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Address by Mr. Habib El Malki Speaker of the House of Representatives at the "International Forum for the Development of Parliamentarism"

> 02/07/2019

Your Excellency, Dear Colleague, Mr. Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma and of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation,

Dear Colleagues, Speakers and Members of National Parliaments,

Ladies and Gentlemen,                                                

First of all, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the State Duma of the Russian Federation and to the Russian authorities for the invitation extended to us to take part in this important international Forum. I should like to congratulate them on the excellent organization of this event, and to thank them for the welcome and hospitality extended to us by Russia, a nation steeped in history. Through its culture, civilization and values, Russia has enriched the history of mankind. Today, Russia continues to enrich human civilization thanks to its scientific and technological contributions. It is also making a significant contribution to balanced international relations and the multipolar character of the global order.

Mr. Speaker, Dear Colleague,

You have made the right choice of putting the development of parliamentarism at the heart of this second International Forum, linking it to the proceedings of the Russia-Africa Inter-Parliamentary Conference.

Through these two themes, we shall address issues that not only affect international relations, but also determine the future of the world order and challenge stability, peace, security and governance, and possibly the future of mankind.

Whether it is international security, the role of parliamentarians in establishing peace and stability, the challenges facing national legislative bodies in the digital age, the fight against poverty and social or regional disparities, or the serious consequences of climate change, humanity is confronted with a range of crucial challenges. As an embodiment of the will of the people and as a natural extension of political parties and trade union organizations, parliaments are at the forefront of the struggle to rise to these challenges and reverse negative trends in order to breathe new life into institutions.

In addition to their responsibility with regard to the achievement of the above objectives, parliamentary systems are facing several challenges, including: 1. hostile attitudes towards parliamentary action and institutions, 2. the claim that parliamentary systems are no longer relevant, 3. suspicion towards elites, 4. The overlapping and confusion concerning national and international issues, and 8. the predominance of economic, financial and technical considerations at the expense of political and cultural projects, of a debate on ideas and of holistic strategic vision.

These challenges are driven by regional and international strategic considerations the world experienced only during the two World Wars. The agenda of international terrorism transcends national borders, making terrorism a global challenge involving the use of dangerous tools and indiscriminate violence. Conflicts are now a cross-border phenomena; not only have they become chronic, but they are also more destructive than ever, producing waves of refugees, large human displacements and cross-border and inter-continental migration, all of which involve major human tragedies. For its part, global warming is causing devastating disruptions, not only for the environment, but also for everyday life.

Given these challenges, and with regard to governance, there is no alternative but to consolidate parliamentarism and representative institutions and enhance confidence in parliaments and in democratic and constitutional institutions. In this regard, it is incumbent on parliaments to address the problems besetting society, to understand their contexts and implications, and to respond to citizens' concerns. This can be achieved through parliaments that are close to citizens' needs. Indeed, parliaments should listen to citizens, especially young people, women and the most vulnerable segments in society.

Through their oversight mission and evaluation of public policies, parliaments must ensure that their actions have an impact on the ground, the aim being to improve things, ensure equity and reduce social and regional disparities. Parliaments should also ensure strict application of the laws they adopt, including the link between holding public office and accountability.

Moreover, parliaments should involve the citizens in their work (while ensuring full respect for their authority and representative legitimacy, which they derive from elections), in particular through participatory and civic democratic mechanisms, promote open policy and use transparent methods of communication with the public.

In this regard, parliamentary cooperation between the Russian Federation and Africa is an essential lever for strengthening inter-parliamentary cooperation on all of the above-mentioned issues.

We should, all of us, fully endorse this course of action in order to foster the values of democracy, strengthen political participation and implement the reforms required by institutional development. Our mission, especially through the Afro-Russian parliamentary dialogue, is to undertake initiatives likely to establish a political, legislative and legal framework conducive to investment - one that facilitates mobility and stimulates economic competitiveness in order to promote human development and social justice, encourage economic and social integration and ensure dignity.

