Speech of Dr. Emil Constantinescu, President of Romania 1996-2000

at the panel Shifting from an unequal, divided world to a sharing society: how?

 Baku, May 11th, 2016


Freedom is the biggest gain of the second half of the twentieth century, but freedom, too brought a risen inequality, which now threatens the stability and security of the social matter. Is there a remedy for all these consequences which would not threaten the so hard won freedom? Yes: integration. Integration is the concept more frequently used than understood.

Modern societies are trying to develop concepts that allow them to protect their citizens and at the same time stay competitive in the globalized markets. The approach of a new welfare state is no longer to arrange for full coverage of (ideally) all risks but to replace the existing extraordinarily expensive systems with more targeted and efficient approaches. This is achieved through requiring people to assume more risks individually and to organize their adequate protection themselves.

Unfortunately, this so-called “risk shift from public to private” had as consequence many half-hearted or partial reforms, leading to ineffective working structures, inadequate employment arrangements, and ultimately an erosion of the protective systems, rather than their real modernization.

Our present world faces a series of paradoxes: underdevelopment does not exclude arming, democracy does not eradicate corruption, and market economy fails to prevent ecological disasters and unemployment. 50 years after it was adopted, the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights is systematically defied, either on ideological pretexts, or under the endemic burden of poverty. 

In order to stand before one another with our particular affinities and needs, it is necessary to establish a universal consensus referring to those moral values that protects not only each community, but also each person. How could we initiate a real dialogue to discover it? It's risky to establish such a consensus around the idea of good. We can surmise that, for centuries from now on, every society will have its own views about its spiritual or earthly welfare. Trying to standardize these concepts means to advocate the establishment of a single type of thinking and to ineffectively multiply the outbreaks of tensions.

Therefore, if we cannot always perceive the common good, it seems to me more reasonable to begin with identifying the common harm. It is in the interest of all nations to meet on the same ground in order to reject what they all reckon to be intolerable. I am confident that everyone here refuses from the very beginning the idea of war, terrorism, torture, pollution, crime of opinion, xenophobia, racism, and genetic manipulation, exploitation of children, social exclusion, hunger, professional discrimination on sex, religion or ethnic affiliation. We have the duty to diagnose together these diseases, so that we can heal together the wounds that they continue to make.

Can we face such diverse challenges? With what kind of arguments? With what means?

An intense effort for citizenship education is needed in order to convince people that principles and process of development are the same for the individual, family, organization, nation-state and for the whole world. At each level peace and stability are indispensably required for development. Today it is not just nations that have an opportunity to advance rapidly. Humanity as a whole is poised for a quantum leap forward if in a global social view, the opportunities for everyone are exponentially greater. Such a principle of global economic development is not anymore based on money accrual and on the blind race for enrichment, or on survival, but on human dignity and cooperation between free responsible individuals.

To build a strategy of hope, before asking what is the world we want to live in, let’s ask ourselves who WE are. The more we are those who share common values and who will accept reasonable disagreements, the higher are the chances of peace and progress. We can thus say: the 21st Century will be a century of synthesis and solidarity, or it will not be at all!

Conflict prevention and post-conflict situations management require a more comprehensive perspective that will allow the development of the global or regional institutions complementarily. A balanced vision should take into account the interests of different ethnical and religious communities, the states obligations and their citizens’ natural rights, the conjunctural and long-term interests of the regional actors. It cannot be elaborated without involving representatives competent to express the voices plurality, questions and aspirations from billions of people. Political structures should be supplemented by civil society structures dedicated to world security issues. Only such a process to consolidate the respect for human, democracy and common security may reach the depth that only peoples’ real will can guarantee.

The preventive vocation will constitute the keystone of its short term activities. This fact involves a raising complexity of the analyses and action ways. The repetitive crises have shown that unfortunately punctual preventive interventions are not enough and should be inserted in a complex of long term actions which needs to take into account the overall aspects of some regions and the overall aspects of the problems that might create destabilize, starting with economic difficulties and going to the stereotypes anchored in conflictual mentalities, from the communication ways precariousness to the security unconventional risks.

I wonder if the exciting and generous topic of a shared society is a challenge, a hope or a dream. If we seek an answer in the full of conflicts history of mankind, in which solidarity was achieved more often against something, rather than for a common goal, the answer will not be too hopeful. If we ask the science, it will tell us that we live in a world of uncertainties which, except from politics, we have found ways to manage. If we ask the music, we will learn that there is hope for a dream to become reality. Basically, a shared society resembles an orchestra where different instruments, playing different chords, can result in harmony.

In the Antiquity and the Middle Ages, philosophers and scientists have seen the movement of planets like the music of the spheres. Neither to music was not easy to achieve harmony. First, there was the choice between symphony, sound together, and diaphony. The first showing consonance, while dissonance corresponds to the second. And then, a long way from the song consisting of successive sounds to the harmony between sounds perceived simultaneously.                                                    

In many places in the world will be heard the Anthem of Europe, the end of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, when the human voices: soloists and choir, are joining the orchestra's instruments. When this hymn was chosen for Europe, maybe it was considered only the Hymn to Joy; but I dare to believe that the symbol was deeper and was taken into account the possibility that the 27 present member states, and those to come, will work in harmony and will preserve their identity.

We can understand it easier if we refer to the human body, which is so fully integrated that each cell, organ and system has the capacity to respond to local stimuli, to compensate for changes in the functioning of other parts of the body, and to also accept instructions from the central nervous system. Integration converts a mechanical organization into a living organism.