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The Community of Democracies: should Europe engage?

By Cristina Barrios (17/12/2007) Other publications

Last November the fourth Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (CD) took place in Bamako, Mali. The event was an important follow-up to the 2005 conference in Chile and brought together several hundred representatives from participating states and a diverse "Non-Governmental Process".

However, the event was minor in diplomatic terms, as most Western countries sent only low-level representatives (ambassadors instead of ministers), and the document agreed upon was a watered down consensus (not even a declaration).

The CD resembles an international organisation that considers all countries on an equal footing, except that membership is not straightforward, and neither were invitations to the Bamako conference. Countries were either "invited", "not invited" or invited as "observers" in a highly politicised process that lacked transparency.

It is also noteworthy that at Bamako there was no joint effort or coordination between member states at the EU level whatsoever, despite democracy promotion supposedly being one of the objectives of Common Foreign and Security Policy. It is also significant - and deplorable - that the EU is shunning an initiative in which non-Western voices and proposals have the floor.

After all the EU talk about multilateralism and partnership, disregarding such a democracy forum is simply counterproductive. With the establishment of the CD Permanent Secretariat in Poland, and the official hosting of the next Ministerial Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2009, Europe will receive an important opportunity to increase the CD's clout and credibility.

So what is the Community of Democracies really about and does it have a future? Should the so-far sceptical Europeans take it more seriously as a multilateral initiative aimed at promoting democracy?

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EU-Africa relations. EU external relations.

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.

Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.

The Board wishes to thank Diego Hidalgo, FRIDE’s founder, for his tireless commitment and very generous support for many years. The Board also wishes to thank FRIDE’s dedicated staff, the members of the Board and the Advisory Committee for their contribution in making FRIDE one of the top foreign policy think tanks in Europe. We are very grateful to all those who have supported FRIDE’s work and projects over the years and we thank the many partners from all parts of the world who have worked with FRIDE on joint initiatives. We hope that FRIDE’s extensive input to the debate on Europe in the world will continue to inform thinking and action at a very critical time for Europe’s future.

The President of the Board

FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.

Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.

El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.

El Presidente del Patronato

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