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Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2022

Credit: Joachim Jacobsen & Lasse Skovgaard

Copenhagen Democracy Summit, 2022.

The Copenhagen Democracy Summit is an annual conference organized by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation. It brings together political and business leaders, including current and former heads of government, from the world’s democracies. The goal of the Summit is to be the top international forum for analysis on the security and economic challenges facing the democratic world as well as a forum for analysis on the interplay between technology and democratic norms.
This was an exciting and inspiring event, with an extraordinary line-up of speakers, given extra urgency by the recent invasion of Ukraine. You can watch all sessions on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.
urgency by the recent invasion of Ukraine. You can watch all sessions on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Some of the highlights from the Summit

Day 1, Thursday 9 th June
This day was devoted mainly to technology and cyberwar issues, and the fight against misinformation. Apparently Ukraine suffered a cyber-warfare attack the day before the physical attack on 24 th February. Memorable talks were from representatives of Microsoft and Google, who helped Ukraine repel those attacks very effectively. We also heard from a number of Democracy Tech Entrepreneur Fellows supported by the Foundation.

Introduction: Media, Truth & Trust in a Digital Age
Brad Smith, President and Vice Chair, Microsoft.
Brad Smith gave an account of Microsoft’s role in the cyberwarfare in Ukraine as mentioned above. Apparently they helped the Ukraine government departments migrate all their software to the

Freedom and Prosperity Index – In Cooperation with Atlantic Council

This was a ‘booklaunch’ of the Freedom and Prosperity index, produced by the Foundation together with the Atlantic Council. The takeaway message was that there is an extremely strong correlation between the freedom rating and the economic prosperity of each nation. For instance, over the past few decades, Taiwan and Hong Kong (which rated highly on the freedom index until recently), have gone streets ahead in prosperity relative to mainland China, which is not free. A panel discussion of the index included remarks from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Founder and Chairman of The Alliance of Democracies Foundation, and Frederick Kempe, President and CEO of Atlantic Council (appearing by video).

Voices of Freedom - Standing up to Music Censorship

Kimberley Chen

A celebrity singer performed at the event, Kimberley Chan, a Chinese- Australian from Melbourne, who was there with her family! She sang a couple of songs, which are likely to become anthems for the pro-democracy movement.

Democracy activists roundtable, evening 9 th June

Leopoldo Lopez, National Coordinator for Voluntad Popular.

Leopoldo was one of the stars of the day. He is a pro-democracy activist from Venezuela, who spent several years in prison, two of them in solitary confinement, sustained only by his beliefs. This was a discussion between democracy activists from Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar, and other autocratic states. They all had remarkable stories to tell, and suggestions for common action. Leopoldo’s main idea was to establish a network for mutual support including pro-democracy activist organizations from all countries under challenge from autocracy. Such a network could speak with much more authority than a single group acting alone, and would be much more likely to gather support from outside. They would be able to give solid support to each other through this network, which I think he named ALLIED.

Day 2, 10 th June

This day was devoted largely to the fight in Ukraine, and ways in which we might support the heroic resistance to Russian aggression being put up by the people of Ukraine. It was an exciting and inspiring day.

Introduction with Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Founder and Chairman of The Alliance of Democracies Foundation

Anders gave his usual forthright and inspiring speech, introducing the main themes of the day.
“Empowering people is what makes democracy stand out from other forms of government  empowering people to elect their own leaders but also empowering people to pursue their ambitions and shape their communities, that is what the brave men and women of Ukraine are fighting for – the ability to determine their own future.”

Launch of Democracy Perception Index 2022

Nico Jaspers, CEO of Latana

Here we saw statistical evidence of the decline in confidence in democratic values in various countries over recent years. This has been most marked in countries in the West, particularly the US, whereas paradoxically belief in democratic values remains very high in countries with low freedom ratings, such as China!

The Democracy Perception Index, released by Latana and the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, is the fifth installment of the world’s largest annual study on democracy covering more than 50 countries and representative of more than 75% of the world’s population.

Themes include threats to democracy, global politics, democracy under COVID, and a new section featuring perceptions on assistance to Ukraine.

Access the latest Democracy Perception Index 2022 information here.

Defending Ukraine: View from Kyiv
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine

Zelensky spoke by video from Ukraine, in particular asking for recognition of Ukraine as a candidate for membership of the EU. He was given a rapturous reception, with refugees from Ukraine waving flags and stamping feet, and the audience standing to applaud him for several minutes. Glory to Ukraine!

“Democracy is always about respectful words, but they only work when they are backed by action. Where is this frontline? Of course, it’s democracy, it’s Europe, and above all it’s in the mind of leaders who must act and not just speak.”

Defending Ukraine - View from Brussels

Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament

Roberta spoke about what the EU is doing to support Ukraine in its fight, and promised to lobby for support of Ukraine’s admission as a candidate for membership in the EU!
“Democracy is an issue that so many of us have taken for granted for so long, that we were almost
taken by surprise that there are those who call it into question, who think that there should not be a
future for democracy at all.

