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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » July 2, 2010
Politics & Society
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Discussing Democracy
July 2, 2010   
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Foreign affairs ministers from around the world will attend a High-Level Democracy Meeting in Cracow July 2-4 to discuss current challenges to democracy.

The event is part of a series of events marking the 10 years of the Community of Democracies, an intergovernmental organization that aims to promote democracy and strengthen democratic institutions all over the world.

Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski will host the Cracow meeting, which will be one of the most prominent international gatherings of democracy decision makers in 2010.

During his visit to the United States in May, Sikorski met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who confirmed she would attend the Cracow meeting. Both said they hoped the conference would influence the ways in which democracy is supported worldwide. Other leaders have also confirmed their attendance. These include the foreign affairs minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt, the president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The meeting in Cracow will address the most pertinent challenges to democracy. Over 100 foreign affairs ministers from around the world have been invited. The meeting is expected to draw up a Global Democracy Work Plan for the international community as a roadmap to strengthening democracy. The plan will help define the tasks for the Community of Democracies in the coming years.

The event will also provide an opportunity to share the experience of the peaceful democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe. The meeting will be attended by democratic leaders and activists from all over the world, in addition to officials from NGOs, Nobel Prize winners, academics, businesspeople, senior officials from international organizations and the media.

The key theme of the meeting is how to overcome obstacles on the road to building a civic society in the contemporary world. Meeting participants will also analyze the latest developments in countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Haiti, Honduras, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar (Burma).

The Community of Democracies is a worldwide intergovernmental organization that aims to promote democracy and strengthen democratic institutions all over the world. It was launched in 2000 at a ministerial conference in Warsaw. The initiative was spearheaded by Prof. Bronisław Geremek, the Polish foreign minister at the time, and Madeleine Albright, the former U.S. secretary of state.

The organization is governed by a Convening Group in which the presidency—currently held by Lithuania—rotates on a biennial basis. It is assisted by a body known as the Troika, currently composed of Portugal, Lithuania and Mongolia. In 2008, the organization’s Permanent Secretariat was established in Warsaw.

Since it was established, the Community of Democracies has played a role in setting up the UN Democratic Club and the UN Fund for Democracy, and in establishing an International Day of Democracy, which is celebrated every year on Sept. 15.

In 2009, the Portuguese presidency handed the Geremek Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Democracy Promotion to former South African president Nelson Mandela.
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