Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-10-25-Speech-2-082"
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"Thank you very much, Mr President, for your kind presentation. Ladies and gentlemen, good friends all: fifteen years ago, I came here to speak with your group presidents as one of the leaders of the opposition to the Chilean dictatorship. History, our history, would have been different without you. The truth about human rights violations is now public and acknowledged. Our brilliant journey to discover the truth began with the Rettig report, on the disappeared, and has continued until today with the Valech report, on prison and torture during those dark years. I do not know of any other country in the world that has dared to form a commission to listen to the statements of 35 000 people, who were detained and tortured, of which the commission recognised that 29 000 were victims. We have been able to recognise the moral conscience of our society. We have faced the task of obtaining truth and justice with regard to violations of human rights. As President Borrell said, Chile now has a strong and robust democracy. The authoritarian Constitution has been amended. The workers have been given back their rights. Chile now has unemployment benefits, labour reforms and new, more effective labour laws. The role of women is increasingly recognised; there is significant and complete legislation on family duties and rights. The protection of the environment is now part of the collective imagination and it has been enshrined in important public policies that were recently analysed by the OECD. Today in Chile, new generations that have grown up and been educated in a democracy, are broadening their horizons and are displaying creativity in every field. Today, seven out of every ten people in higher education are the first generation in their families to receive a university education. That is the enormity of the change we have made in Chile: it is a more libertarian country, with more solidarity, which is more progressive, more open to a world on which we want to leave our mark. Today, I stand before you as the President of a democratic country, in which a broad political and social coalition has successfully remained in government for fifteen years. It is true that we reduced poverty from 40% to 18%, and extreme poverty from 12.9% to 4%. We have a competitive economy, low levels of corruption and satisfactory human development indicators. We are not satisfied, however; there is still much to do. We have to modify the social security programme to make it more fair and equitable. There are still chronic inequalities in the distribution of labour income. The wages of the richest quintile of the population are, on average, fourteen times higher than the wages of the poorest quintile. If we introduce what we offer in social welfare into the equation, however, that difference is reduced to seven times. We must find a just balance between social protection and the conditions for maintaining competitiveness. We therefore look at Europe in a different way to yourselves. The European debate is sometimes our debate — I am aware of the situation that this Parliament is currently undergoing and I do not want to get into issues that are part of your debate — but I would, however, like to point out that, although Chile has often been presented as a neo-liberal model, the reality could not be more different. We believe that the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’, which talks about liberalising markets, privatising certain companies, deregulation and balanced budgets is something that Chile applied, and in a timely fashion. What does not appear in the ‘Washington Consensus’, however, is the need for concrete public policy in the midst of growth, aimed at the poorest sectors of society in order to create a social welfare net. No country can compete in the world without such a net. Countries which are not able to create a minimum degree of social cohesion within their societies will, in the long term, be faced with an internal conflict in their society, which hinders their competition with the outside. We have therefore made an enormous effort to grow and we have grown. But this growth has been converted into social policies, in education; we have carried out the most in-depth reform of health and I must say to you, ‘my word, it is difficult!’, because reforming health means battling with a whole range of diverse interests. I told our doctor friends in Chile, ‘My friends, you are all socialists during the morning, when you are working in a public hospital, but you are all capitalists in the afternoon, when you are treating your private patients’. And when they threatened me with strikes, I said, ‘Alright, but go on strike in the morning and in the afternoon’. I am sure you understand what I am saying! Chile has changed a great deal since those dark days. We have succeeded in recovering our citizenship and our democratic institutions. We have doubled production and globalised our economy. At the same time, we have reduced poverty by half, we have reformed education, health and justice, and, with public and private resources, we have carried out the most ambitious infrastructure and housing plan: today, one in every four homes in Chile has been built over the last fifteen years. It is therefore difficult to carry out a health reform, because the only people who are not organised are the patients in the hospitals and the only people on whose behalf we must speak are