Mar 30, 2023

President Biden Hosts The Summit For Democracy Virtual Plenary Transcript

President Biden Hosts The Summit For Democracy Virtual Plenary Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsAntony Blinken TranscriptsPresident Biden Hosts The Summit For Democracy Virtual Plenary Transcript

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken participate in the second Summit for Democracy in Washington, D.C. Read the transcript here.

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Joe Biden (00:00):

Are we on?

Speaker 1 (00:11):

Wait for the cue.

Joe Biden (00:17):

Shall I begin? Hello, everyone. Let me start by apologizing for the slight cold I have. That’s the only thing that’s happening to me these days. Let me start by thanking everyone for participating in the second Summit for Democracy, I should say. But more importantly, thank you for the work you’ve put in over the last 15 months to deliver on commitments you made to each other and to our peoples from the first Summit for Democracy.

Look, that’s the power of these summits. Not just to speak high-minded words and shine a spotlight in those critical issues, but to galvanize action and translate to concrete progress for people around the world. That’s how we make democracy deliver for everyone. Here’s what I hope everyone gathered here and everyone watching around the world takes away from this summit. It’s working. It’s working. When we gathered here in December of 2021, the sentiment in too many places around the world was that democracy’s best days were behind us.

Democracy declined by some measures for 15 consecutive years, but this year we can say there’s a different story to tell. Thanks to the commitment of leaders in global gathered today in the persistence of people in every region of the world, demanding their rights be respected and their voices being heard. We’re seeing real indications that we’re turning the tide here. As I often say, we’re at an inflection point in history here, where the decisions we make today are going to affect the course of our world for the next several decades for certain. We’re going forward from this summit. Our job is to keep building on our progress so we don’t start heading in the wrong direction again to keep the momentum going. This is a turning point for our world toward greater freedom, greater dignity, and greater democracy.

Here in the United States, we’ve demonstrated that our democracy can still do big things and deliver important progress for working Americans. We’re bringing down the cost of essentials, like prescription drugs and health insurance premiums. We’re giving families a little bit more… My dad used to say a little bit more breathing room. We’re rebuilding America’s infrastructure, driving innovation, and tackling the climate crisis, all while creating good union jobs and investing in communities that too often have been left behind in the past.

We’re also demonstrating the resilience of American democracy. During our free, fair, and secure elections last fall, America’s first national national election since January 6th attack on our Capitol, voters resoundingly and roundly rejected the voices of extremism, attacking and undermining our democracy. The right to vote, to have your vote counted, is a threshold of democracy and liberty everywhere in the world. With it, anything is possible.Wwithout it, in my view, nothing is possible. That’s why earlier this year, I was proud to sign the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform Act to ensure American elections continue to reflect the will of the American people and protect the peaceful transfer of power.

We’re going to keep working to further strengthen protections by working to pass what we call the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. They’re just to further strengthen our democracy. It’s not just the United States that’s delivering on our commitment and demonstrating the power of democracy. Angola is taking steps to build independent judiciary, creating three new regional courts of appeal, which are going to help process cases more quickly. The Dominican Republic has modernized its Anti-Corruption Law to create more than 100 anti-corruption offices at local levels. Croatia is implementing a multi-year anti-corruption plan to increase government transparency and better oversee public procurement.

There are many more examples I could give, but I’m not going to take the time in many other countries for every person from countries taking the first steps toward reform, to have well established democracies of people making real changes, to protect and strengthen their democracy. Look, all we know… It’s not easy. This has never been easy. Democracy is hard work. The work of democracy is never finished. It’s never laid down and that’s it. All you have to do is it must be protected constantly.

We have to continually renew our commitment, continually strengthen our institutions, root out corruption where we find it, seek to build consensus and reject political violence, give hate and extremism no safe harbor. We have to continue efforts to advance the rights and dignity, and I emphasize the word dignity of all people, including women and girls. Because wherever women and girls are on threat, democracy, peace, and stability are at risk as well. We can’t achieve our goals if we’re leaving more than half the world’s population out of the solution.

We just heard from two incredible women who made an incredible case regarding Belarus. They’re not only women, they’re leaders. They deserve and all women deserve to be represented. Moreover, when we advance equality and racial justice, we’re investing in young people, protect the LGBTQ+ individuals. Our societies are not only fair, but they’re stronger and more successful. Democracy demands full and equal participation of all of our citizens. That’s how we unleash the human potential and put ourselves in the strongest possible position to take on the shared challenges, and I emphasize shared Challenges.

