Aso Agace (EN-DE-KU)
M. Ali Aslan (EN- TR)
Andreas Buro (English)
Lili Charoeva
Mirella Galletti (English)
Lotta Hedström (English)
Keya Izol (English)
Ilhan Kizilhan (English)
Nina Larsson (English)
Kendal Nezan (EN)
André Poupart (EN)
Khaled Salih (English)
Pierre SERNE
Mozaffar Shafeie (English)
Harry Schute (English)- (كوردي) Ephrem-Isa YOUSIF
Eva Weil
Section PRESSE
Nina Larsson tillbaka från Irak
Lotta Hedström
Nina Larsson är på väg till Kurdistan

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I  N  T  E  R  N  A  T  I  O  N  A L    C  O   N  F  E  R  E  N  C  E

Democratisation of the Middle East

Problems & Perspectives

19-20 November 2005
Organized by : Kurdish Institute of Paris in partnership with Kurdistan Minister of Culture
Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Erbil - Kurdistan

sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Afffairs

About the relation between peace and democratization

by Prof. Dr. Andreas Buro (*)

First of all I wish to thank you for the invitation to this important conference und for the opportunity to speak to you about the relation between peace and democratization.

Some preliminary remarks are necessary: Coming from Germany, a country of the European Union, I am not as familiar with the situation in this country, as those of you, who live here and know all the details of the social and political constellations. So I shall not give any analysis or any advice in respect to Iraq. I shall rather speak about theoretical discussions about my topic - especially in Germany - and about experiences in the East-West-dialog to secure peace and to promote mutual understanding in the region. As I worked for more then 10 years for a peaceful solution of the turkish-kurdish conflict, I shall add some remarks to this situation and conclude my speech with reflections about your fifth question, what the European Union could or should do, to support peace and democratization in the Middle East.

The title of this conference asks for „Obstacles and Perspectives“ in respect to the democratisation of the Middle East. I wish to state, that threatening with war, war between states, civic war and terror are heavy burdens on the way to achieve democratisation. In conditions like this, tendencies come up

  • to oppress any internal opposition in order to strengthen the own unity;
  • to make propaganda instead of discussing the real problems of the society and hereby suppress the freedom of opinion;
  • to reduce the standards of justice
  • to concentrate the material means to build up and arm so called security forces and by this to neglect education, health and the improvement of living conditions of the population
  • to look at other people and other religious or ethnic groups not as human beings but as enemies, who are the incorporation of evil. So the readiness to overcome the causes of conflict by dialog will be minimized.
All these tendencies are directed against democratisation, as they block essential elements of democracy. We could observe all these tendencies, when we were working for peace during the Balkan Wars in the nineties of the past century. So my very simple conclusion is: Democratisation needs peace and peace needs dialog between the opponents. I add, sometimes it is very important to have a third neutral party, which helps to start off a dialog.

I. Capacity for peaceful solutions of conflicts and democratisation

For a number of years we have in Germany in the field of peace research a discussion about the „irdischen Frieden“ – the peace on earth. This discussion has been started by Prof. Dieter Senghaas - a famous researcher doing work on development and peace. His central question is: What are the main characteristics for a peaceful society, which is capable to solve their social conflicts without illegal violence and war. He developed six characteristics, which he called the „zivilisatorische Hexagon“ , the Hexagon, which promotes civilisation. The six pillars of the Hexagon are in short:

1. The monopoly to use force by the state to secure the legal order in the state and the society. Only when the citizens are unable to use violence to reach their aims, they will settle their conflicts by legal means of the constitutional state. The overwhelming importance of this point is obvious: If the state cannot secure the legal order, i. e. the rule of law, the citizens will rearm and fight with violence according to their aims. 2. Of course the first pillar is closely connected with the second one: the legal control of the government. Otherwise the monopoly to use force by the state could easily get a dictatorial character. The government has to obey the laws as well as the citizens. Only in this way the use of force by the government becomes a legitimate force. To realize this control it is necessary to have for instance basic rights for the citizens layed down in the constitution. Furthermore different institutions are necessary, which share the responsibility and act by its own rights. 3. The third pillar is the control of affects in the society by the citizens themselves. That is of utmost importance to minimize human aggression and to abandon the use of violence. Tolerance and non-violent conflict resolutions are based on this attitude. Affect control is the supposition to come to compromises in conflicts. To strengthen affect control in a society is connected with the process of modernisation, in which the complexity of social life grows, so that simple solutions of conflicts are not realistic. But it is also connected with education and a culture of tolerance and argumentation. 4. The fourth pillar for democratisation, which Senghaas mentions, is the possibility for democratic participation by the population. Elections of parties will not be sufficient, even if correct elections are a very important element. Freedom of opinion and the possibility to articulate oppositional opinions publicly are necessary. If this is prevented by the gorvernment or other forces of the society, the discussion of problems is not possible. Parts of the society feel, that their interests are neglected. Working for compromises becomes impossible. Frustration and aggression will be the result. So political stability of the society gets in danger. 5. Striving for civil conflict resolution will be not successful in the long run, if there are no continous efforts to achieve social justice, which is so important for the coherence of societies. This doesn’t mean total equality for every body, but it means, that everybody should feel to be included in the society and not beeing excluded and that their basic needs are secured. In several societies mostly minorities are threatend to live at the border of the society or even to be pushed out of it. It is of utmost importance, that all members of the society have the same chances for development as well as to participate in the distribution of social wealth. In this respect the gender and the race issue has to be mentioned. 6. The last pillar for a stable democratisation is the result of the five factors mentioned before and the changes which are implied in the process of modernisation. By this a network of interdependencies in the societies is produced. A culture of constructive treatment of conflicts may develop, which excludes violence as means to achieve aims.

Senghaas argues that this civilisation of conflicts is a result of a historic process, which has developed or is developing in Europe by many social conflicts and by social learning. This process follows more or less the pillars, which I have just described in a very abbreviated way. It has to be emphazised, that this way is not an easy way. A lot of traditional attitudes of societies have to be overcome and must be changed to a behaviour which is not accustomed to most people. The changes imply also that vested interests must be given up in competition to new interests of rising social classes, which appear in the process of modernisation.

The described framework of the Hexagon is developed largely in respect to the European historian experience. The pretension of this theoretical model is, that it describes the elements, which must be developed in a society, if this society will become or will remain a stable democracy. The way, how the creation of the Hexagon will be achieved, may be quite different from the European model. It will depend of the particular structural, cultural, religious, social and economic situation of each particular society. So learning from the European experience, doesn’t mean, to make al the same steps and faults European countries have made to arrive at the actual state of democratisation. At this point I should mention, that democratisation is not a one-way street. Regression of democratisation is possible, if the pillars of the Hexagon become weak.

II. Regional conflict resolution and stabilisation

Democratisation is not only dependent on the internal process in societies, but also on the regional constellations. Here it is not necessary to point out the Israel-Palestine-conflict and its regional effects or to menacing attacks against Iran. Therefore I describe in my second step elements of the European experience with regional conflict management.

At the end of the sixties of the past century the cold war between East and West had led to an enormous military threatening by nuclear weapons and huge conventional forces. Armament and threatening on both sides escalated. The policy of deterrence and the escalation strategies could have resulted in a nuclear end of Europe. At this dangerous situation politicians started an initiative to deescalate the situation and to come to an East-West dialog about the most important questions and interests.

For our purpose I must not describe the whole historic process leading to dialog in the frame work of the ‚Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe‘ (CSCE), nor do I have to analyze the various special interest of the partners of this Conference. I will only shortly describe the main aspects of this unique experiment.