them. Reform therefore involves an enormous change in favour of primary healthcare. Today in Chile, with regard to 25 pathologies — there will soon be 56 pathologies, which represent 80% of medical interventions in hospitals — we can guarantee three things: a high-quality institution, a time limit for consultation and, if the person has no resources, the resources are provided by the fifteen million Chileans. This was a long reform process, but it is part of social cohesion, which is essential. We understand your debate, in the field of health, in the field of welfare; I would like to point out that the average age in Chile is very similar to the average age here in Europe, there are just a few months difference, and the need to provide social welfare for an ageing population is very important for us. At the same time, we have been able to create a good macroeconomic situation and I would like to point out that Chile conforms to all of the Maastricht requirements. In other words, your debate is sometimes our debate. And we therefore follow it closely and we also want to learn from what you have done. Why not say it? In many respects, Europe offers an important example to the world today and sometimes, tied up in your own debates, you do not realise that you are an example of the type of society that is wanted in the world today. We know that, in order to continue growing in an equitable manner in the future and not remain trapped in a pattern of exporting raw materials and low job creation and welfare, we must invest heavily in innovation, science and technology. We have quadrupled our efforts, but we are creating a fund for innovation funded by a very small part of the income produced by copper. Copper is a non-renewable source, which generates a large amount of income for Chile. This immense income will provide a basis for the future by means of science and technology. In this regard, therefore, we are counting on European cooperation. The agreement we have with Europe is one that will enable us also to access your resources in this field. We also want to enhance our integration into the world economy. We are convinced that countries progress when they see the whole planet as a possibility. We must not be afraid of globalisation. In our case, globalisation has opened up new possibilities, including for small economies that are far from the main international centres. Of course, no automatic mechanism is going to be able to reduce the inequalities, instability and crises that globalisation brings with it. But we must have rules and institutions that are able to govern the globalisation process. If we want to achieve them, we must affirm the capacity for a currently emerging global politics to guide society. I want to say here that we are frankly worried about the incredibly fast advance of globalisation, amid multilateral institutions that are unable to keep up the regulation of this process. I believe that we have a high level of social cohesion today because of these developments, and our integration with global society is supported by our own society. Here in Europe, we see an essential agent in the establishment of fairer trade rules, the creation of global public goods, the reorganisation of international organisations and macroeconomic coordination among the most important economic powers on the planet. To whom should I turn when in the far south of Chile, the ozone layer is deteriorating and solar rays are stronger as a result of emissions of gases in the northern hemisphere? Some people do not like the Kyoto agreements; I have said to the leaders of those countries, ‘that is all very well, but tell me then where I should go to complain about what is happening in the world?’. Because what is happening in my country is a problem coming from the outside. I would therefore like to share with you something that we consider to be central: for a country like Chile, the multilateral ends up being local. That is why we believe in the United Nations, of which we are founding members. That is why we believe that the Security Council is the only body with the legitimacy to use force on behalf of the human race. At a time, therefore, when our country was on the Security Council, we said no to an invasion of Iraq if the decision was taken outside of the Security Council. Because we were consistent, we said yes and within seventy-two hours made an effort and deployed our armed forces in Haiti, because we believed that, as Latin Americans, we had the obligation to do our duty when the Security Council asked us to, in a country in the region of Latin America and Caribbean that was facing enormous difficulties. I am convinced, therefore, that the problems of Europe and of the under-developed world are going to be resolved jointly. As a European professor pointed out, if we insist on enclosing ourselves behind walls, we will perish at the hands of assailants from inside and from out. We have also looked to Europe’s experience. For more than half a century, you have managed to combine democracy, a market economy and a high level of social cohesion, compatible with macroeconomic balances and with a welfare State or, better, with a social protection network. These shared values and objectives form the basis of the Association Agreement signed by Chile with the European Union on 18 November 2002. The European Parliament approved this agreement unanimously, in a political gesture that Chile acknowledges and is grateful for. With me today at this formal occasion, therefore, are the Presidents of the