Democracies versus autocracies at stake, Commission Vice President Šuica tells

Vice President of the European Commission for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica has told CNA that populism was on the rise in Europe, pointing out that democracy in the world and in Europe was in danger.


In an interview with Cyprus News Agency, Šuica stressed that nowadays “what’s at stake is democracies versus autocracies.”


Asked about the situation in Cyprus, she said that democracy in the world and in Europe is in danger at the moment, something which is not the case in Cyprus. She added however that “we always have to be vigilant to see what’s going on and to follow what’s going on in Europe.”


At the same time she stressed the importance of participatory democracy, deliberative democracy and said that people in Cyprus are doing an amazing job towards that direction.


Šuica, who was speaking on the sidelines of her participation in an event on Active Citizenship at the Presidential Palace and after participating at Cyprus Forum organised by non-governmental organizations in Nicosia, stressed the importance that the European Commission places to civic activism.


“What I saw this morning in Cyprus is amazing. Amazing results on implementing the conference on the future of Europe on the ground. So this citizens engagement, this citizens activism is very important because with the Conference of the Future of Europe, we were trying to create a democratic space for the citizens to deliberate, to participate. And this is exactly what these people here in Cyprus are doing and I’ m more than happy to be here and see on the ground what is going on,” she said.


Speaking for the event at the Presidential Palace, she said that this was a big deliberative exercise but bottom up, not top down.


“So we have to listen to citizens, their ideas and to implement their ideas in our policies”, she said, adding that the aim was for Cypriot citizens to be part of policy making.


“So we have representative democracy, but participatory democracy, deliberative democracy is added value and I think this goes in very good direction,” she said.


“Populism is on the rise”




Asked about the outcome of Italian elections she said that as a Vice President of Commission on Democracy and Demography, she won’t interfere in the elections of a member state. However, she added that populism is on the rise.


“Democracy should be cherished and could not be taken for granted nowadays,” she noted.


The Croatian Commissioner added that populism is on the rise because people sometimes easily believe promises. As she said the definition of populism is to promise something which cannot be delivered.


“We can never be fed up with cherishing our democracy,” she said, adding that “we have to ask our citizens, never do something without taking their opinions”.


Asked whether the difficult winter expected for European citizens will help populism gain more ground, the Commissioner said that she doesn’t believe so.


“I know that we are approaching a hard winter, or hard winters because of the dependency on Russian fuel, but as you know we are massively investing in renewables, we have the eighth package of sanctions and I think the people are smart and they will realise what is good and what is bad,” she said.


The European Commission, she noted, is doing really an amazing job in trying to get rid of being depended on Russian oil and gas and citizens are understanding what’s going on.


“So, we cannot let Russians occupy Ukraine and we cannot let their politics and their ideas be dominant,” said Šuica.


Strongly opposing the violations in Iran




Asked if the EU was ready to send a strong message to Iran, after the last events in the country with brutal violation of human rights, the Commissioner said that “we are always sending strong messages”.


“I’m strong defender of gender equality and women’s rights and this is not something which should happen and we are strongly opposing this”, she said adding that this was her personal opinion.


She also stressed that the Commission has for the first time Commissioner for Democracy and Demography but also Commissioner for Equality something that show their direction and their opposition to what’s happening on the issue of women rights in Iran.


Legal migration helpful for labour market




Asked about demography she said that the issue was competence of the member states, and that for the European Commission demography is broader, and means among others, creating good conditions for young families for young people to decide to have children if they wish.


“We are an ageing continent. It is challenging but at the same time is a big opportunity because in the last 50 year we live 10 years more on average in Europe but then is a big “burden” for member states, because they have to organise long term care and pension systems and healthcare. And we are helping with our cohesion policy with investing in infrastructure, with artificial intelligence, with robotics and in the end with managing legal immigration”, she said.


Asked about the large number of immigrants coming in Cyprus something that affects demography, she said that she was following what is going on in Cyprus which is not different than other part of southern Europe.


She noted that for the European Commission managing legal migrations can help in filling the labour market.


“We are adopting a new migration and asylum pact and this should be adhered also by Cyprus authorities,” she said.


Source: Cyprus News Agency