The process started 22nd. November 1972 in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, with preliminary talks of representatives of 35 governments. After further negotiations in Genf and other places, the ‚Helsinki final accord‘ was signed in Helsinki 1st of August 1975. This document contained a catalog of principles for the international relations of the states of Europe: Regulations about measures to increase the mutual confidence in the military field, proposals for the economic and scientific cooperation as well as agreements about enlarged possibilities for people to travel and the exchange of information and opinions. Among others the borders in Europe were confirmed (territorial integrity), the use and threatening with force were forbidden, in case of quarrels, the parties should search for a peaceful solution; non-intervention in interior affairs of states; application of Human and basic rights; equality and self-determination of peoples and so on.

The catalog of principles should build a codex of behaviour for the states from East and West. The representatives of the participating 35 governments decided to hold follow-up conferences to control the realisation of the agreements and to enlarge the process of detention. Par example force reduction talks were integrated since 1989. By this the Conference changed its character and became an institution for a permanent dialog between the states of East and West.

For the implementation of this decision an institutional framework was created, which worked throughout the whole periode up to the end of the East-West-conflict. The institutional framework of the CSCE consisted of
  • A Council for European Security, with permanent representatives of the participating governments.
  • A general secretariat with a General Secretary
  • A CSCE-Parliament and
  • Five Commissions, working on so called baskets, for security, economy, technique and science, culture and environment. Diplomats and experts spoke in the sessions of the baskets about projects and changes of common interest. All states could make proposals. The baskets were connected with the European offices of specific UN-organisations, as IAEO, ECE (trade organisation) UNESCO, WHO, FAO and ILO.

For decisions consense was necessary. So it was impossible for one or the other side to decide by majority and to overrule the interests of any participating government.

In 1990 the CSCE agreed upon the so called ‚Document of Copenhagen‘ about the ‚Human Dimensions‘. In the same year a treaty about armament reduction of conventional weapons was signed by the heads of the governments. In Prag a centre for the prevention of conflicts war was founded.

Soon after the end of the East-West-conflict it seemed desirable to change the CSCE to a more stringent organisation. So the Council decided at its meeting 1994 in Budapest to change the CSCE to the „Organisation for security and cooperation in Europe“ (OSZE). This organisation is working still today as a network of meanwhile 53 staates in different ways to deescalate conflicts, to find common solutions and to promote mutual understanding.

I referred to the CSCE to give an example for regional conflict managment, which of course always has been accompanied by bilateral diplomacy, by negotiations in the frame work of the UN and by other diplomatic activities. Perhaps an instrument like this could be helpful also in the situation of the Middle East.

The Kurdish issue

In the Middle East a special obstacle for democratisation exists. The so called Kurdish problem is a product of colonialism and of the formation of national states in the former century. The imperialistic colonial powers, especially France and Great Britain, divided after World War I the Middle East according to their interests and without any respect to the living areas of the people in this region. By this the Kurds became minorities in at least four staates. The emerging national states tended to become ethnical homogenious. So they suppressed their minorities or tried to assimilate them. A former president of Turkey even denied the existence of Kurds and said, that they would be only Mountain-Turks. In Iraq Kurds have been expelled from their homes and villages or killed by military attacks. Also in Iran and Syria Kurds are suppressed. You all know this, so I must not describe this in detail.

The Kurds rebelled against suppression and asked for an own kurdish state. So they were accused by Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to be separatists and has been attacked again and again.

Furthermore the situation is especially difficult for the Kurdish part of Iraq, which has now established a high level of autonomy. So Turkey, Iran and Syria fear, the Kurds in their countries would ask for a similar status and perhaps would fight for it. So the Kurdish part of Iraq might get under pressure from two sides: From outside, especially from Turkey, and from those forces in Iraq, which want to reduce Kurdish autonomy.

A view on the European and the global situation might be helpful. We can observe a historical tendency to regional integration and globalisation. The consequence for national states is, that multicultural elements become more and more important. Transnational regimes have to formulate policies for a lot of different ethnic and religious groups. The ethnic homogenious national state is to become an anachronism.

