Monika Griefahn, Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages a. D.


Speech IPU Amman

by Mrs. Monika Griefahn, MP, Member of the German Delegation, at the 4th Committee

Only if we recognise each other with all differences but also the things we have in common, we will be able to work for peace and to avoid wars and conflicts.

What we need is to develop a common approach that will allow us to use the values and ideas we have in common in order to reach a framework for mutual understanding.

Many fields of politics can be better dealt with if we reach a better understanding of what makes us move; the most important of those fields are international security, human rights, the global environment and sustainable development.

But a lot needs to be done: cultural exchange in all kinds of fields has to be improved; technological change should be used in such a way that it supports mutual understanding and brings people together; it should not cause fear of social distress. We need to do more in order to establisch democracy in all countries and free participation of all citizens in the civil society.

We as parliamentarians, need to strengthen the idea that dialogue and cultural exchange have always contributed to peaceful co-existence and cultural enrichment. This also means to prevent the "McDonaldization", which can take place in the move of globalization.

In order to reach those goals we, each in her or his country, should take care of budget matters concerning culture, education and exchange with other cultures and civilizations. One international youth camp is better than a new war system. An exchange program by internet opens doors for those who cannot travel.

Culture is a main factor for security in regions, for environmental safety especially in water politics where we will have to face future wars.

Only if we learn to understand the ways of living, of culture, of each other it is possible to understand why he or she behaved in the way he or she did.

We need to start to think in "pictures". This means we need to learn what kind of "pictures" our partners in the world have in mind when they speak about "human rights",. "security", "the environment" or "sustainable development". What do these words mean in another language or culture, what does it mean for us? Those "pictures" are decisive for the outcome of dialogues on culture and between cultures.

If we talk about globalisation or strategies on how to survive we need to know about chances and risks, about the fear of the people and how to encounter the fears of the people.

And all those "pictures" are in a steady process of being proved by reality. We need to keep that in mind. Our videas, values and wishes are all part of global competition; also they are laid down in the Charter of the UN.

We can see that when we look at developments where some are trying to see culture as a means of self-consolidation or even as an answer to social change. We have 39 conflicts for the time being, most of them caused by cultural, ethnic or religious differences.

What we want with our resolution is to start an initiative for a broad and worldwide dialogue on culture as the most important factor of international politics in the near future. We need access to education, to technical means and we, as parliamentarians, have to insist on budgets on culture, education and exchange.

We do not see a "clash of civilizations" but we see many problems arising in all parts of the world.

Culture will, as I see it, play a more central role in future politics. In the field of economics, the global players will more and more look for the most favorable social orders for their investments. They will look for the best infrastructural advantages of a certain place.

The cultural structure or "core culture" of a society will determine the way in which production and administration of power is handled. The "cultural style" of the actors (or players) of world society determines their potential for action (= Handlungsspielraum).

We have to keep this in mind. It shows us the importance of culture. It shows us that we need to learn about each other. We need to look closer at our partners and our competitors. If we are able to understand why they do this or why didn't do that, we will be in a better position to make our point. We need to encourage the young ones. Let us give them a chance by education, the use of the Internet, and exchange programs and personal contacts. The year 2001, which will be the "United Nations Year for Dialogue among Civilizations" is a very welcomed event to do just that.