When democracy stand together, we reinforce and amplify each other’s efforts to great effect. We’ve seen it over and over again, democracy stepping up to lead and to solve problems together, not just for our own people but for the world. From our work to coordinate a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen global health security, so we’re better prepared to prevent and respond to a future global health threats; to our commitment to raise our ambitions on climate goals that we have, to preserve our planet, literally preserve our planet for future generations; to making sure parents can feed their children, strengthening food security by building more sustainable and resilient food systems around the globe.

The unprecedented unity we’ve seen from democracies, condemning Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine and standing in solidarity with the brave Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy. Today, the United States is building on our enduring commitment to boost democracy globally. At the first summit of democracy, I launched a presidential initiative for democratic renewal, committed more than $400 million to shore up transparent and accountable governance, support for media freedom, to fighting, international corruption, stand with democracy and democratic reformers, promote technology that advances democracy, defend elections.

Now, working in close cooperation with the United States Congress, we plan to add another $690 million for new funding for the presidential initiative over the next two years. Over the course of three years, my administration intends to work with Congress to commit $ 9.5 billion across all our efforts to advance democracy around the world. We’re all safer when that occurs. We’re creating a new Bureau of Democracy and Human Rights and Governance at USAID to implement many of these funding commitments to enhance our support for democratic initiatives globally.

One key focus of our democracy work will be in making sure that technologies can continue to develop that are used to advance democratic governance, not used to undermine it. As part of this, early this week, I signed an executive order here in the United States to restrict US government’s use of commercial spyware that has been abused to target dissonance, activists, and journalists around the world, including in the United States. US taxpayer dollars should not support companies that are willing to sell their products to abate human rights and violations or, excuse me, a abet human rights violations.

I want to thank those countries who are joining us this week in committing to regulate the use of commercial spyware. This effort is one of many. My administration is leading in the digital space for strengthening tools for internet freedom, to better protecting activists and journalists from cyber threats, harassment, abuse, and shaping emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, so that they deliver and develop things that are in line with our values. As you can probably tell, strengthening democracy is a subject about which I’m somewhat passionate.

I believe this is a defining challenge of our age. Today, we can say with pride that the democracies of the world are getting stronger, not weaker. Autocracies of the world are getting weaker, not stronger. That’s a direct result of all of us coming together with confidence in ourselves and conviction in our cause. Governments from around the globe, representatives of civil society and business, democratic activists and trade unionist, people who refuse to stand silent at attempts to erode their rights. All of us are making the choice to be leaders of our world and what our world needs to make democracy stronger, to keep the torch of liberty burning for ourselves and generations to come. We have to keep going and we will. Thanks to the Republican of Korea for stepping forward to host the next Summit for Democracy. We’ll sustain this forum as a driver of progress, for progress, and the anchor for our commitment to one another.

Thank you all again for participating. I look forward to all of you, each one of you to hearing from you. I’m now going to turn this over to the president of Slovakia. Madam President, it’s all yours.

Zuzana Čaputová (11:15):

President Biden, excellences, dear all, thank you for bringing us together. This is the time we must all mobilize. We need to defend and strengthen democracy. As a NATO and European Union member, Slovakia will do its share not just in Ukraine, our neighbor. Russia’s aggression is a threat to global peace and democracy. Our support, including military aid… How do Ukrainians protect their rights in line with the UN charter? The world support for Ukraine’s defense fight must continue for as long as it takes. This is our joint investment in peace and democracy, but we must also do more to strengthen democracy at home. Our citizens need to see that democracy responds to their needs. The democracy guarantees through equality before the law, better public service, more transparency, and less corruption. They must feel that democracy helps bridge, not amplify differences.

Slovakia had a productive year of action. We focused on improving the rule of law and our judicial system. Independent judiciary must be a public service available to all citizens and businesses. We introduced a new court system, which has increased accountability of judges and prosecutors while preserving their independence. Corruption is another major threat to democracy. It destroys public trust in our institutions.

We set up a new independent agency to protect whistleblowers. Our Register of Beneficial Owners helps prevent money laundering in our public procurement system. It will serve as a legal standard across Europe. We invite other global partners to join. Democracy also face attacks on free media and increase of disinformation. These are mostly spread through social media. We cannot be naive and allow freedom of speech to be cover for verbal crimes, hate speech on lies. Five years ago, a young Slovakian investigative journalist and his fiance were murdered for his work. Last year, a radicalized teenager killed two young queer people in the streets of our capital. He got radicalized on social media. In response, we launched a system to protect journalists if they face threats.

