the North-South dialogue on the unilateral initiative of the advanced states, while the developing states reacted to them rather with mistrust and from defensive positions. This situation is beginning to change:

* the developing states are beginning to accept new themes as their own and at the same time to use them in a much more offensive manner in the dialogue with the North;
* the developing countries have been creating new institutions for strengthening their negotiating position and/or giving the existing sub-regional organisation new functions;
* in the sphere of new themes, co-operation between non-governmental organisations in the advanced and developing countries has been developing more noticeably than in other fields. Their influence on the policies of governments has increased and interaction of governmental and non-governmental institutions has deepened;
* the new themes are becoming the most sensitive points of the North-South dialogue, although, on the other hand, due to their very global nature, they contribute most substantially to the strengthening of universality and to preserving the widest possible scope of co-operation between the developing and the advanced states.

As a result of North-South clashes in the sphere of new themes, the ideas of economic growth as a panacea for problems in North-South relations are giving way to more complex concepts of sustainable development in its ecological, social and humanitarian dimension. This will probably not make the North-South dialogue more simple, but the new themes, rather than the "old" ones, will enhance the trend towards seeking cooperative solutions.

North-South and the European Strategy of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic

Along with the end of the East-West global conflict, the foreign policies of states reflect more strongly the links between the processes of regionalisation and globalisation. One of their expressions is also the "Europeanisation" of the North-South dialogue:

* The extension of the sphere of action of the CSCE has increased the possibility of the participating states to contribute to the stabilisation of North-South relations. [here is the possibility, however, that a possible escalation of the North-South conflict will consequently block the all-European process. The need for constructive co-operation, particularly among states of neighbouring developing regions, has increased;
* The North-South dialogue is, to a considerable extent, taking place within spheres of interest built by the advanced European states in the developing world (the Commonwealth, the French-speaking Community, the Ibero-American Community). Through these spheres of interest, the influence of the nations of the South on the processes of integration will grow. Spain, for instance, has co-ordinated its position of nationalist reaction with the Latin American countries, which is starting to threaten the stability of democratic institutions.

As a result of factors inter alia, it is probable that the achievement of the direct aims of the European policy of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, i.e. its full-fledged participation in the West European integration and the creation for it of a more secure, all-European framework, will have to be placed on a substantially wider basis than the negotiation of the association agreements with the EC.

The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic has been pursuing its policy of integrating Europe, with a view of the aims and needs of European unification. In this sense, the role of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic as a subject and an object of international policy has been changing. Within the Czech and Slovak prospects, the main threat to the positive development in international relations continues to be instability in the CSCE area. The main causes are the differences in levels of security and development of the CSCE participating states. It is desirable for the Czech and Slovak interests that such understanding of priority of the all-European process is accepted by all the member states of the EC and possibly the whole advanced North, as well as by the developing countries of the South. On the other hand, the policy pursued by the developing states towards the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic becomes part of their new European policy of reacting to the acceleration of West European integration, to the revolutionary changes in Central Europe and the emergence of a Commonwealth on Independent States. The states of the South are seeking preferred partners in unified Europe. The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic attracts certain attention in this respect, which will grow parallel with the advance of European integration and the participation of Czechoslovakia in this process.


Within its interests, the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic would rather prefer a more differentiated, more structuralised and, at the same time, a more complexly held dialogue between states with different levels of security and development. This dialogue should:

* respect a more subtle differentiation between the individual groups of states;
* be developed systematically and at various levels, but always with a primary stress on holding it within the framework of institutions associating states, irrespective of differences in the level of development;
* focus on the problems of development, within an ever broader context, including their ecological, humanitarian and other dimensions. An ever closer interaction can be expected between 'purelysecurity" and 'purely development" institutions.

The position of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic between the advanced North and the developing South mainly requires a very complex approach in international relations, with the main emphasis placed on overcoming the stereotypical bloc view of the world and systematic differences in the levels of security and development of the individual states. The importance of North-South relations will grow in the future, a proof of which is a series of ideas formulated on the soil of the UN as well as at bilateral level. In the interest of reducing the risks of a new conflict axis (North-South), the North will have to find an acceptable solution to meet the growing needs of the South.