The new website of the ASGP has been launched on http://www.asgp.info/. The engagement of Ian Harris a Former President of the ASGP in setting up a working website for the ASGP and improving communication between members has been very valuable. The intention in setting up the new website has been to make use of all that has been done before but to modernise the ASGP website. This is an important step in working towards developing the Association's working methods. It is hoped that the new website can serve as an important tool for communication within the ASGP. The intention is also to raise significantly the level of service regarding the publication and updating of information on the website. The members of the Association should be able as a matter of course to seek information from the website on previous and future meetings, published communications and other events of relevance. The website is also intended to have a high degree of interactivity. It should be possible, for example, to use the website to send questions to colleagues within the organisation.
The website will continue to be available in both English and French and I can see the way ahead for the development of versions in other languages. Some of the pages on the website are only for the Secretaries-General. Others are open for everybody. To reach the closed pages you have to login with both your e-mail and a password. The first time you login you can use a password which can be sent to you by the Joint Secretaries on request. You then have to change this password and choose your own.
In accordance with the decision taken at the meeting in Nairobi the subject of reconciliation after civil war was a major theme on the agenda in Geneva in October. At the next meeting we will follow this up, based on the questionnaire which was presented in Geneva by the Vice President Dr. Hafnaoui Amrani. We also on that occasion had the opportunity to listen to the Secretary General of Iraq. In Geneva we had important and interesting discussions after presentations on other matters made by other colleagues. The President of the IPU, Mr. Pier Ferdinando CASINI, visited the meeting and made known his thoughts about reform of the IPU. The minutes from the meeting will be published on the website as soon as possible. At the meeting two members were elected to the Executive Committee: Mrs Georgeta Elisabeta Ionescu (Romania) and Dr Yogendra Narain (India).
In Geneva the Executive Committee took a decision relating to the Thai delegation’s membership of the ASGP, which I announced to the Plenary. You will remember that the Executive Committee acted on the published decision of the IPU Governing Council which suspended “the participation of Thailand in the activities of the IPU” (Decision approved by the Governing Council at its 179th session, Geneva, 18 October 2006). As far as the Rules of the ASGP are concerned, Thailand’s membership should not have been put into question since Rule 10(2) refers specifically to suspension of affiliation. Therefore, I have consulted the Executive Committee and all the responses which I have received have agreed that the traditional commonsense attitude and strict respect to our rules of the ASGP should be allowed to prevail, and that we should reinstate their membership immediately. As you may have seen on the ASGP website (http://www.asgp.info), Thailand’s membership status has not been changed there since our meeting in Geneva. Strong representations have also been made that Thailand’s membership should not have been put into question from the point of view of the ASGP’s previous practices (the Executive Committee of 3 April 2001 and the Executive Committee of 17 October 2000), and that the Plenary had no realistic and fair possibility to discuss the President’s announcement. A letter with this message has been sent to Secretary General of the House of Representative Mr. Pitoon PUMHIRAN, Secretary General of the Senate Mrs Suvimol PHUMISINGHARAJ, Deputy Secretary General of the House of Representatives Sompol VANIGBANDHU, and to the Deputy Secretary General of the Senate. The Executive Committee is very keen to restore the colleagues from Thailand as members of the ASGP and sincerely regret if the Executive Committee’s decision has caused them any problems in the very difficult situation for their country. The Executive Committee hope that we can enjoy good and fruitful cooperation together in the ASGP in the future. It is my intention to summarize this issue at our next meeting of the Association.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP) held a joint conference on the relationship between parliaments, parliamentary TV channels and public broadcasters in Geneva in October, the day after the meeting of the ASGP. The event attracted some 180 persons from 78 countries. As President of the ASGP I held an address at the conference. Vice President, Mr. Carlos Hoffmann, was panellist in a panel discussion on “Parliamentary activities: MPs, majority, opposition, minorities, media and citizens - Shared needs, different interests”. A lot of other ASGP members took an active part in the discussions. The conference was successful; I heard many positive and encouraging comments afterwards. Mr Xavier Roques (France) has promised to follow this theme up with a communication based on a questionnaire.It is now decided that the next meeting of the ASGP will be held in Nusa Dua, Bali (Indonesia) from 29 April until 4 May 2007. More details of the meeting in Bali will be posted on the website as they become available.