Zuzana Čaputová (14:00):

We also increased our support for media freedom and independent journalism in Ukraine and the Western Balkans. We must do more and increase the accountability of social media platforms. Their business model is based on encouraging the lowest of emotions, polarization and fragmentation. [inaudible 00:14:23], We are living in times of several crises. We cannot allow democracy to be the victim of this crisis because democracy is the solution. Thank you.

Speaker 2 (14:37):

Thank you very much, President Čaputová. We’d like to turn now to Malawi President, Chakwera. Mr. President.

President Chakwera (14:48):

Your excellency, Mr. Joseph Biden, President of the United States of America, excellencies. Ladies and gentlemen, when Ukraine came under attack just over a year ago, ever democracy represented at this summit understood that this was an aggression, not just against Ukraine, but against liberty itself. It was therefore altogether appropriate and right for every nation that loves freedom to not only condemn it with words, but to stand with Ukraine with action. When I spoke with President Zelensky a few months ago to pledge my support of his country’s cause, it was out of my conviction that when any democracy comes under attack in a way that claims the lives of hundreds of its citizens, displaces hundreds of thousands of its people, destroys its economy and infrastructure and threatens the enjoyment of freedom and human rights within its borders, it is simply not enough for other democracies to offer words of solidarity, it is therefore commendable that the nations gathered here have continued to give Ukraine the resource support it needs to safeguard its liberty. I pray that this deployment of support continues.

My appeal today is that this same spirit be extended to democracies like Malawi that are also under attack from a different adversary, climate change. In the last three weeks, tropical cyclone, Freddy, has killed over 500 Malawians with just as many still missing, has destroyed over 40 roads, washed away over 100,000 homes, leaving over half a million people homeless and their enjoyment of freedom and human rights in jeopardy.

Considering that Malawi did not bring this attack on itself, but is suffering the consequences of industrial actions by other nations, I ask you this one question; is it not a moral duty for you, who love freedom, to come to Malawi’s aid with substantial resources for relief and reconstruction that address the global challenge of climate injustice? I believe it is. I implore you all to respond to Malawi’s present distress call with more than words of solidarity and crumbs of tokenism. That is the only way we can show the world that we are as committed to seeing democracy deliver climate justice in the global south.

While we are grateful for the initial support we received, I must commend President Zelensky approach. While, his government has taken the initiative to first ask us what we need so as to respond in ways that make a lasting difference. That’s the way to go. I thank you for your attention.

Speaker 2 (18:29):

Thank you very much. President Chakwera. We turn now to President Zelensky of Ukraine. Mr. President.

President Zelensky (18:41):

Thank you very much. Mr. President Biden, thank you for this summit for another step in consolidating the world in defense of freedom. Dear, colleagues. Now is the decisive time and it is our joint responsibility. What exactly will determine this time? Will we pass on to our children and grandchildren the values of freedom that we have ourselves or will they have to fight for democracy from scratch? Modern generations of many democratic countries do not know from their life experience that freedom cannot be taken for granted. Most people can only learn about these from history textbooks, from the stories of war of the battles that took place generations ago and battles of freedom borne by others. The experience of the enemies of freedom is always fresh. They don’t refer to textbooks. They know how to break democracy and destroy life. It is enough for them to have the slightest feeling that they can go unpunished and then evil acts.

This is where their threat to our values comes from. This is why democracy is in danger. Ukraine knows what it is to fight for democracy right now. Let our experience of preserving freedom during total war [inaudible 00:20:30] protect the free world each of your peoples. When you see Ukrainian cities see this burned by Russian aggression, and when you see brave Ukrainian soldiers that stop the movement of the aggression through our land, notice what you are actually seeing. This is deciding the fate, of not only Ukraine, this is deciding the fate of everyone who is used to living freely, Russian propagandists and accomplices like that. Allegedly the west is fighting against Russia on the territory of Ukraine it’s worse understanding what is really going on. It is Ukraine that tyrannical Russia is able to reach with its bloody hands, with missiles and artillery, bombs and tanks, but the Kremlin’s ambitions does not and just where its hands reach.

