I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union with regard to agenda item 12. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the EFTA country Iceland, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
Democracy and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Democracy -which we consider to be a universal value-, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are all interdependent and mutually reinforcing. In this sense, the protection and advancement of democracy and the rule of law are among the top priorities for the international community. The EU is firmly committed to the implementation and promotion worldwide of democratic principles.
The EU welcomed the Sixth International Conference on New and Restored Democracies, held in Doha from 29 October to 1 November 2006, under the theme of building capacity for democracy, peace and social progress and its outcome, the Doha Declaration. We also welcomed the historic adoption of a tripartite Joint Statement in a common effort to promote democracy. It is the EUs understating that it is fundamental and necessary to have joint actions for the promotion of democracy, and in this regard we welcomed the tripartite structure of the Sixth International Conference, with parliamentarian and civil society forums held parallel to the governmental country meeting.
We welcome the decisions to improve the follow-up mechanisms between each International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, addressing the concern of Member States to establish follow up steps to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the New or Restored Democracies Movement and ensure systematic implementation of the Conferences recommendations. In this regard, we would like to emphasize our appreciation for the recognition that there was a need to establish an International Advisory Board and a nucleus secretariat to assist the current Chair of the Sixth International Conference.
We also welcome the work program for 2007-2009, approved by the Advisory Board, in its first meeting on 26 April in Doha, particularly the decision to promote the global exchange of information and experiences by establishing and maintaining a comprehensive international databank on democracy.
We believe that further exchange of information between the ICNRD and other main actors, such as the Community of Democracies, International IDEA and IPU can only be beneficial for the promotion of democracy worldwide, as each organization has lessons learned and best practices to share. In this regard, we welcome the efforts taken by the chairs of ICNRD and Community of Democracies to bring the two movements close together, as well as we welcome International Ideas intention to strengthen cooperation with the UN.
The importance of the support given by the UN mechanisms to the promotion of new and restored democracies is striking, be it through the UNDEF, the UNDP, the DPA, the DPKO, the OHCHR, the PBSO, or through the good offices of the Secretary-General. One of the areas where the work done by the UN mechanisms is more evident is in peace keeping operations and peace building activities, as peace and security also depend on the spread and consolidation of democracy, and a well coordinated policy within the UN framework can help to achieve peaceful solutions to the conflicts that are threatening stability in different areas of the world.
It is also fundamental to promote the right conditions that will enable democracy to take root where it has never existed before and to support democratic institutions in countries in transition or that have recently moved to a democratic system.
We also regard as utterly indispensable that men and women are given equal participation in political life and decision making, for inclusion of everyone is a prerequisite for genuine democracy.
The EU considers that regional cooperation is essential for promoting democracy and human rights in every area of the world. In this sense, the EU itself can serve as a successful example of such cooperation, as democracy and fundamental freedoms are the main pillars of the EU.
The EU is committed to promoting democratization through its own cooperation programs, in several areas, such as the rule of law, the effective participation of people in the democratic process, the role of civil society and the development of a steady human rights culture. The EU has increasingly been offering its assistance and cooperation in electoral processes in third countries. In our development cooperation agreements, we place democratic values and human rights as essential elements, as is clearly seen in the Cotonou Agreement we have with several countries in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific. This provides the basis for structured exchanges on democracy and human rights with third countries, backed up by concrete cooperation programs and with a view to facilitate concrete progress on the ground.
At the same time as we value regional cooperation, we also attach the utmost importance to the efforts of the international community in order to devise and implement assistance and educational programs for democracy. The EU considers the UN the most appropriate international framework within which to work to enhance and promote democracy and human rights throughout the world.
Let me reiterate that we do not seek to impose any particular model of democracy. We recognize the unique political, social and cultural background of each country and therefore we consider that the civil society has an essential role to play in ensuring respect for the democratic principles.
The EU would like to finalize by thanking Qatar for hosting the Sixth International Conference in 2006 and for all the efforts it has undertaken to ensure effective implementation of the Conference´s recommendations.
Thank you Mr. President.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.