Summit for Democracy: Belgian declaration

The Belgian declaration, pronounced by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, during the Leaders’ Plenary Session of the Summit for Democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The importance of President Biden’s initiative can hardly be overstated. For the simple reason that after the iron curtain came down, we were lulled into a false sense of security.

We thought that - with the fall of the Berlin wall - democracy would come easy and natural to every nation. We had forgotten that has never been the case. We had forgotten that liberal democracy is not the easiest answer to our current challenges. But it is the right one. For the simple reason that it means ‘all of us deciding together’ on where we are headed.

Liberal democracy is not about having “a strong leader”. It is about “strong leadership”. And it is my deep conviction that strong leadership is based on diversity and inclusion. Liberal democracy is as much about protecting minorities, protecting diversity, as it is about the power of the majority.

It is this fine balance that makes it a quest, a never-ending battle. It is a system based on seeking compromise and consensus, a system that gives nuanced answers to complex issues. It is also what makes democracy fragile.

Democracy’s biggest enemies are simplicity and black-and-white thinking. That is why in Belgium we are standing up for this complex, nuanced democratic model. By creating a new ministerial portfolio charged with “Democratic Renewal." By launching an online participative platform on the modernisation of the democratic principles in our State structure, and organizing citizen panels, notably on the Conference on the Future of Europe. By expanding our « transparency register » to have a better view of the external actors influencing our administration.

In the world, Belgium is committed to a positive narrative on democracy, rule of law and human rights, and the benefits they bring to our citizens in Europe and beyond; 3 years ago Belgium launched a Fiduciary Fund of the Council of Europe on the rule of law, which has been supporting important work on fight against corruption, protection of journalism, of women and children’s rights, and many others. We are currently selecting new projects to finance.

Belgium is also very committed to the protection of human rights, their universal character, and their defenders. My country is a candidate for a new mandate within the UN Human Rights Council (2023-25). And I can announce that Belgium is increasing its core funding to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by 25%.

Together, let’s feed trust.

Trust of people in the system and trust of people in each other.

Everyone’s voice must be heard.

I thank you.