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10th Annual Conference

The Impact of Globalisation on Mediterranean Countries
A Women's Perspective

July 12-14, 2002 - Marrakech, Morocco


Maroulla Vassiliou
Ninetta Kazantzis

First, we would like to thank the member organization HERD and its President Khadija Al-Feddy for organizing this Conference on behalf of the AWMR and express our admiration for their beautiful country and gratitude for the very warm hospitality.

Globalization cannot be perceived as the end of a many-years-long process that leads to the eventual triumph of the neo-liberal capitalist model of development. To us, it is a process that aims at the creation of a single world economic area. It is a process that started long ago and indicates the increased interweaving of the goods, services, labour and capital markets. In the whole Globalization process we encounter three phases, which co-exist and are interlinked: First of all, it is "internationalization" which constitutes an objective, comprehensive, socio-economic process. Through internationalization of the market and the regional economic relations, we are gradually being led to the creation of a Single World Economic Space. Then, it is the capitalist globalization that is promoted by the multinational monopolies and is characterized by four principles: freedom of capital movement, freedom of goods movement, freedom of services movement and freedom of labour movement. Last, it is the domination of the multinational companies and the powerful states - mostly the USA - over the dependent and economically under-developed countries. In this sense, Globalization can be perceived as a system of financial subordination and exploitation of peoples in under-developed areas.

Globalization, in the way it is taking place, leads to the redistribution of the coefficients of production, both on a world and on a national level. On the world level, a concentration is observed of technologically and knowledge-centered activities in developed countries and, at the same time, transfer of activity requiring unskilled or low-skilled labour towards developing countries. On the national level a transfer is observed of productive resources from protected activities to liberal ones. These tendencies entail significant consequences, such as increased unemployment and deterioration of the standard of living of the working people and destruction of the so-called "middle classes". The Globalization process creates a competition resulting in a social cost that is loaded on the shoulders of the working people through the reduction of wages and salaries as well as cut of social benefits. A classic example is the transfer of production from rich countries to countries that offer cheaper labour and raw materials.

This is exactly what happened to Cyprus in the last 10 years. We have seen shoe and dress factories close and the enterprises moving to countries like Romania and Syria. We have experienced wage deductions and the social profile is no longer represented by a rhombus but by a pyramid, this meaning the destruction of the "middle class", the higher percentage of people living in lower income and the increase of the wealth of the already rich. The official rate of unemployment rose from 2.1 to 4.3%, but we know this is in reality higher - close to 6%, most of them being women. It is evident that Globalization has weakened our economy and has put our working force in the risk of unemployment or underpayment.

At the same time, Cyprus - wanting to enter the European Union for political reasons - has to comply with the European rules and norms. In the social services and in other areas of state intervention - like in agriculture - the rule of the "lesser state" prevails. We have witnessed cuts in the budgets for social services; we have experienced cuts in subsidies for the farmers and the agricultural products; we are now in the process of privatizing organizations like the Water Board, the Electricity Authority and the Telecommunications, whilst our airports are to become private enterprises for the sake of "modernization".

Nevertheless, we have to admit that, the signing of the GATT Treaty and the founding of the World Trade Organization, on the one hand, and the targeted Multilateral Agreement on Investments on the other, constitute a substantial step towards the direction of capitalist globalization.

As a matter of principle, we are not against Globalization. We are however, against the present form and content of Globalization, which is carried out by the multinational monopolies and the leading circles of the United States. We are in favour of the development of interstate relations and internationalization of the economy that would be built on the basis of equality, national independence, respect of sovereignty, solidarity and cooperation. To set en route a new globalization process that would have as its center solidarity and cooperation of states and peoples, presupposes, of course, radical changes in the internal affairs of that state, the overcoming of capitalism and the construction of a socially just society.

Globalization should result in elimination of poverty, respect of human and women's rights, elimination of discrimination, elimination of injustices and oppression, understanding and peaceful resolution of conflicts. We want a democratic world where the economy serves the people and not the other way around.

We want Justice, Equality and Peace.

Thank you.

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