Senate and of the House of Deputies of Chile, one of whom is a distinguished member of the opposition to my government in Chile, but in these areas there is a State policy which unites all Chileans. This is the broadest and most comprehensive Agreement signed by Chile to date and it may also be the European Union’s most ambitious. We are building our partnership. We are strengthening links in all of the areas and fields contained in the Association Agreement. Our exchange is increasingly dynamic, as President Borrell has pointed out. The European Union has increased its importance as the largest external investor in our economy, now representing 42% of total foreign investments in Chile. Our trade is very balanced geographically: 30% Europe, 25% Asia, 18% United States, the rest, Latin America. We have signed a Horizontal Agreement on Air Transport, which we hope soon to turn into a Single Skies Agreement between Chile and Europe. Within the framework of the Agreement we have held a frank and intense dialogue with Europe, a dialogue of true allies, although on occasions we may differ with regard to certain policies — I do not wish to talk about agricultural subsidies here — but we have common approaches. Within this context, we are participating in the European Union’s ALTHEA operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Chilean troops are contributing to peace in a European country. Because we are aware of these responsibilities, we are participating in Haiti, as I said, and we hope to cooperate more closely with the European Union in the new phase following the elections in that country. We are cooperating actively in the modernisation of our public institutions; we want to enhance our cooperation on environmental issues; we want to exchange experiences and good practices in order further to strengthen social cohesion in Chile. Ladies and gentlemen, we Latin Americans are not unfamiliar with the diversity being seen in Europe today. Some of our brothers and sisters are making the opposite journey to the one centuries ago that brought mass European migration towards our continent. Not just Spaniards. In the middle of the 19th century many of the countries here which were having difficulties growing exported a huge amount of workforce to America. Some people are now making the return journey towards here. We are firmly committed to the consolidation of a strategic association between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. We want Europe to have greater presence over there. We see our Association Agreement as a significant step. We are following the European Union’s negotiations with our brothers and sisters in Mercosur with interest and hope. We hope to hold more in-depth association negotiations soon, and I hope that the next Euro-Latin American Summit, which will take place in Vienna next year, will lead to the creation of an inter-regional strategic partnership with concrete tasks and measures. We Latin Americans sometimes use too much rhetoric; in these agreements we want concrete facts. We have a common cultural heritage and historical links which unite us. More than once I have told the different European leaders of the need to understand the Colombia process, the efforts being made there to find peace. We must all be sure to support Colombia in its present efforts to promote national co-existence. Because we are united by our past, what we are and what we aspire to be, we want to do much more with Europe. With a strong Europe, united in its external action, determined to play its rightful role in the world. A Europe committed to free trade that contributes to the success of the Doha Round. A Europe that seeks social cohesion internally and also at global level. A Europe that is in favour of multilateralism and seeks to give globalisation a human face. A Europe that promotes dialogue and agreement amongst the different cultural, religious and secular traditions within the framework of what has been called an alliance of civilisations. Ladies and gentlemen, 3 500 years ago, a European said in the ‘Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted … ’ I have come to this Parliament today to ask you to tell us that story, because this journey of 3 500 years is also our journey. At times we have taken different directions. Many times. There is always the possibility that we will do so again in the future. By becoming acquainted with the manners and customs of others, however, and by appreciating the variety of their cities, we must reach a successful common destiny. You supported us during difficult times. We are now proud to come together again as partners and we will always see ourselves as friends, united not just by interests, but also by common ideals and shared identities. That is the essential value that we want to continue to preserve and it is for that reason that I have come here to speak to you. Thank you very much for inviting me. We Chileans vividly remember this assembly’s support of Chile’s return to democracy. During difficult moments in our country, members of Parliament at that time travelled to Chile, participated in meetings, supported our civil society and expressed their solidarity with the democratic cause. We remember these events with nothing but gratitude. And I would ask you to appreciate the significance of what we have accomplished. Europe’s role was, is and always will be invaluable."@en1
"(Parliament stood and applauded the President of the Republic of Chile)"1
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