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Europe at the Dictators’ Ball

January 6, 2021 will remain a sad moment in American history, the one during which its president, rejecting the election of his successor, successfully incited his supporters to storm the Parliament. The riot he unleashed played into the hands of the dictators, so numerous on our planet. They joked and laughed, but in fact they were delighted. The Iranians and Russians saw it as proof of the failure of democracies and the decline of the West, the Chinese saw a parallel with Hong Kong, which they are enslaving in violation of their commitments, but in reality, it was just one more reason to strengthen the minority dictatorship of the Communist Party.

Trump has enjoyed flirting with dictators. And they have reciprocated nicely. Countries in Africa, Asia, including Turkey have concluded that the nation that embodied freedom and democracy no longer has a lesson to teach them and this is deeply regrettable for the cause of freedom. Let us hope that the new American administration will sanction this unworthy President and forbid him to continue his radicalisation and division of the American people.

For it is more than a myth or a country that is being called into question - it is the universality of the principles of freedom and respect for the individual, on which we have founded our societies and which we still claim to share, or even impose on others.

It is in the name of efficiency and the relative value of the individual that autocrats praise their model compared to that of democracies. They decide quickly, often too quickly in fact; they make decisions shamelessly and without consideration of the human cost, as the 80 million victims of Chinese communism testify. And yet sometimes their arguments find an echo even within our societies.

For our States, especially in the context of the pandemic, for the European Union at this time of the transformation of international relations, the challenge of efficiency is paramount. It conditions the feeling of belonging, not to mention the pride of belonging to a free, peaceful, organised, collectively effective political society.

The demotion of whole sections of American society has paved the way for the most idiotic and extreme conspiracy theorists; it is the feeling of abandonment that has nourished the "gilets jaunes" movement in France; it is the unpreparedness in the face of the pandemic that is stirring up the German extreme right. All of this is the result of incredible technological advances that have marginalised many swathes of the world’s population. It is the ineffectiveness of old, outdated political processes that has blown up in the faces of struggling citizens, resulting in violence almost everywhere.

Repression has been immediate and ruthless within dictatorships: in Russia, China and Turkey. It is more difficult to respond quickly and effectively in our democracies.

The seizure of Capitol Hill, coming after years of American nationalist withdrawal, now places Europe in the front line in the defence of the rule of law. The European treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, but also the numerous Council of Europe conventions, are the most comprehensive definition of modern democracy. Respect for the human person, equality, human rights, parity, non-discrimination, the protection of the weakest and of minorities, have become legal obligations sanctioned by supranational courts of justice whose decisions are directly applicable. Europe therefore protects more than is said, because it also protects against abuses by States, including its own.

And so, we should not let the dictators of the world celebrate the difficulties experienced by our democracies. They are our enemies in the crucial fight for human dignity. But let us assume the role of being the most democratic continent and win the challenge of effectiveness. Then Europe will appear for what it is in the eyes of the world, an example of freedom and progress! An example rather than an export model! This is how we will best attract and organise the promotion of our values. Then perhaps our citizens will also finally find a reason for pride in it.