Socialist International Wraps up Meeting in Athens

The Council of the Socialist International (SI)–ended its meeting in Athens on Tuesday with a discussion on the Middle East. In a subsequent resolution–the body commended the Palestinian Authority and people for the orderly handling of last week’s Palestinian elections and SI member party Fatah’s peaceful acceptance of election results.

While noting Hamas’s development–the SI remained concerned that its positions continue to contradict what is needed to achieve peace–and called on Hamas to respect earlier agreemen’s–revoke its position calling for the destruction of Israel–and renounce terrorism and violence.

The SI also urged the international community to continue its commitment to the Palestinian people–and called on member parties in the region to strengthen dialogue and political cooperation in order to advance the peace process.

The two-day meeting drew representatives from 161 social democratic–socialist and labor parties and organizations worldwide–including an Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) delegation composed of Bureau member Mario Nalbandian–Central Committee of Greece representatives Kaspar Garabedian and Tavit Bedrossian and a representative of Greece’s Azat Or newspaper.

In addressing the conference theme "Various Civilizations and Cultures in Multi-ethnic World," Nalbandian spoke of Armenian heritage and the Genocide of 1.5 million Armenia’s at the hands of Turks in the 20th century.

"The intolerance that has been going on for years took new shape in recent months when the Azeri government destroyed Armenian monumen’s in Nakhichevan," said Nalbandian–calling on the SI to demand that the Azeri government immediately stop the "crime against the treasures of humanity."

Nalbandian also congratulated the newly elected president of SI–Greece’s former foreign minister George Papandreou–who was unanimously elected by the body on Monday. Papandreou was the uncontested candidate for the position–following his official nomination by an SI working group–headed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero. The working group’s recommendation was unanimously adopted in a show of hands vote. In addressing delegates–Papandreou outlined what he called a vision for a better world and the central role that socialists have in such a prospect.

The body formulated resolutions on other issues–including global peace–democracy–and Solidarity–vowing to redouble efforts in members’ own countries–and at the regional and international levels–to encourage understanding and cooperation between different cultures–races–and religions–and to promote energetic–democratic politics of participation and inclusion–based on a universal right to citizenship.

It stressed the importance of women in increasing communication across cultural boundaries and their involvement at every level of the political process. It pointed out that violence–both within countries and between nations–damages women the most. But when given the opportunity–women have proven that they are most creative in seeking the common ground necessary for peaceful resolutions to conflicts–and are the most determined in building democratic institutions.

On peace and stability in Balkans–the SI Council said that a common European perspective is essential to ensure peace and stability in the Balkans–along with European Union (EU) involvement. It welcomed EU’s decision to open membership prospects for countries of Southeastern Europe.

The SI also underlined the significance of ongoing developmen’s in Kosovo–noting that the region has reached a critical moment–and in negotiating the future status of Kosovo and its neighbors–international structures should place importance on those directly involved in the conflict to find solutions for peace.

Placing emphasis on stability in Serbia and Montenegro and in Kosovo–the SI warned that imposed solutions could lead to renewed conflict–and opposed the creation of "greater" nations that could lead to extreme politics–further instability–violations of human rights–and ethnic cleansing.

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