President of German Parliament calls for greater role for civil society in Yemen [Archives:2004/713/Local News]

February 19 2004

In an open discussion session held last Monday by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the President of the German Parliament (Bundestag), H.E. Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, called for strengthening civil society in Yemen and the world and emphasized the important role it should play in consolidating democracy.
The session was also attended by Mr. Hans-Reimar von Mutius, the regional representative of FES, the three German Members of Parliament, Mr. Gunter Gloser, Ms. Marianne Tritz, and Mr. Hans Raidel along with dozens of representatives of civil society in Yemen and the German Ambassador to Yemen H.E. Frank Mann.
Mr. Thierse said that Germany and the West have struggled for more than four hundred years to achieve the level of democracy they enjoy today, and urged civil society members available in the discussion to push for change and participation in the democratic and developmental process in Yemen.
During the discussion, Mr. Thierse emphasized that in order to achieve real democracy, civil society has an influential role to play and this cannot be achieved unless the government accepts this fact and works to promote relations and cooperation with civil society and if civil society itself is strong and insistent in carrying out its role.
The Yemeni participants asked questions about the German experience of civil society and also reflected the Yemeni experience in this regard, including the difficulties civil society faces and the role of Yemeni women.
The discussion was lively and straightforward and provided an excellent opportunity for participants to get an insight into the personality of the prominent German politician and share ideas and thoughts.
At the end of the discussion, Mr. Thierse expressed his satisfaction at meeting with members of the Yemeni civil society and said that he hoped that he would have been able to stay longer to share more ideas and more depth with the participants.
Mr. Hans-Reimer von Mutius of FES also expressed his delight for the turnout to the discussion and promised to work closely with the Yemeni civil society towards developing Yemen's democracy and freedom.