Governments must resist the ‘Prince Charles syndrome’ and listen seriously to young people’s frustration if they are to maintain social cohesion, Thorbjørn Jagland warned today.
Speaking at the opening of the Forum for The Future of Democracy in Limassol, Cyprus, the Secretary General pointed to “staggeringly high” youth unemployment as fuel for discontent. He said that young people have their expectations all too often ignored because they are considered “citizens in the making” who can wait their turn.
“More and more of them complain about the “Prince Charles syndrome,” said the Secretary General. “But young people are citizens now, with rights and with responsibilities as well as with expectations and competences.”
Spain’s youth jobless total reached 44.3% last June. In Greece, the total is 36%. Some 28% of young people in Italy and Ireland are without work. In Portugal, the figure stands at 27.8%, whilst in the United Kingdom and France, 20% of young adults have no formal employment.
Jagland added: “Young people especially are reacting to the different forms of exclusion and discrimination which they encounter in political and economic life. We need to take these manifestations of young people’s frustration very seriously.
“The present financial crisis is unprecedented in its scope. Radical measures are being taken in many countries to try to balance public budgets. This is both necessary and understandable. But at the same time, countries are running a high risk of seriously undermining the European model of social cohesion.”
The Secretary General urged governments not to fail the ‘humanity test’ by allowing financial austerity to further marginalise Roma communities and took aim at “financial oligarchs” who “seem to be the least affected by the current economic crisis, evn if they are not completely without responsibility for its emergence.”
Jagland declared: “One very often has the impression that they operate in accordance with their own rules and principles and that ‘solidarity’ within that group is much stronger than solidarity between the group and the rest of the society. That, in my book, is the definition of a parallel society.
“I am not advocating any revolutionary action. I simply suggest that these people should accept their part of responsibility, for the crisis we face and for what needs to be done to overcome it.”
* The Forum for The Future of Democracy, now in its seventh year, was established with the aim of strengthening democracy, political freedoms and citizens’ participation through the exchange of ideas, information and examples of best practices.
Speech: Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, at the Opening of the Forum for the Future of Democracy 2011
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Audio: Part 1 of Michael Remmert Interview
Information: Forum For The Future of Democracy
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