11.14.2005

The Forum of the Future Watch

I previously illustrated my viewpoint of the Forum for the Future in principle. What the Forum for the Future has yielded – the two foundations-- are good but our primary problem is still the authoritarianism and somewhere the totalitarianism.

To reform the Middle East we have primarily to change the political system of the Middle East. This objective needs to be accomplished an international effort rests on the international standards which normally compiled by the international order. Considering the fact that the post-cold war international order is neither designed nor provided for this task.

Any change at the level of the international norms and conduct needs to be preceded with preliminary and justifying thought and discourse supported by the international powers, here, the international power. This process is what I think is under way in such international occasions like the Forum for the Future. Hence, I see the primary importance and effect of the Forum for the Future is at the international level as I explained.

The reform of the Middle East, in my view, has two pillars, the civil society in the Middle East and the international policies—the international relevant input. Without any of those, there is a mission impossible.

Here are some details:

(Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)

Rice Hails Expansion of Liberty in Middle East

Despite recent democratic gains in the past year throughout the Middle East, nations must improve, strengthen and expand their partnership for reform in this region, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"That is the mission of our Forum here today," Rice said November 12 in an address to the opening session of the second annual Forum for the Future in Manama, Bahrain. The forum brings together government and nongovernmental representatives from the countries of the broader Middle East and North Africa and the Group of Eight (G8) nations -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia. (See related article.)

The secretary cited recent accomplishments throughout the region such as the competitive elections in Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories as well as suffrage for Kuwaiti women.

"The Forum for the Future is helping to transform the Broader Middle East," Rice said, "It is our citizens who are making the great goal of democratic reform, once thought impossible in this region, now begin to seem inevitable."

In her remarks, Rice also condemned the November 9 bombings in Jordan, saying the attacks increase the urgency of "our work to have an answer to the ideologies of hatred that produce the kind of violence we saw in Jordan." (See related article.)

She also voiced support for Syrian democratic reformers and called for Damascus to end its "arbitrary detentions" of democratic and human rights activists. (See related article.)

For ongoing coverage of the 2005 Forum for the Future, see BMENA.

Following is the transcript of Rice's remarks:

(begin transcript)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(Manama, Bahrain)
For Immediate Release
November 12, 2005

REMARKS
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
At the Opening Session of the Forum for the Future
November 12, 2005
Manama, Bahrain

SECRETARY RICE: I would like to thank King Hamad, and our many generous hosts here in Bahrain, for welcoming us this beautiful country for the second annual meeting of the Forum for the Future. I would also like to thank the British government, for co-hosting this important event.

I'd like to start by noting again our common outrage at what was done in Jordan and our deep condolences to the government and people of Jordan, but also to note that there are other countries around this table who lost citizens there. It reminds us that while we sit here to talk about a future of reform, a future of hope, a future in which economic prosperity and political participation can be imagined for the people of this region that there are those who have quite another vision of what the region should look like, and I think it makes even more urgent our work to have an answer to the ideologies of hatred that produce the kind of violence that we saw in Jordan and that we have seen in many countries around this table.

A year and a half ago, at the G-8 Summit in Sea Island, the world's leading industrial nations pledged to support courageous men and women across the Broader Middle East and North Africa, who are demanding economic freedom, and democratic rights, and educational opportunity.

President Bush and his fellow heads of state heard the calls for change that are redefining this region. And to amplify these voices, they partnered with the governments of the Broader Middle East and members of civil society -- and created the Forum for the Future.

The Forum held its first meeting last year in Rabat. And since then, the entire world has witnessed a tremendous expansion of liberty in the Broader Middle East.

The long-suffering people of Iraq and Afghanistan have held unprecedented democratic elections -- not once but twice.

The Palestinian people have elected a leader who openly calls for peace with Israel. And if we can make progress on the roadmap, the establishment of a Palestinian state should be within our sites.

For the first time, Egypt's presidential election was a multiparty competition. Kuwaiti women have gained the right to vote. And one million citizens in Lebanon have demanded and won their independence from Syrian domination.

We have all seen that the human longing for justice is a force that is not easily denied.

And we continue to support the peoples of Syria in their aspirations for liberty, democracy, and justice. We would like to see an end to the arbitrary detentions of democratic and human rights activists there -- including Kamal Labwani and all the prisoners of conscience from the Damascus Spring.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have worked too hard and come too far as partners to rest content with these initial gains. The goals of democracy are not realized with one demonstration or a single election.

Democracy only achieves lasting success when the rule of law is sanctified, when the media is free, when government is transparent and accountable to its people, when independent courts ensure justice in society, when civilians control the military, and when all citizens have equal opportunities to succeed.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the United States, of all countries, knows that the road to democracy is hard and that it is uneven. In my own country, the full right to vote for citizens was only ensured a little over 40 years ago. And so we say with humility, not with arrogance, that democracy is worth having, even if it is difficult to achieve.