Russia has been at work with all of you for a long time with the democracies of the world. It fights via disinformation, election interference, espionage, corruption, exploiting cyber crime by trying to trigger an energy crisis and price explosions in market that will hit your people with insane electricity or gas bills. Look, the Kremlin is trying to turn even food provision into a weapon. Blocks the sea to create a shortage in the global food market. Why is this happen? This is war. Ladies and gentlemen, this is war, precisely against freedom and democracy. Every [inaudible 00:22:37] of freedom acts in the same way. I emphasize, they act.

The enemies of freedom have not lost a single year in recent decades, they channeled all their time and unlimited money which they gained in trade with the free world to weaken and to corrupt and to undermine democracy. Have all the efforts of the free world been aimed at limiting the aggressive potential of tyrants and autocrats and bringing them to legal responsibility for their crimes? Unfortunately, no. We have to fix it. Democracy must be able to act and act in advance. Democracy must learn to be uncompromising in the face of evil. The spirit of democracy is to find a compromise, but this only works for internal freedom in a given country. We should get rid of the illusion that compromising with evil can give something to freedom. The enemies of democracy must lose. Only this can be the basis of true security for democracy.

Embrace this Ukrainian determination. Ukrainian democracy maintains absolute internal unity, even in the face of a total war against our people. To win is our national bull. What does it mean to win? Our answer is [inaudible 00:24:23]; to preserve freedom, to preserve dignity, to preserve our land. What is the strategy of the free world in relation to totalitarian Russia, which is looking for how to create more totalitarian allies in the world? Is there such a clear strategy? I will tell you what it should be, clear answer. Evil must lose the war. If it loses now it will know that it will always lose everywhere [inaudible 00:24:59]. We should not think how to save Putin’s face in order to allegedly review the cause of fighting him. We should think how to preserve respect for democracy in those countries where freedom has yet to win.

Second, when a fire breaks out, firefighters cannot wait months for fire trucks to be provided or accept that fire hydrants should be mandatory only for short distances. It works the same way in war. The more restrictions on their defendants, the more casualties and destruction because the flames of aggression know no bonds. That is why the defense of democracy must have all the weapons that will reliably guarantee the defeat of the aggressor. Thought, Russians must contribute to protecting the world from their Kremlin whose impunity they have tolerated. It is necessary to look for freeze and direct for recovering not only individual assets of the aggressor state and individual related parties, but all assets of Russia and Russian wealthy who have traded silence for increasing their wealth. They must have a motive to act in defense of freedom and to bring an end to this aggression and the Kremlin’s terrorist rule.

Dear colleagues, war makes things crystal, crystal clear. These days I visited our regions near the frontline and there you can see what aspects of leadership are needed now, when our fighters repel the assaults near Bakhmut, they cannot wait for weeks before firing an artillery [inaudible 00:27:15] in response to the enemy sanctions. The fire must be immediate and neutralize the threat. All our decisions should be just as quick, but for some reason, sanctions against Russia are much slower than Russia’s aggression. Global pressure on Russia elite is weaker than its motif to accept. The Kremlin support for Ukrainian soldiers in the trenches is less far-reaching than the weapons of the terrorists acting against us. Your own willingness to defend your democracies is less reasonable

President Zelensky (28:00):

… and the intentions of those who want a world war against democracy. Democracy needs a victory now, this year. Not some other time, not over time, now, and we are able to ensure this. Ukraine and everyone who helps and I’m sure we will, but act please, colleagues. Thank you very much for your attention. Thank you for your support, Mr. President and to all colleagues, glory to all who fight for freedom [foreign language 00:28:34].

Speaker 2 (28:35):

Thank you very much. President Zelensky. The floor is now to the President of Ecuador, President Lasso.

President Lasso (28:51):

Dear President Biden, dear presidents and colleagues. More than a year has passed since our last meeting at which point we were optimistic about a post pandemic recovery that would allow for economic reactivation, adequate attention to the most affected vulnerable populations, and increased cooperation among countries to assimilate and learn the lessons of that painful episode in recent world history.

Unfortunately, the situation has changed and since the end of February last year, we have been facing a reality marked by the violation of the principles of the United Nations charter with Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, which has endangered international peace and security and has led to a humanitarian crisis that continues to deteriorate day by day and has exacerbated the nuclear threat.

