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PM Mitsotakis addresses via teleconference the 3rd Summit for Democracy, in South Korea

Featured PM Mitsotakis addresses via teleconference the 3rd Summit for Democracy, in South Korea

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressed via teleconference the 3rd Summit for Democracy, held in South Korea. His  speech is as follows:

"Dear colleagues, dear friends, it’s an honour and a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to address you today in what is the third Summit for Democracy. And I’m especially glad that this summit has been organised by the Republic of Korea, a country that serves as a model of progress and prosperity in the broader region, upholding our universal values, promoting peace and stability and defending democracy.

This year’s Summit for Democracy could not be more important, given that in 2024, almost half of the population of the planet, close to 4 billion people across 60 or more countries, will go to the polls. Democracy is more widespread than ever, and that can only be a positive thing. At the same time, it faces significant challenges. Challenges that mean that for those of us who continue to believe in democracy as a political system that represents the best of all alternatives, our focus, I believe, must be on three critical priorities.

First of all, unity against aggression. I profoundly believe that democracies have a duty to unite and consolidate their forces against aggressive state behaviour, any behaviour that violates International and Humanitarian Law. The war of aggression, as we heard from President Zelenskyy, against Ukraine, has been such an example of unity in our response.

The same values should apply everywhere. Civilians must be protected everywhere in the world. And I understand that countries belonging to the Global South may see the war in Ukraine as a European war, but it is much more than a regional war. It is an open challenge to international stability, to International Law, to the international rules based system that the Global South has supported as well.

The catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza requires urgent action. It is the obligation of democracies to live up to that fundamental duty. Targeting civilians and causing children to die in armed conflict is never acceptable in a world of democratic values.

Second, democratic states must regain the full trust of their citizens. It is our responsibility as democratic leaders to demonstrate that democracy is indeed the only system that can deliver the values that people actually want: security, prosperity, freedom, respect and justice. Democracy, after all, is the only system that has the mechanisms of accountability to guarantee the protection of those values.

And only by being honest about that challenge, and, of course, always realistic in what we promise, only by delivering on our policy agenda can we offer tangible results for our citizens that will eventually strengthen our democracies.

This brings me to the third priority: regulation of technology. Innovation has given us, has given humanity the tools to change the world for the better. Without regulation in the wrong hands, those tools can also disrupt and even destroy.

Technological advances, especially in artificial intelligence, are already beginning to bring major changes in the way our economies and our societies function. If we are not careful, we risk as democrats missing the adaptation necessary to prevent the misuse of artificial intelligence. Deceptive AI, deep fakes may disrupt the very fabric of our reality, with grave potential consequences for the health of democracy everywhere. Not only could it undermine transparency and accountability, but weaken social cohesion, collective values, and the fundamental trust that is so necessary to bind our societies together.

Smart regulation that does not stifle innovation is the key. We must regulate technological innovation in the same responsible way that we regulate, for example, medicine and food. In the European Union, we have already taken that leap with the establishment of the first ever legal framework on artificial intelligence, the AI Act. I hope others will follow that lead, because much like climate change, the issue transcends borders and affects us all.

Dear friends, there has hardly been an era in our history when international cooperation has been more imperative than now. It is time for all of us, north and south, east and west, to engage in genuine cooperation with a goal of mutual benefit.

Division today is not about geographical distinction. It’s about the peaceful versus the belligerent. It’s about those who understand the value of International Law versus those who wish to prevail through the embrace of violence and chaos. It is about those who believe in the preservation of human life and those who believe in nothing but their own ill considered self interest.

There is a natural coalition of states that fall on the right side of these lines of division. And I believe that, after all, we are a majority, and our future lies in that coalition. Our future lies in working together for the benefit of all."