Memorandum for Freedom and Democracy by Participants of the International Round Table 2018
From 7th to 9th October 2018, the ‘Peaceful Revolution Foundation’ (German Stiftung Friedliche
Revolution) hosted an International Round Table with the title ‘A Network of Freedom and
Democratic Movements’. Representatives of freedom and civil rights organizations, among them
writers, journalists, politicians, activists and experts from 13 countries including Germany took
part in a vivid exchange of thoughts and experience regarding the fundamental questions of our
Together we demand:
Democratic processes and the rule of law are in great danger, as they
are being undermined, ignored and even destroyed. Civil society and active citizens constitute
the basis of a healthy democracy and should be supported and consulted in decision-making
processes in the long term. The members of the International Round Table are extremely
worried about reports of shrinking civic space throughout Europe. We need a vibrant and
independent civil society in order to defend democracy and justice, to promote peace by means
of civic education and we have to find a constructive way of coming to terms with the past, to act
as watchdog against corruption and to defend the pillars of our democracy: Freedom of
assembly, freedom of speech, freedom from persecution! Policies that limit citizens' rights to
access information, justice and participation in decision-making, such as the recent antienvironmental
legislation in Bulgaria, should not be tolerated by democratic governments.
The European Union should stand firmly behind its fundamental core
values: respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the
rule of law. Union institutions and member states' governments should not allow these rules to
be displaced and compromised by opportunistic, greed-driven politics. At the same time the
Union should make sure that the benefits, generated by its powerful economy, are distributed in
a fair way to all of its citizens. Our shared, humanist values can be the only answer to the
polarising forces threatening the European Union; they should be the basis of all European
interior and foreign policies. Countries aspiring to a democratic future, such as Macedonia,
Armenia and Georgia, should be supported in their effort to overcome the nationalist
confrontations of the past. The International Round Table unanimously agrees that a
democratization of the European Union is a precondition for the continuous development of the
civil society. Civil society initiatives and innovative forms of direct democracy strengthen our civil
society and our democracy.
Debunk and fight populism.
Parties and organisations which attack Europe's core democratic
values should not be able to benefit from public funding of parliaments, the very houses of our
democracies. The political culture is being destroyed fast-growing and escalating populism
which should therefore be nipped in the bud to protect democracy. Populism targets the
foundations of our democratic institutions, it nourishes mistrust, erodes the participation of our
citizens in political decision-making and undermines cohesion in our societies. We call upon the
EU to give citizens a real voice in decision-making – as giving true power to the people is the
antidote to populism.
Eradicate corruption and nepotism.
Corruption deprives millions of citizens of their access to quality infrastructure, education, journalism, health and social services, and should be fought
with focus and determination. We are particularly alarmed by the situation in Bulgaria, Romania,
Macedonia and other countries, where corruption seems to be rife and authorities are unable or
unwilling to control it. Such countries need assistance and control by fellow EU member states.
Countries should limit trans-border corruption, often involving their own corporations' and
officials' actions abroad.
Defend freedom of the press, freedom of speech and watchdog journalism.
We call upon the European Union to actively intervene in order to prevent further use of EU funds for mass
media organisations which do not abide by ethical norms and spread hate speech and
propaganda undermining the Union’s core founding principles. Harassment and imprisonment of
opposition and critical journalists should be instantly brought to an end in Belarus, Russia,
Turkey and other countries. Immediate action is necessary in EU member states in order to stop
the takeover and abuse of independent and public media for government propaganda as for
example in Hungary and Poland; to guarantee plurality and consolidation of oligarchic ownership
as for example in Bulgaria; to defend investigative journalists from threats against their lives and
wellbeing, and to bring the perpetrators and initiators of assassination attempts against
journalists to justice – as for example in Slovakia and Malta.
Guarantee a safe and democratic Internet.
The Internet and social media should be governed
in a responsible manner, guaranteeing equal participation of civil society to ensure that they are
not turned into instruments of propaganda and manipulation undermining democracy, wellbeing
and citizens’ rights. At the same time, surveillance, control and preventing access to
humanitarian organisations are extremely worrying developments. We urge citizens to be critical
and aware in their use of social media and recommend the use of alternatives (e.g. “Diaspora”),
if necessary. We urge for policy solutions guaranteeing that our Internet remains free for all,
safeguards our right to information and protects the privacy of our citizens and their freedom to
participate in the political and public life.
Defend human rights, release political prisoners!
Governments should tackle violations of
human, social and minority rights, in an effective way. Violence and harassment of civic
advocates and protesters by authorities, especially in Russia and Hungary, need to stop
immediately. We call upon governments of these countries to abandon the advancing of policies
that hamper civil society work in support of refugees, and release detained activists where
arrests have been made. Death penalty, still possible in Belarus, needs to be eradicated in
Europe. We encourage Germany and other developed democracies to firmly support human
rights' protection on an EU and global level, including in the UN's Security Council.
Guarantee women's rights and gender equality.
Equality and women’s rights have recently
been under attack in Turkey, Poland and Bulgaria, among other countries. Significant
inequalities and discrimination still exist in almost every European country. We call upon their
governments to condemn fundamentalist and extremist trends and to guarantee the respect of
European standards of equality and the rights of people, regardless of their gender. The
International Round Table congratulates Ireland on the decisive step to enable women's
freedom of choice, and Romania, on the refusal of the people to limit the rights of gender
minorities in two respective referenda.
Democratic opposition without borders – show solidarity.
In light of populist movements
against democracy all throughout Europe it is more necessary than ever to build a network
among people “driven by democracy” and civil rights activists, inside and beyond the borders of
the EU. The members of the International Round Table decided to maintain the connections
established at this event for a further exchange of ideas and experience, and in order to keep
encouraging each other. The Peaceful Revolution Foundation will use this growing network to
carry out the prearrangements for the conferences planned for the future. This year's conference
turned out to be an experience of strong community for all of us. It was regarded as ‘extremely
meaningful, fertile and interesting’ as an ‘instrument of defense’ of freedom and democracy.
Leipzig, 9th October 2018
Peaceful Revolution Foundation (Stiftung Friedliche Revolution)
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