Democracy is like air, we do not notice it because we take it for granted that we live in it, the Justice Minister stated on Thursday in Szeged.

If we do not regard it as a legal concept, democracy is fundamentally a cultural issue, László Trócsányi said in his opening address at the conference Democracy and Law in European Integration and International Relations organised by Europe Direct Szeged.

Without freedom in a broader sense – economic and political – there is no democracy, but the issue of responsibility is inseparable from it. “We are free because we are also responsible”, the Minister teaching as a professor at the University of Szeged stressed.

Mr Trócsányi highlighted that the process of globalisation has some useful elements, but it also has facets which jeopardise our identity and society. There are a number of open issues within the European Union. Hungary is a supporter of European unity as is also laid down in the Fundamental Law. This, however, does not mean a supranational state, but a union which is based on the cooperation of Member States, the Minister said.

According to Bertrand Mathieu, a professor at Sorbonne University, Paris, democracy is in a state of crisis. One third of European citizens believe that a different political arrangement could work just as well as democracy.

The senior member of the French Council of State argued that we must not pretend that a pro-democracy stance is a general value as there are people who are attracted to authoritarian regimes. The wars in Libya and Iraq demonstrated that a desire for democracy does not automatically emerge after the fall of a dictator, he said.

Democracy was conceived and developed within the structure of the state. However, cracks have begun to develop in this structure as supranational regimes which have imposed themselves on its arrangements are crushing it, Mr Mathieu said.

The professor stressed that a genuine debate must be conducted on a European level. We need to reinforce Europe, but not the system that is in place today.

The European Parliament should be partly comprised of politicians who come from the transnational lists of parties dealing with pan-European issues, and partly of politicians who come from the national parliaments of the individual Member States, Mr Mathieu said.

Tamás Sulyok, President of the Constitutional Court said there is no real contradiction between human rights and national identity if we think within the boundaries of democracy. The individual’s fundamental rights and national identity rest on the same foundations.