This has resulted in additional global problems such as food insecurity and serious effects on economies, particularly in developing countries. In the face of this, what is left for us? Democracy, because democracy more than ever is positioned as one of the most important values in the development of countries because it is what allows us to opt for peace and it’s consolidated with more democracy because it respects for human rights and the preservation of the environment.

In addition to the global problems that affect all states, there are scourges whose harmful influence on human beings and society has multiplied becoming, and I’m talking about transnational organized crime. Crime, which is one of the most dangerous threats of democracy. The scope of international or criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, arms trafficking and murder or illegal mining amongst other criminal forms have the potential of undermining the basis of democracy.

These organizations tirelessly seek to influence the various spheres of politics and justice. We need urgent action at a regional as well as global scale. In fact, even the legitimate social protest and political differences, normal tools in a democratic system, have been sullied by the malicious ambition of these criminal organizations.

Today we see that these criminal organizations would be allegedly linked to social and political actors and groups whose objective is to promote destabilization, ungovernability and chaos in order to operate freely. We will not allow this. The success of the fight against organized transnational crime depends largely on international corporation since the resources and sophistication of criminal structures exceeds the national capacities of many of our countries.

Hence, this summit is an excellent opportunity to reiterate our commitment to democracy but also to translate our will into actions and initiatives that allow for the effective consolidation of this political regime and of the set of values, attitudes, and beliefs that democracy implies. It is time to face the root of several of the problems that afflict our people and the first one is the attempts to destabilize democracy.

Whether they are born of an unbridled desire for power, whether they come from the frustration of not having achieved the majority votes, whether they arise from the influence of unhealthy interest that aim to thrive in chaos. These attempts do not leave democracy alone.

Fortunately, those waves of revolt crash against the walls of democracy itself when the constituted powers are solid and when the control mechanisms are in place. Other factors that must be corrected so that they do not corrode democracy have to do with the wellbeing of citizens. The lack of employment or economic stagnation must be resolved through active policies of private investment and public management. Our citizens deserve countries with opportunities free of corruption and violence. Countries where risking one’s life to migrate in search of a better future is not even an option.

At the first summit, my country adopted several commitments to strengthen policies for the protection of human rights, gender equity, attention to persons with disabilities, as well as to improve transparency processes and combat corruption. Ecuador has fulfilled its commitments and has identified additional steps to guarantee the continuity of these processes for the benefit of the citizens. Ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government, democracy is the [inaudible 00:35:56] element for the development of our people and because of it and for it, we associate and seek together to face the global challenges that afflict mankind.

I invite you to continue working together in the international community, defending democracy and freedoms, preserving peace and generating joint and coordinated efforts to ensure the best future for our people. Thank you very much and may God bless us.

Speaker 2 (36:37):

Thank you very much, Mr. President. We turn now to President Sandu, Moldova. Madam President.

Speaker 3 (36:42):

3, 2, 1, [foreign language 00:36:47].

President Sandu (36:49):

[inaudible 00:36:50] governments, distinguished guests. I’m honored to address today’s summit and to join our lives in promoting democracy as a vehicle for peace and prosperity, security and stability. A stable democracy is a beacon, a bright light that Moldova currently sees through a clouded lens with a full fledged war at our border and Kremlin funded hybrid operations aimed at the stabilizing our country. Moldova’s democracy is fragile, yet we refuse to allow these perils to upend our stability, our security, our way of life.

Moldova’s authorities are working diligently to build a resilient nation and to consolidate people’s support for democracy, but we cannot do it alone. We are seeking partners among other democracies to help us remain part of the free world and to support our quest for EU membership. This is the only way to safeguard Moldova’s democracy.

We face significant challenges that we are resolute in our commitment to overcoming them. Our administration emerged from what felt like a failure of democracy, a time of corrupt politics. We saw a better way and worked hard to win people’s trust. We fought for free and fair elections and for campaigns funded by transparent and legal donations. We introduced reforms aimed at uprooting corruption in customs banking, education and public administration. We are now fighting a significant battle against corruption in the justice sector.

We know that institutional corruption and judicial dishonesty sabotages the belief that democracy can deliver security, economic opportunities and justice. We are calling for democratic allies to join us in a global sanctions regime to identify and deter cases of grant corruption. We are proud to lead the summit’s cohort on international cooperation and anti-corruption in this year of action. Together with Transparency International and Basel Institute on Governance, learning from each other how to more effectively investigate high level cases of corruption and recover illicitly acquired assets.

