you very much for your very warm welcome and introduction.
I want to thank Mrs. Irene Natividad for the most superb
work of organizing and bringing us all together in this
fantastic setting and
atmosphere of sisterhood and
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a
great honour to be here tonight and join this Summit of
outstanding leaders from around the world. It’s been
rewarding experience of meeting so many of you.
So many inspiring stories. Such a powerful network!
Immense potential for synergy and
and gentlemen, Dear friends,
I humbly accept this year’s
Global Women’s Leadership Award on behalf of the brave people of
Kyrgyzstan: men and women, young and old, of various ethnicities
and political believes, - united in their resolution to put an
end to injustice, establish the rule of law, win
human rights and build a society of equal opportunity.
the last two years many more countries followed Kyrgyzstan on
the road of democratic development. This journey has a
start but no clear destination – it is the process that matters.
On this road we debate every day on the right course for the
nation. We argue. We want to persuade each other. We
seek compromise. We agree to disagree, and then disagree
more. It is a very messy and noisy process and is
impossible to manage and control. This is very tiring.
Extremely exhausting. Sometimes not pretty.
Certainly not as pretty and stable
as some of our neighbors
where all matters of national government are decided behind
closed doors at a family dinner table. But this
is what makes us human. Celebrate our freedom.
Freedom to prosper. Freedom to fail. Freedom to
learn and undo your own
mistakes. Freedom to try again.
Every country is incredibly unique with its own exceptional
culture, economical factors and other circumstances. No
single country or a
group of countries have the monopoly on
the best model of government. No state is entitled to lecture
others countries on best ways to build their life. Each of
our nations must travel our own ways, one step at a time,
determined by our own history, national interests and
priorities. We have to travel this road on our own because
we cannot copy, import, buy or simply adopt someone else’s form
There is no universal model of state
governance – however, more then sixty years ago the world has
agreed that there was a set of equal and inalienable rights and
freedoms that were indeed universal and belonged to all members
of the human family.
Humanity is very diverse and
divided, as it should be, on political, religious, economic and
life style choices – what should unite us all
is the respect
to each and every word of the Universal Declaration of Human
It is clear, that in the twenty first century, we
can all, at last, agree - there is no place for abusive one man
or one family
dictatorships who steal the future from their
nations and deny their citizens basic rights.
thoughts today are with the people of Syria who are brutalized
by the family regime that hasn’t had enough even after more then
40 years of unlimited power. We call on the Assad’s to go
and let the Syrian people seek a better life on its own.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There is no better place and time
to reflect on the state of democracy then here in Athens today.
More then 2,500 years ago this city-state
started the great
experiment of the rule by the people. The ‘Demos’ – the
people did not provide then for equality of women or
inclusion into ‘Kratos’. Athens itself could have been
named after the great goddess of war, but women, no matter how
powerful, did not have any voice in running the city.
Economy of the ancient Athenian democracy was built on
exploitation of slaves and depended on permanent military
campaigns. But it was those few centuries of experiment
with the limits of human spirit, our ability to compromise and
together look out for the best interest of the public, that
continued to inspire countless generations of thinkers for the
subsequent two thousand years.
Democracy wasn’t a perfect
system then, neither it is perfect today. Sir Winston Churchill
famously formulated: ‘Democracy is the worst
government except for all those others that have been tried
Just a few latest illustrations how democracy
can be far from perfect:
In a country with ancient
history – a group of populists promote electoral program, which,
as many experts believe, proposes very
wrong answers to national problems. The Demos, deeply
angry with the status quo and the political parties of the
past, embraces that platform. Of course, just a few years
ago, it was the old political parties, who got irresponsible and
near sighted with
the wish to continuously please the public
and seek votes, that without thinking about tomorrow – it was
them who put the country in
deep crisis in the first place.
We see the same pattern everywhere today – party politics,
when your position on matters of national importance depends on
whether you are in government or opposition.
Impracticality to seek compromise. The reward by the
electorate of the most irresponsible and radical
Another example comes from the Athenian democracy of modern
times - the United States of America – where political
campaigning in this
year’s presidential elections alone is
expected to cost astonishing three billion dollars.
can it be that unaccountable to anyone but the few dozen
ultra-rich individuals, so called political action committees,
will spend more then one billion dollars trying to
influence the vote?
On the other extreme - with the
spread of information technologies – we are now living the dream
of direct democracy – every individual in
our countries can
instantly give his or her opinion online, ask a question, start
or end a political campaign.
Thanks to the social media,
the Internet has become the Agora – the public square of the
modern times, where deliberations on public
taking place round the clock.
Let us be frank.
Don’t we see that with so many people join the public debate –
we see the quality of this debate change for the
There are so many who are ill informed or ignorant and therefore
easily become victims of the conspiracy theories and cynical
operators who poison and destroy the civility of the public
discourse. Isn’t it the case that in many areas the debate on
the issues of the
national importance now never rises above
the lowest denominator?
An educated policy opinion by a
respected government official or a civil leader gets ridiculed
by demagogues. The self appointed leaders
of this mob
in their efforts to please the crowd do not restrain themselves
from most chauvinistic positions. The mob forces its will
upon the state by intimidating the legitimate rulers. Thus
democracy very often degenerates into mob rule or ochlocracy.
Ladies and gentlemen,
How do we defend democracy from
being captured by either a few very rich or many loud but
ignorant? How can we promote the best for the general
public, at the same time respect the rights of minorities? How
do we as a collective make best possible decisions together?
I think I am in the room full of people who know the answer.
Every human group, be it a neighborhood community, a student
organization, a business corporation or a country – needs
and strong leaders. Leaders like you!
Never before has the need for leadership in the world been
as acute and intense as it is today.
I call upon you to
make your voice heard, educate and persuade people around you,
generate new ideas and show way to the future.
have made great progress in the last one hundred years. We
are now entrepreneurs, heads of states, doctors and astronauts.
Gone are the days when just being a strong woman opened for your
doors. Today we compete against men and many strong willed women
like ourselves. We do not expect, nor do we want to get
any special treatment. However, we have not fully
realized our potential. The
hidden resource of women
energy and creativity is yet to be tapped in countries rich and
We see the world transforming. Every day
newspapers are full of loud headlines. We see new powers
that are fast rising. Many older ones seem as if set for
permanent decline. But history is not predetermined.
We can make a difference.
If anybody can change the
course of history – it is us!
I thank you for your