Council of Europe Journal for the week of 6 October 2014:
- Conflict and extremism in Parliamentary Assembly week
- Youth unemployment reaching alarming levels
- Vaclav Havel Prize goes to Azerbaijani human rights defender
Conflict and extremism in Parliamentary Assembly week
Hate crime and neo-Nazism, ongoing violence in Ukraine, Islamic extremism in Syria – the agenda of the latest part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly makes for disturbing reading.
Challenges faced by young people in Europe
With one month to go to the Strasbourg World Democracy Forum – over the next few weeks we’ll highlight challenges faced by young people in Europe and examine their role in revitalising democracy.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- Anar Mammadli, founder of an independent election monitoring organization in Azerbaijan and currently in prison serving a five-and-a-half-year sentence has been awarded The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. Named after the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia, a dissident well known for his humanitarian principles, the prize honours outstanding civil society action in defense of human rights.
- Bulgaria holds early parliamentary elections on Sunday 5 October after the government, led by Plamen Oresharski, resigned in August, after just 13 months in charge.
- A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly in Sofia on 18 and 19 September for a pre-electoral visit expressed concerns at the lack of trust in the democratic processes in the country.
- The European Court of Human Rights has condemned police brutality in Bulgaria and Moldova. The Court was shocked that prosecuting authorities in Bulgaria assumed the use of electroshock weapons against Anzhelo Georgiev and Others to be lawful. And in Moldova the Court found police had tortured Ion Bulgaru and that the authorities failed to properly investigate his complaint.
- Youth unemployment has reached alarming levels – more than 50% in countries like Greece and Spain. The danger of a lost generation remains very real. This was the sombre message delivered to the Parliamentary Assembly by OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría. According to Mr Gurría the economic crisis has exacerbated rising inequality and fuelled a social crisis, in turn leading to “plummeting” trust in government and institutions.
- Former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Timoshenko visited Strasbourg this week, hinting that if all goes well for her in the upcoming elections, she might end up a delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly.
- Values espoused by the Council of Europe of tolerance, dialogue and democracy are under attack. These values have furthered European unity and cooperation since the horrors and destruction of the Second World War showed what an absence of respect for individual rights can lead to. But once-peripheral voices can now be heard in mainstream political debate. Young people appear to be losing trust in political institutions and democratic processes – even in wealthy, developed, secular countries. And it seems that it’s extremist ideologies that are attracting their attention.