A European NE(r)D?

Iraq Elections - Cartoon Stock 

The EU Observer reports today that Washington is pressuring Brussels to create a US-type pro-democracy foundation like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to accelerate change in ex-Soviet and Middle Eastern states:

“We think it’s high time Europe had the same kind of facility,” senior US diplomat Scott Carpenter told external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner at a Brussels seminar on Thursday (7 December). “If you want the best bang for your buck, the only way to promote civil society in the world is through NGOs,” he said. “We should be pushing them [foreign states], yes, I use the word ‘pushing,’ to encourage them to be more democratic.”

Clearly, the Commission won’t have any of it, given it has been doing pro-Democracy work its own way for years now, yet there are other politicians which seem to endorse this idea, with British Tory MEP Edward McMillan-Scott leading the pack. The way these politicians all assume NGOs can just be set up and used for their own governmental purposes plays straight into the camp of those vociferously claiming that NGOs are none other than Trojan horses for the political interests of the rich and powerful western nations.

Is it just me, or some people some times just don’t get it? Which bit of NON-governmental do they not understand?

Funny thing is, Timothy Garton Ash wasn’t saying something too dissimilar when he suggested the creation of something along the lines of a ‘European Foundation for Freedom’ during his recent LSE lecture, but at least he had the decency of saying it should have nothing to do with the Commission or any other government, to avoid ‘compromising misunderstandings’ when Embassy personnel is caught fidgeting with spying equipment in central Moscow…


One response to “A European NE(r)D?

  1. I got loads of issues with non-governmental “democracy” promotion. Go ask Benita Ferrero-Waldner if he wants free and fair democratic elections in Egypt, for example.

    And, as I have said, there is a really surprising hypocricy in the US in which “democracy and governance” experts think it is perfectly normal for us to forbid foreign democracy NGOs from working in the US. This is the crap that plays into the hands of all the less-than-democratic regimes from letting in independent organizations.

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