Equally important, we need to work together more effectively to counter disinformation and propaganda, they threaten our democracies. Today in a joint regional effort of eight governments, our prime minister sent an open letter to big tech companies demanding better ways to counter the spread of false narratives that could destabilize our countries.

Ladies and gentlemen, at the time of war, Moldova is a litmus test for the US, the EU member states and other democratic nations. Our security and our faith that democracy can and will deliver must also be yours. In other words, our stability is in your interest. Thank you.

Speaker 2 (40:31):

Thank you very much, Madam President. We turn now to Niger, President Bazoum. [foreign language 00:40:37].

Speaker 4 (40:41):

President Bazoum, you have the floor.

President Bazoum (40:48):

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted and honored to participate with you in this Democracy Summit. Thank you so much for this invitation. Thank you, President Biden.

From time immemorial, human societies have embraced forms of governance that are the most likely to ensure their cohesion, security, and sustainability. Every person has a desire for freedom at the heart of his or her being, which is the prerequisite for their integrity. Philosophers, statesmen and citizens have worked throughout history to find the best possible form of government.

For us who are committed to the real world, the philosophical and moral debate has been settled by experience. Democracy is the best form of government, and Winston Churchill rightly said, cynically, that it was the worst except for all the others that have been tried. It is our irrevocable and assumed choice within the framework of which we are currently reflecting on the modalities for the performance of democracy according to

President Bazoum (42:00):

… the specific context of each country and the contingent circumstances. These different modalities, while they aim at the absolute, nevertheless remain relative.

In my country, Indonesia, for the past 30 years, there has been an irrepressible wave, which is the result of the energy of committed activists and citizens driven by an inflexible resolve, which has formerly imposed democracy.

Our young democracy has just succeeded in 2021 in achieving the first democratic change through the ballot box, which reflects the maturity of the people and the wisdom of the leaders. Democracy, which is the source of dignity and freedom, is based on the capacity of citizens to make calm and informed choices. That is why [inaudible 00:42:48] is making good governance a condition for the stability of state institutions and education, especially the education of young girls.

This is a priority for us because we believe that for democracy to flourish, we need educated citizens who are able to fully take on their rights and duties. Democracy is an ideal that must be experienced and practiced. It cannot be imposed and endured. It must be earned. It is fragile, and we must always keep human dignity and freedom in mind as we make our way through the turmoil of the ongoing global and multidimensional.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, at this historic time of a breakdown and paradigm shifts, there are forces that denigrate and threaten democracy by presenting it as a concept that is specific to certain cultures. These forces are waging a battle to reintroduce authoritarian models of power that are at odds with humanity’s evolution.

Democracy is a common good. Let’s support one another and ensure that it is sustained with the most stringent requirements. Because the other danger that democracy faces is something that comes from external sources because of lowering of democratic requirements.

Thank you for your attention.

Antony Blinken (44:22):

[foreign language 00:44:22]. We go now to Denmark, Prime Minister Frederiksen.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (44:31):

Thank you, Mr. President for hosting this second Summit for Democracy. It is great to see all of you and thank you for your interesting interventions today.

In today’s digital age, tech is at the heart of our democracy. Billions of people have access to knowledge and information. And even across continents, we can communicate, exchange information, views as we do right now.

One example is sitting right here in our circle, Mr. President Zelensky. Every day you speak directly to your people and to the world. You are constantly in contact with governments, parliaments and other democratic forces and our people. Your example shows us how tech can keep democracy alive under extremely difficult circumstances.

In the fight for democracy, tech is part of the solution, but tech can also be used to oppress, to hide the truth, to censor and to control people. Russia is one example. Unfortunately, it is not the only one. Around the world, we see anti-democratic forces shutting down the internet, using tech to control people, to restrict freedom of expression. And even in established democracies, tech can challenge the public debate. We see echo chambers emerge on social media, fake news and hate speech against women, minorities, and political opponents. Tech giants have a responsibility and so do we as political leaders. One of the big tasks facing us today is how do we make tech work for the democracy and not against it? Denmark is proud to contribute to this agenda. Two years ago, we launched our own platform, Tech for Democracy, that brings together governments, organizations, tech industry, and of course the civil society. We have rallied more than 200 partners now around a new vision for democratic digital future.

