"The EU can assist in the process of democratization of Arab countries, but on our terms" - said Kinda Mohamadieh from the Arab NGO Network for Development at the conference "Democracy and Development", held on the 30th November in Warsaw. The conference was attended by activists from the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, and representatives of Polish NGOs involved in development cooperation and democracy support.
Representatives of organizations and social movements from the Arab countries agreed, that they want democracy, but fostered independently by their society. Mustafa Haid, a Syrian activist suggested that the support from the European countries should be based on the transfer of knowledge and skills related to democratic and peaceful methods of civic participation. The experience of creating a democratic basis, autonomy and self-organization from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe would be very useful, although not to be uncritically transmitted to Arab countries, because they are different from the countries in the West and diverse internally. Behind the relief efforts of European countries often stands an assumption that economic growth goes parallel with the process of democratization. This correlation does not always occur, which shows an example of Arab countries. "This restricted way of understanding the civil liberties as economic freedom may actually impede the process of social transformation started in the Arab countries." - stresses Mohamadieh.
The conference preceded a High-Level Conference on EU cooperation with countries of the South Neighbourhood (1-2 December, Warsaw), organized by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
More information, conference materials and agenda here.
Information provided by Magdalena Trojanek, Zagranica Group
(On the picture: Kinda Mohamadieh, the Arab NGO Network for Development)