GMF’s Bratislava conference champions democracy in Eastern Europe February 23, 2005 / Bratislava
Taking place the day before President George W. Bush met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the setting for the German Marshall Fund's February 23 conference "A New Quest for Democracy" could not have been more fitting.
Speakers from Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, and other Eastern European countries pressed Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda to put democracy at the top of the summit's agenda. He said he would do his best.
In association with the Slovak Foreign Policy Association and the Institute for Public Affairs in Slovakia, the conference brought together a prestigious group of participants, among them Jan Kubis, the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Irina Krasovskaya, President of the We Remember Foundation in Belarus, which she started after her husband’s disappearance; Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy; Bruce Jackson, President of the Project on Transitional Democracies; and Jacques Rupnik, Director of Studies at the Center for International Research, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, France.
Many contributors expressed optimism about the future of democracy in wider Europe following recent events in Ukraine, where pro-Western reformer Viktor Yushchenko won the presidency in December following the "Orange Revolution." Additionally, several young "champions of freedom" were on hand to share their experiences in fomenting democratic revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, and Serbia. Among them was GMF’s own Pavol Demes, head of GMF’s Bratislava office, who was among those "champions" selected to meet with President Bush.