Take the example of Turkey. It wants to become a member of the European Union, which is a regime containing many, many different people, cultures and religions. Migration inside the EU will grow, not at least also the immigration from Turkey. But nevertheless Turkey refuses to solve their Kurdish problem in a peaceful manner. It is up to now not willing to accept the Kurdish identity of millions of their citizens and to grant them their cultural and human rights. It insists that Turkey belongs to the Turks. That is contradictional.

Generally spoken, multicultural orientation became more and more important. Yet this tendency doesn’t mean, to give up cultural identity of people. On the contrary, it is of utmost importance to learn to respect each others identity as equal and valuable. The basis for such a tolerance is a secular society and not a religious dominated state.

But as traditions change slowly, a multicultural society is always in danger of a „clash of cultures“ and ethnic groups. If this happens it is a result of anachronistic traditional attitudes or of populistic manipulations, as it has been the case in the terrible Balkan wars.

The consequences of these historical trends are, that it becomes more important to overcome the ethnic, cultural and religious barriers, as to achieve ethnical homogenious states as it has been the case in the previous centuries. The principles of the mentioned Hexagon must be applied to the Kurdish people, where ever they live. But at the same time it is of equal importance, that the Kurds themselves accept other groups in the regions, where they live, as equal and that they respect their cultural and religious identity.

What could be the contribution of the EU to democratization in Middle East?

First of all I have to point out, that the EU has up to now no common consistent foreign policy. So it may be wise not only to speak with Brussels, but also to ask bilaterally the various states belonging to the EU.

My presumption is, that the EU is quite interested in a stabilisation of the Middle East and of the various states in this region. EU is also interested in a deescalation and an agreeable solution of the Israel-Palestine-conflict in the sense of the so called ‚Road Map‘ with a two-states-solution.

While asking the EU and the EU-states for assistance, it is important to bear in mind, that the US have the dominant influence in this region. As the EU is by far not an as strong military power as the USA, it will prefer in principle to develop a more or less civil policy. The reason for this tendency may be, that it can act on a civil level much more than on an equal footing with the US.

If you ask the EU or the EU-states I can image, that they shall react positively
  • In the field of assistance of professional training, students exchange, health and technological programs
  • In the field of economic cooperation, if the juridical and security problems are solved
  • Also cultural cooperation might be possible as to make the Kurds well known in Europe and to overcome the not very favourable picture of the Kurds, which is transmitted by Turkey. A good cultural representation of the Kurds in Europe might be very helpful to open the doors.
  • Perhaps the EU could be also helpful to support efforts to build a „Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East“, if Iraq and perhaps other states of the region are interested to start such a process.

When I mention these possible fields of cooperation with the EU, you should be well aware of the fact, that I cannot speak neither for the EU nor the government of Germany. At the moment it seems to me, that nobody knows what they are really prepared to do. But, what so ever, they should be pressed to do every thing they can, to prevent a war against Iran. If this happens, the perspectives for each road to democracy would change totally.

Final remark
I conclude saying: Peace and democratization are closely related and interdependent. Peace must be achieved, to promote democratization – not only for irakish Kurdistan, not only for the whole of Iraq, but also for all parts of the Middle East.

It will be a long way, to reach these aims. It needs clear principles of policy and much patience. I wish you to have both, to overcome successfully all difficulties on your road to democratization.

(*) Personal remarks
Andreas Buro (1928), Dr. habil., retired professor for political science and international relations at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-university in Frankfurt/Main.

He is now speaker for peace policy of the 'Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie', and the coordinator of the Dialog-Kreis: "The time has come for a politcal solution in the conflict between Turks and Kurds“."

Present main points: Concepts to develop civil conflict resolution and human rights. Furthermore criticism of the ideologies of the so called "Humanitarian Military Intervention" and of "Just War" forwarded by the "New NATO".