Democracy is not always a triumphal march, but rather a marathon of adaptability, endurance and commitment to working together, Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said on Friday in the opening of the 20th Anniversary Community of Democracies Virtual Conference.
In his speech, the Romanian top diplomat addressed the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In recent months, Romania has relied on multilateralism, responsibility and empathy. It was the first country to host the common European reserve of emergency medical equipment, distributing medical supplies to neighboring countries and beyond. We also offered bilateral support packages and medical staff to countries such as the Republic of Moldova, Italy, the US and, most recently, Ukraine,” he pointed out.
The Romanian ForMin referenced the 19 principles set forth in the Warsaw Declaration, which brought together, 20 years ago, “106 states in different stages of the democratic path, but animated by the same democratic ideal.”
In this context, Aurescu also spoke about Romania’s evolution.
“At that time, Romania was not yet a NATO or EU member, but it was making efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions and practices. Today, the EU and NATO membership, together with the Strategic Partnership with the United States, are the pillars of our foreign policy,” Bogdan Aurescu pointed out.
Noting that “Romania is a solid democracy, with a mature civil society, a free and dynamic press,” he went on to say that “respect for the rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms are values we share with many partners and friends around the world.”
The COVID crisis has more than a health dimension, the ForMin remarked. “Some use the pandemic to prove the inefficiency of the authorities; other actors blame external enemies for the internal difficulties or despise the liberal values and rush to categorize them as obsolete,” he said, according to Agerpres.
According to Aurescu, fake news, misinformation and confusion “which question the values of our community, are present more than ever in the news feeds.”
“This reality requires coordinated and determined action. We must not stand idle, or otherwise our common heritage, as well as the well-being of our fellow citizens will be undoubtedly affected,” said the Romanian top diplomat.
Following this thread, he spoke about the possibility of this crisis becoming one of democracy.
“I am convinced that we should use the momentum of the anniversary of the Community of Democracies to focus on what we can do to prevent this health crisis from becoming a crisis of democracy,” he said.
At the same time, the ForMin referred to the priority of promoting “accurate information on the state of affairs and the citizens’ rights and duties during the pandemic”.
Aurescu also announced that Romania will organize in the second half of July a Virtual Forum for Youth, which will aim to share best practices at regional level in terms of political and civic participation of young people.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined that the Romanian Presidency of the Community of Democracies (CoD) will continue the series of events regarding the “Combat of malicious external interference with democracies”.
“We are witnessing the constant efforts of foreign entities to blur the line between truth and falsehood, to sow confusion and distrust in democratically elected governments. Unfortunately, this seems to have become a feature of our times,” the Romanian official said.
“I want to reaffirm my conviction that democracy is not always a triumphal march, but rather a marathon of adaptability, endurance and commitment to working together – a marathon that we must win together,” Bogdan Aurescu said.
The Romanian Foreign Minister chaired this Friday the 20th Anniversary Community of Democracies Virtual Conference, in the context of Romania exercising the CoD presidency (2019 – 2021).
The event was attended by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, founder of the Community of Democracies, as keynote speaker. The conference was co-moderated by Community of Democracies Secretary General Thomas Garrett.