Moreover, it is our responsibility to mobilize public opinion and ensure our fellow citizens' trust in order to promote collective commitment that can serve our common interests and foster our natural right to more vibrant democratic systems, making sure our societies become more inclusive and more committed to solidarity, based equal opportunity.

The correlation between parliamentarism, on the one hand, and the achievement of progress and development, on the other, is of vital importance. That correlation is of particular importance on the eve of the celebration of the International Day of Parliamentarism, which is commemorated on 30 June of each year. This is an opportunity for us parliamentarians to assess the impact of parliamentary action on our societies, to build on what has been achieved and to consider future prospects for action to improve parliamentary work.

The aim is to encourage parliaments to revamp their operational mechanisms and improve their institutional performance in order to guarantee better legislative work, oversight and contribution, alongside government, to promoting democratic progress as well as the development and implementation of effective laws and policies.

Our main objective remains to strengthen the powers of parliaments in our respective countries’ political life. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to defend our peoples’ interests and aspirations, to promote solidarity, to advance democracy, to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure respect for human rights.

Rational parliamentarism seeks, among other objectives, to develop the political representative system, to guarantee the required balance of powers and to preserve institutional stability - a sine qua non condition to build on democratic achievements.

To this end, our duty is to identify ways and means for enhancing parliamentary performance and governance in African countries in order to meet development challenges. Democracy in Africa is no longer a dream. It is taking concrete shape. Day after day, it is becoming a reality.

We may not share the view that democracy, as practiced in institutionally mature countries, has come to an end. Nevertheless, we believe that the crisis of representativeness should be a cause for concern.  We must, indeed, learn from it and show that democracy in the countries of the southern hemisphere and outside the Western countries (Eastern Europe and Central Asia) - particularly in Africa, the emerging continent - can open up new horizons and lay the foundations for new forms of institutional representation, as symbolized by parliaments. The latter are the cornerstone of the democratic system and the foundation of stability. Institutional vacuum can only lead to uncertainty, chaos and anarchy.

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cooperation for peace and solidarity has always been a strategic policy of the Kingdom of Morocco. Today, that approach is being reinforced by Morocco's African policy, which is being led and supervised by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. It is based on strategic bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects with African countries and regional blocs, and also on solidarity projects with African countries. This policy is giving South-South cooperation a human dimension, making it a pillar of development efforts in Africa – a Continent to which we are proud to belong. In terms of figures, and since the year 2000, Morocco has signed more than 1000 treaties, agreements and cooperation protocols with sister African nations.

I am convinced African-Russian relations offer an even wider range of opportunities for cooperation at all levels. Our parliamentary dialogue should be one of the pillars of our comprehensive cooperation; hence the need for an institutional framework that ensures sustainability. An economically and democratically emerging Continent with promising human potential, Africa is getting rid of conflicts and is the Continent of the future; as for Russia, it has strategic capacity, special weight in the international arena, great potential, significant human resources and special stature on the regional and international stage; Africa and Russia are therefore in a position to forge a new cooperation model.

Needless to say, that model would not be expected to compete with - let alone replace - traditional African relations. Nevertheless, it would introduce another dimension of the partnerships our Continent has with various powers and economic and strategic blocs. The aim is to achieve progress and shared prosperity, promote global stability and peace and ensure balanced international relations.

This Forum, just like the Russia-Africa Summit, to be held next October in Sochi, are key supporting elements in this regard.

As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility to promote multi-dimensional parliamentary diplomacy involving climate diplomacy, diplomacy for cultural and civilizational dialogue, and a third diplomacy to promote peace and cooperation. The aim is not to replace the subjects and themes we have traditionally been focusing on in our joint action, but to consider new courses of action for parliamentary diplomacy, which is unhindered and independent, and which can therefore help us avoid crises and conflicts, while serving as a powerhouse for proposals to promote positive values, progress and common prosperity.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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