, January 26, 2006, (BULLETIN) By JESUS ERLE B. SEBASTIAN - Defend democracy Aznar

Action on global security, equality urged

Former Spanish Prime Minister and president of the Centrist Democratic International (CDI) Jose Maria Aznar yesterday called for action on four major challenges to the "expansion of freedom and democracy" which he said is "the great task of our time."

During the launch yesterday of the CDI-Asia Pacific Organization at the Manila Hotel, Aznar said, "The principles and values we support are universal, and they must be promoted and fostered all over the world. I am referring to values such as the essential equality between men and women. I am referring to the values of freedom and democracy, which all individuals have a right to enjoy."

The first challenge is the threat of terrorism, said Aznar before a gathering of the leaders of democratic parties from Europe and Asia.

""We cannot deny the fact that a real and rising threat on a world scale exists that seeks to abolish democracy and individual freedom in order to impose some exclusive totalitarian system or another in their place," said Aznar.

"The tactics employed to promote these tyrannical designs are none other than terrorism. Whatever ideological excuses or alibi they employ, terrorists simply wish to impose their ideas on others. They seek to abolish freedom."

To combat terrorism, Aznar urged the use of all the tools provided by a democratic state and law and the enhancment of cooperation among nations and the updating of legal instruments in order to strengthen cooperative measures and make them more effective.

The second challenge against democracy is "a new form of populism that is adulterating our democratic institutions in order to impose totalitarian projects," said Aznar.

He warned against leadership cults that "erode fundamental freedoms and export hatred and outdated Socialist ideas" which he said "seek to abolish civil liberties and democracy."

Aznar said the third challenge is combatting poverty and exclusion with determination.

He said that there are no quick solutions to eliminating poverty but the best way is to create strong institutions that are capable of protecting the rights of individuals and promoting open democracy.

"It is essential, in this respect, that legal mechanisms are established in countries that seek to reduce poverty in order to guarantee property rigths and thus harness the efforts of millions of people," Aznar said.

The fourth challenge is the need to highlight and promote unity.

"In this respect we must be prepared to openly proclaim that freedom and democracy are there for all to enjoy," he said. "We cannot accept any exclusion based on religion, race or culture."

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved