NEW YORK, 22 SEPTEMBER 2004
STATEMENT BY HE AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND OF THE PORTUGUESE COMMUNITIES, TO THE MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES
(held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York)
I congratulate you and the Chilean Presidency for this initiative.
This forum is reaching a stage of maturity. A large number of states are now able to discuss, in an informal and open way, themes crucial to the consolidation of democracy, rule of law, good governance, peace and prosperity.
With a clear sense of purpose - the strengthening of still fragile democracies in countries in transition - the Community of Democracies needs to centre its activities on specific operational-oriented missions. Taking experts to the field, exchanging experiences and promoting discussion of the values we uphold, are the practical contributions we can make. It is there that this forum gains its relevance and its usefulness.
A striking example of this as you mentioned Madam Chairperson, was the mission to East Timor last Nay. Its success - and the Timorese authorities have on several occasions shared with us the benefits they got from this exercise - rested not so much on declarations and statements about democracy and the rule of law, but rather on the expertise that the members of the mission shared with the local authorities, on how best to overcome the difficulties and problems which on a daily basis a young and fragile democracy necessarily faces.
We hope that in the future similar missions may be scheduled for other countries. Democracy is not an invention of the West and its application to society is not confined to certain countries. Democracy is global, a universal system applicable to all countries, in all regions, with all cultures. The regional balance between the members of the Community of Democracies is a clear reflection of this reality.
In this context, the proposal for a Caucus of Democracies at the UN, that we support, would give a new impetus to the universality of the concept of Democracy.
We are sure that the Third Ministerial Conference, to be held in Santiago, will consolidate our 'acquis', forming the basis for an innovative dialogue between governments, civil society, and NGOs. We look forward to working closely with the Presidency in furthering the aims of this Community.