We want tech to enhance democratic debate, to promote human rights, to protect democratic values, and with our new funding mechanism, Digital Democracy Initiative, we have committed to this very purpose.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, in the midst of the digital age, we have a great opportunity to make democracy blossom. Thank you, dear colleagues. We have to support Ukraine against Russia’s aggression. We have to ensure a sustainable development all over the world, and we have, of course, to fight climate change and we have to stand up for our common values.

Thank you.

Antony Blinken (47:40):

Thank you very much, Prime Minister. President Cortizo, Panama. The floor is yours.

President Laurentino Cortizo (47:53):

Good morning, President Biden, esteemed colleagues, esteemed presidents, Mr. Blinken. I would like to begin my introduction with a few personal reflections on democracy.

If I had to choose amongst the many definitions of democracy there are, the one that I think gets closer to the real concept is what Abraham Lincoln said when he said “A government by the people, for the people.”

Democracy is also respecting human rights, diversity, justice, the rule of law, transparency, freedom of expression, and a dignified life. The situation we’re currently in globally is determined by global problems such as the climate crisis, irregular migration, drug trafficking, which is curtailing state powers, increases in the prices of food and commodities.

To these factors, we have to add conflicts such as the war in Ukraine and the calls for inclusion that justly are making many groups that have been excluded from development. All this is having a negative impact in the exercise of democracy.

Faced with this, governance and governments have the responsibility of developing public policy in order to reduce the poverty gap and inequality. Unless we do that, democracy will continue being just pointless electoral process without any other result, but a change in administration, lack of trust in the system, and growing instability.

Sometimes we think of democracy as just a formula, and in and of itself that could maybe solve magically other problems for people. But in the sense, I want to quote Nelson Mandela. He said, “If there’s no food when you’re hungry, if there’s no medicine when you’re sick, if there’s ignorance, if the fundamental rights of people are not respected, democracy is nothing but an empty shell. It doesn’t matter if citizens go to vote, it doesn’t matter if they have a parliament. It’s empty.”

And I want to mention this because I want to talk about the significant important that it holds for me, food sovereignty. In this sense, I mean respecting the rights of our countries to have a strong agricultural production that guarantees food on the table for its population and the protection of our producers activity.

In Panama, during the hardest years in the pandemic, while the airports and the harbors of the rest of the world were closed, it was our producers that allowed us to put quality food on our people’s tables. In this sense, trade relationships, bilateral and multilateral trade relationships have to take into account in a fair way the asymmetries between our countries and the enormous impact that this loyal trade practices have on us, so that we can guarantee a more equitable exchange between countries.

For countries like ours, food sovereignty as an instrument is going to generate wealth within our borders, and that’s an important factor for the strengthening of our democracy and something that fosters social peace.

I’d like to conclude alluding to the climate crisis, which is one of the main challenges for all of us, and it affects the lives of every single living being in this planet. On this topic, I want to remind everybody that Panama has been contributing as one of three countries in the world, negative carbon emissions.

However, if the efforts carried out by a small emerging nation such as ours find no correspondence from the part of those who should contribute more, then perhaps one should ask oneself what are they doing, the most developed countries? On this particular topic, I would recommend that you read and implement the guidelines for the survival coming from the IPCC report on global warming.

To summarize it, we need to act now. In the next 10 years, we need to go from words to action. Esteemed presidents, extolling democracy’s virtues will be in vain because by itself, that won’t help countries to do anything unless we take action, unless we implement specific measures to improve the global context.

Thank you so much.

Antony Blinken (53:57):

Thank you, President Cortizo. President Biden, any concluding comments?

Joe Biden (54:00):

Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your last comments. I agree with you completely.

Let me just close by thanking all of you again for making a priority for your country and for the world more democracy. We’re covering a lot of ground in these sessions today on all ways democracy is at the heart of all that we hope achieve and for our people.

Spurring economic growth, shared prosperity, unfolding justice, and upholding it as well, strengthening our institutions, taking global challenges, tackling them head on, advancing inclusion and equity for all our people. The great strength of democracy is that it gives us all the tools we need for self-government and self-improvement.

I’m proud to stand with all of you to defend those fundamental values we all share: justice, the rule of law, free speech, assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and our core belief in the interest of human rights for every single individual in the world.

We’ve accomplished a great deal together, but we all know how much work lies ahead. We’ve proven we’re up to the challenge, but with the Republic of Korea hosting the next Summit of Democracy, we’re going to keep going together, all of us, so I thank you all very much. I won’t take any more of your time, but I’ve been impressed by what you’ve had to say.

Thank you all very, very much.

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