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Buzek's opening remarks on the High Level Panel on: "Election support as a political instrument"

Brussels -
Tuesday 04/10/2011

"Dear Baroness Ashton, Dear President Carter,

Dear Prime Minister, Distinguished Representatives,  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me warmly welcome you to this High Level Panel on “Election support as a political instrument”. For the European Parliament and for the European Union in general, hosting this year's meeting is an honour and an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to promote democracy abroad.

There is a renewed democratic momentum worldwide; not only in the Middle East and North Africa. This lends a new sense of urgency to the cause of democracy support. While we cannot impose democracy from the outside, we must do everything to support the legitimate aspirations of those that seek it.

For example, the European Parliament will be sending observers to Tunisia. We are ready to engage and to help whenever, and wherever we are called upon. This is our commitment.  

However, it is important to underline that we observe elections only when we are invited and we do not want to change this practice. We do not want to impose any model of governance or any way of organising elections and we do not go there to teach a lesson. 

In the last years, the European Parliament and the European Commission have been working together to enhance the added value of EU election observation missions.

But I believe it is important that all actors work together - both the EU institutions but also the UN, OSCE; the Carter Centre, NDI other NGOs and national governments. We need to show that when it comes to democracy promotion, we not only bring our strengths to the table but we also speak the same language.

By working together we can ensure that there will be "better" more transparent elections. We can play a role in helping to create stronger institutions. In some cases our missions are vital because they support free and fair elections after a long time or in some cases for the very first time in history. But elections are only the beginning. In fact the first elections are important but the real test of democratic consolidation is often the subsequent elections that follow: the second or third elections.  

I agree with Baroness Ashton on this - that for democracy to be consolidated, it needs to be "deep democracy".  This means that what happens after the elections is just as important as what happens before them.  Our engagement in election support must be a long term one, with recommendations, follow-up and technical support. It must also be part of an overall approach to strengthening democracy.

Dear Friends,

The demand for election observation is growing. I see this a proof of our success but also a growing responsibility at the same time."

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