With its “unique interface between governments and civil society activists”, the Community of Democracies (CoD) can be “an effective tool of strengthening the synergies and democratic outreach on a global scale,” a Brussels meeting heard today.
The first informal round table of the CoD with the European Union coincides with the start of discussions on the need to increase the coherence and effectiveness of EU democracy support. The EU will tomorrow approve a new EU Agenda for Action on Support to Democracy-Building Processes.
A “singular commitment” is needed in “supporting pro-democratic forces, challenging political oppression, violation of human rights, and government corruption,” said Vygaudas Ušackas, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister. Other speakers included Polish foreign minister Rados?aw Sikorski,
Maria Leissner, Sweden’s “Ambassador for Democracy”, Helga Schmid, Director of the Policy Unit of the EU Council and Michael Posner, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. The meeting also discussed the Council for the CD’s Diplomat’s Handbook, a project funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.
Lithuania recently assumed the rotating chair of the CD and is encouraged by the positive responses to its efforts to revitalize the CoD through new working groups and flagship projects, said Ušackas. Canada expressed interest in addressing legal barriers to civil society organizations, Chile in poverty, development and democracy, while Hungary’s International Centre for Democratic Transition will lead on transitional democracies and threatened democracies.