Hanna Herman told about the first day of Washington Summit for Democracy
The session of the Summit for Democracy, in which I had the opportunity to participate as a guest, was mainly devoted to the partnership of parliaments of countries around the world in the fight against autocracy. Many speakers said that it is the parliaments that are responsible for monitoring the actions of the executive branches of government. In this sense, the speeches of the representatives of the American Congress, to a certain extent, differed from what their colleagues from other states, for example, Poland and Nigeria, said. American Congresswoman Barbara Lee argued that U.S. lawmakers have access to all the mechanisms that allow them to fulfill their responsibilities to voters regarding how well the U.S. government maintains fiscal discipline because it is about taxpayer money. In this sense, in her opinion, the American power institutions are strong enough to resist any attempts by the executive branch to anyhow deviate from the letter and spirit of the laws that legislators pass. She stressed that there are no serious contradictions between Democrats and Republicans (and she represents the Democratic Party) on this path. They agree that the American people, through their representatives in Congress, can be confident in the complete transparency of government actions. Her colleague French Hill quoted President Ronald Reagan, who warned that democracy could die out if not protected.
There has been a lot of talks about the role of democracy in the fight against the pandemic. They were convinced that democratic systems have much more opportunities in these matters than authoritarian regimes, for which, it would seem, it is much easier to ensure mass vaccination of the population. The same goes for the matters of combating climate change. Ms. Lee stressed again and again that the role of national parliaments in these processes can hardly be overestimated, and for this it is necessary to develop inter-parliamentary ties in every possible way.
Questions of freedom of speech were also discussed. The representative of the Polish Sejm, Ms. Agnieszka Pomaska, who represented the liberal wing of Polish politics, openly complained about the attempts of the authorities to subjugate the media. According to her, the Prosecutor General is a representative of the ruling party with all the ensuing consequences. Accordingly, it is rather difficult to exercise parliamentary control over the executive branch of government.
A politician from Nigeria said that in his state parliament is one thing, and the government is something completely different, and the government actually does what it sees fit, regardless of the legislative and executive branches of government.
I found the speech of American Congresswoman Diana DeGette very interesting. She described, in particular, how the commissions of Congress work on the case of the attempt to seize the Capitol. Questioning of the participants in the January 6 events are ongoing. The main goal is not to punish the perpetrators (there are courts for this), but to understand the deep essence of the processes that led to this, and, accordingly, to exclude their repetition.
To sum up, there were a lot of interesting and informative things, I cannot tell about everything at once. But even after the first day of the summit, we can say that the Ukrainian authorities (both legislative and executive, and the President, unfortunately, have nothing to boast about in terms of achievements on the path of building a true democracy. Especially regarding freedom of speech in Ukraine and creeping autocracy, which has become, in fact, an everyday phenomenon in Ukrainian politics. I did not hear the speech of the Chairman of our Verkhovna Rada. In the evening I will listen and tomorrow I will comment on it. But I doubt that he reflected the true picture of Ukrainian realities.