As Ivo Vajgl, Member of the European Parliament said at the beginning, the round table gathered speakers who all have experience from the area of the civil society. Vajgl believes that real values should change real politics. He remembered the 1970's and the ideas of Willy Brandt. He however pointed out that today he sees the world, which is in terms of values worse than before. He first asked Dr Raimo Väyrynen, Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs from Helsinki to explain how Finland has overcome the crisis on 1990s and if perhaps there are some lessons to be learned about solving today's crisis. Dr Väyrynen said that the crisis hit Finland very hard at that time and resulted in 20% unemployment, but luckily the external debt amounted to only 10-15% of GDP. What helped solving the crisis were heavy investments in science. He believes that the worst case scenario of today's crisis is to keep people, especially young, unemployed for a long time. People should be employed helps since this helps at solving many social problems.
Salpi Ghazarian, Director of the Civilitas Foundation from Yerevan illustrated that during the time of growth we left the 'race car' to do what it was doing. We assumed that the market would do everything itself. In her opinion globalisation worked economically but not politically. With the crisis we have reached a moment where the process of searching a solution will force us to take into account all values system of the world and the regulatory system will have to step in.
Dr Frank-Jürgen Richter, President of the Horasis: The Global Visions Community from Geneva pointed out that the currency of the world is quite gloomy at the moment and banks are almost bankrupt. He believes that whenever the world enters a crisis, people go in search of new values. Therefore we would need a framework of values governing our relations. That cannot only be the European model, but should take into account also all other world models. He stressed that in the end we always come to one basic value: respect for each other. We should speak about universal values and principles and base the economy on real values. He hopes that the next generation of European leaders will have a long term vision of the future.
Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures from Alexandria asked whether perhaps the question of values has become more valuable due to the crisis of today. Financial crisis in his opinion always provokes a defensive reaction in the society. He believes that this crisis is dangerous especially for the youth, which perceives the future as encompassing a lot of threats and fear. However, cultural diversity is much more important now that has been ever before. The challenge is how to identify diversity not as a threat. Also cultural identity is much more important now than before and cultural dialogue will be a new model to challenge. He believes the current crisis is an opportunity for Europe.
Dimitrios K. Katsoudas, Secretary General for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic explained a bit ironically that his country has been in a crisis for the last 3500 years. He believes we should not rush with the conclusions of what caused the crisis. He also mentioned that the European nations have been most aggressive historically, much more than Asian nations for example. Some of the nations were small, but their appetites were immense. The prevailing agenda of today's world is still the 'western agenda', which does not take into account for example the Asian values. He believes the time has come to re-estimate our set of values where the EU has played a very positive role as a soft player recently.
At the end most of the participants in the round table agreed that the world is standing at a turning point, which represents a big challenge for Europe.