We are being called to stand up for the freedoms of democracy once again. Because if we don’t, those who believe in a very different world will.”

Standing up to Putin’s Authoritarianism – View from Free Belarus

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Leader of Belarusian Democratic Forces.
We heard about the struggle for freedom in Belarus.

Standing Up to Putin’s Authoritarianism – Message from Free Russia

Leonid Volkov, Chief of Staff for Alexey Navalny, Political Director, Anti-Corruption Foundation
We heard about the struggle for freedom by the people of Russia itself. A handwritten message from Alexey Navalny was exhibited.

Defending Ukraine - View from Tech

Kent Walker, President, Global Affairs, Google
Told us about Google’s effective part in the cyber defence of Ukraine.

Defending Ukraine – View from NATO

Mircea Geoană, NATO Deputy Secretary General

He told us about NATO’s response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has broken dozens of international treaties and conventions by its attack, and NATO is not bound by any previous agreements with them. NATO has beefed up their forces in the East, in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania etc. by something of the order of 8 new battle groups, to guard against any attack against NATO members. They are doing everything they can to expedite the accession of new members Sweden and Finland, and assuage Turkey’s qualms. In a NATO Summit meeting at the end of June, they will be discussing their new 10-year strategy out to 2030.

Standing up to Authoritarianism – View from Lithuania

Ingrida Šimonytė, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, appearing via videolink

This speech was the highlight of the day. Simonyte gave a slashing speech, every word of which
resonated with me. She noted that Ukraine’s struggle was our struggle, and noted various attempts
by Russia and Belarus, and also China, to bully Lithuania itself. If you try to appease a schoolyard
bully, it only encourages him to be more aggressive in the future. We must resist and repel Russia’s
attack, and not rest until we force him out of Ukraine entirely (a big ask,perhaps!)

“We must show that democracies are capable and are efficient in defending themselves and in helping each other. Today the choice is binary. Either we save Putin’s face or we save Ukrainian lives?
-Ingrida Simonyte

Standing up to China’s Authoritarianism – Parliamentary Perspectives

Lucy Akello, Member of the Ugandan Parliament, was particularly useful in this panel, recounting how Uganda signed on the dotted line to a Chinese contract to build a new airport, and found themselves in a ‘debt trap’ as a result.

Taiwan: An Integral Partner of the Global Democratic Alliance

Tsai Ing-wen, President of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

She gave a measured and effective account of China’s threat to freedom in Taiwan. She called for
more recognition and support of Taiwan by free nations around the world.

“Neither threats nor coercion will shake our resolve to engage the world. Taiwan and its people
stand ready to strengthen cooperation with democracies in Europe and across the world in any area
where we share mutual interests.

Our embrace of democracy is at the heart of who we are. Imperfect though it may be, democracy
has become a non-negotiable part of our identity.
– President Tsai Ing-wen

‘Trading with the enemy’? Russia Sanctions and Business Responsibility

Wolfgang Niedermark, Member of the Executive Board, The Federation of German Industries (BDI) was particularly impressive in this panel, recounting how German businesses have been doing all they can to cut free from business with Russia, independent of any government directives.

Building an Alliance of Democracies - an Economic Article 5 to Counter Authoritarian Coercion

Anders Fogh Rasmussen with Ivo H. Daalder, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and host of World Review with Ivo Daalder

This was a discussion of a new treaty between democracies involving an economic ‘article 5’, similar
to article 5 in the NATO Treaty guaranteeing mutual support in the event of armed attack from outside. The economic version would guarantee mutual support to member states under economic attack, such as China’s economic aggression against Lithuania over their recognition of Taiwan.

Ivo Daalder was a leading advocate, with James Lindsay, of the idea of uniting the democracies into a ‘Concert of Democracies’ some twenty years ago now.

Defending and Strengthening Democracy: View from Washington

Robert Berschinski, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy and Human Rights, White House National Security Council

I think it was here that Jeanne Meserve asked the pointed question, what did the administration think of President Macron’s statement that we should not ‘humiliate’ Vladimir Putin. She let him off answering that after he had squirmed a bit ..

US leadership and Making an Alliance of Democracies a Reality

Mark Warner, Member of the United States Senate

Mark Warner discussed the retreat from global leadership of the democracies and NATO under Donald Trump, but claimed the US was ready and able to resume that role under Biden.

Town Hall Event with the Obama Foundation

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

Barack Obama was the major celebrity to appear at the event in person. I must admit, I found his presentation a little disappointing – it could have bee made a year ago, and didn’t address the current crisis at all. He discussed the requirements for true democracy, emphasizing in particular the Robert Berschinski, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy and Human Rights, White House National Security Council Mark Warner discussed the retreat from global leadership of the democracies and NATO under Donald Trump, but claimed the US was ready and able to resume that role under Biden. Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States need for equal rights for all, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and so on. He seemed to be addressing recent problems in the US in particular. 

Afterwards he held a discussion with three young people supported by the Obama Foundation, who did indeed have impressive achievements to their credit.




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