Afgelopen weekend organiseerden we een campagnetraining voor jongeren van de Democratische Partij in Moldavië. Er zijn in het land kort geleden presidentsverkiezingen geweest die teleurstellen verliepen voor de partij, en dus willen ze zich nu concentreren op het opleiden van de jongeren generatie politici.
On 14 November, Foundation Max van der Stoel had the honour to meet Azeri dissidents and human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus. It has been one year since Arif was released from prison in Azerbaijan, on 12 November 2015, and FMS asked Leyla and Arif about their story and views on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the plans for the future.
After a former KGB general Heydar Aliyev came to power in Azerbaijan in 1993 – political repressions started. In 2003 the father was followed by his son, Ilham Aliev and repressions against dissidents became systematic. Human rights defenders of Azerbaijan regularly compose lists of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. Among them – Leyla and Arif Yunus, a couple of Azeri dissidents and human rights activists, who are now refugees in the Netherlands.
The book "Background to the crisis in Syria and perspectives on human rights & humanitarian law violations" of Yana Ballod (intern for Democracy at Foundation Max van der Stoel) has recently been published by Wolf Legal Publishers (WLP). This book is a result of an effort to gather all the pieces of the crisis in Syria together. This to provide a clear picture of what has been happening and what are the legal implications to it. Besides, it expresses frustration with the currently existing system of international decision-making and impotence when it comes to fulfilling its most important function: protecting human lives and dignity.
Nu de Roemeense parlementsverkiezingen naderen (11 december) is het extra belangrijk hoe de houding van de belangrijkste partijen tegenover Rusland is. Poetin wil zijn invloedssfeer uitbreiden. Wordt hij door Roemeense politici verwelkomd? De publieke opinie in Roemenië is overwegend anti-Poetin. Maar het is toch spannend waar dit naartoe gaat. Als Rusland geld blijft pompen in propaganda, als de EU blijft teleurstellen en de VS zich onder Trump minder bekommert om de regio, dan kunnen er invloedrijke politici overlopen naar Poetin. En dan kunnen ook de burgers gaan denken: beter een goeie buur dan een verre vriend.
On 13 November the run-off Presidential elections took place in Moldova. An openly pro-Russian socialist candidate Igor Dodon assumed presidency with 99.9% of votes counted. Dodon (Socialist Party and former economy minister in a communist 2006-2009 government) acquired 52.29% of votes against the pro-European candidate Maia Sandu (Action and Solidarity Party and former World Bank official and education minister in 2012-2015), who received 47.71%. The voters turnout was 53.3%, only 4% higher than in the first round on 30 October, while abroad it doubled. Such a result could influence the ongoing EU integration efforts of Moldova. Dodon has said during his campaign that he plans to conduct a referendum on withdrawing from the Association Agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Customs Union instead. Good relations with Romania and Ukraine have been claimed to be of interest to Dodon as well, even though he has said recently that Crimea is a ‘factual’ part of Russia, which caused outrage in Ukraine. Sandu, in her turn, supported the withdrawal of several thousands of Russian “peacekeeping” troops from the separatist Trans-Dniester region, which broke away in early 1990s. It was unusual that 9,000 people came to vote in Trans-Dniester this time, where they usually do not participate in Moldovan elections.
In het weekend van 4 tot 6 november organiseerde Foundation Max van der Stoel (FMS) in samenwerking met het Servische Center of Modern Skills (CMV) een gender training voor drie sociaaldemocratische partijen in Servië: Democratische Partij (DS), Sociaal Democratische Unie (SDU) en Liga van Sociaaldemocraten uit Vojvodina (LSV). FMS trainers Sanneke Snuverink en Janny De Boer reisden naar het mooie Zrenjanin in de provincie Vojvodina af om de training te verzorgen.
On 30 October the ruling party Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (GDDG) won the second round of parliamentary elections that took place in 50 single-mandate constituencies and gained a 116-seat majority required to change the Constitution (it won 67 seats in the first round and 49 in the second). The opposition United National Movement (UNM) will remain with 27 seats and the pro-Russian Alliance of Patriots - with 6 seats. Now GDDG will be able to introduce its candidate for the post of a Prime Minister, who has more authority than the President and will form the new government. GDDG won in 48 out of 49 districts where it nominated its candidates. In Mtatsminda district of Tbilisi GDDG supported an independent candidate, Salome Zourabichvili, who won. In all 44 districts, where GDDG’s main rival was UNM, GDDG candidates won with a significant margin (e. g. 79.27% against 20.73 in Saburtalo district), including two districts (Marneuli and Akhaltsikhe/Adigeni), where UNM candidates won the first rounds. The only district, where GDDG candidate was defeated, is Khashuri, where a candidate from the Industrialists party managed to gain victory.
Social democracy in Ukraine is often surrounded by misconception. Ukrainians tend to confuse social democracy with socialism, bolshevism, communism, fascism or Nazism. Not many pay due attention to the main ideas of social democracy, such as workers’ well-being, equal opportunities, lessening the gap between rich and poor, freedom and solidarity. Social democracy’s spirit has a lot in common with the French Revolution motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité!”. Social democracy stands against nationalistic hatred, intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia. Social democracy could be the way to stop war in Donbas and fight corruption and oligarchy in post-Soviet states. If everybody is free, equal and solidary – there is simply no reason to fight a war or give a bribe.