We must improve, and strengthen, and expand our partnership for reform in this region. That is the mission of our Forum here today.

Last year, we had only five representatives of civil society in Rabat. Today we have over 40 men and women from civil society representing hundreds more who are working for change in their countries. And today, they will present their recommendations on reform to governments in this region on sensitive but urgent reform issues -- from women's empowerment and civil liberties, to anti-corruption and the rule of law.

My friends, today we reaffirm our fundamental support for certain basic democratic principles -- like liberty and justice, dignity and human rights -- which transcend all differences of culture, race, and religion, and unite us all in a spirit of mutual respect and shared determination.

The Forum for the Future is helping to transform the Broader Middle East. But it is all of you, through the impatience for the blessings of freedom and prospects of a better life, who are making that transformation real among citizens. It is our citizens who are making the great goal of democratic reform, once thought impossible in this region, now begin to seem inevitable.

I want to thank all of those who are here for the hope and hard work that is represented. And I look forward to the rest of today's meeting, Mr. Minister.

(end transcript)
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Forum for the Future Promotes Democracy, Job Creation

New institutions provide funding for civil society, entrepreneurs

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Manama, Bahrain – Leaders from Europe, the United States and the Arab world announced November 12 the establishment of two new institutions under the auspices of the Forum for the Future to support democratic reform efforts and economic growth in the broader Middle East and North Africa.

The Forum for the Future, founded in 2004, is a joint initiative between the countries of the broader Middle East and North Africa and the Group of Eight (G8) nations. It provides an opportunity for members of governments, civil society and the private sector to discuss political and economic reforms aimed at promoting greater freedom, democracy and economic growth in the Middle East region. (See related article, fact sheet.)

The G8 nations include Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia. However, several other European countries have joined the Forum for the Future initiative and are contributing capital to the two new projects: the Foundation for the Future and the Fund for the Future.

THE FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE

According to Yemeni democracy advocate Ezzedin Alasbahi, the purpose of the $54 million Foundation for the Future is to support civil society groups as they work “to achieve the common goals of promoting the values of human rights and democracy, in order to fulfill the aspirations of the people for human development, for liberty and for freedom.”

The foundation will provide grants and technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions and professional associations working to promote democratic reforms and civic awareness.

Alasbahi said the creation of the foundation is the culmination of numerous gatherings of civil society groups in the region over the past two years and called it “an important milestone” in the journey towards greater involvement of civil society in the political reform process.

Jordanian Minister of Planning Suhair al-Ali underscored the importance of these nongovernmental forces in forging good government policy. “We need to listen to your voices and to your needs regarding developmental areas in each of our countries and in the process of reform, both economic and political,” she said.

She said she expects the foundation to be an important tool for promoting freedom and democracy in the region. Jordan will host the initial preparatory meeting for the foundation in December, and leaders hope that it will be operational by early 2006.

Although a site has not yet been selected for the headquarters of the foundation, Qatar, which has pledged $10 million to the initiative, has offered to host the organization.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the foundation’s focus on the ideas and ideals of “indigenous reformers” as the most effective basis for democratic development.

THE FUND FOR THE FUTURE

Rice also hailed the second new initiative, the Fund for the Future, saying, “For democracy to achieve lasting and sustainable success, it must also be nurtured by a vibrant economy and an ever-growing middle class.”

The $100 million Fund for the Future will provide equity investments and technical assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises in the region in an effort to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

Rice said that the region will have to create as many 100 million jobs over the next 10 years in order to provide economic opportunities to its growing population.

The fund will focus its initial operations on Egypt and Morocco, each of which has contributed $20 million to the startup capital, but Rice said it will ultimately be available to “all states that choose the path of economic liberty and reform.”

The fund is modeled on enterprise funds that the United States established in the newly democratic countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the 1990s.

Egyptian Minister of Investment Mahmoud Mohieldin said the fund “brings hope to our societies.” He added that the governance standards of the fund will help instill an appreciation for transparency, accountability, workers’ rights and respect for the environment within the business community.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa echoed Mohieldin’s belief that the fund will improve the business environment in his country and stated his hope “that our enterprises will take advantage of this genuine instrument to promote growth, generate job creation and stimulate growth, investment and innovation.”

Mohieldin also expressed his hope that the economic developments stimulated by the fund will be mirrored by developments within the political arena because “political and economic reforms are highly interrelated and jointly needed to achieve economic growth and prosperity.”

The two new institutions will be governed by private-sector boards of directors chaired by representatives from the broader Middle East region. They will operate independently of the participating countries’ governments.

To date, financial supporters of the Foundation for the Future include Bahrain, Denmark, the European Commission, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Jordan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Qatar, Yemen, the United Kingdom and the United States. Supporters of the Fund for the Future include Egypt, Morocco, Denmark, the United States and Bahrain.
---------------------------------

REMARKS

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
At the Announcement of the Fund/Foundation for the Future
November 12, 2005
Manama, Bahrain

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister al-Khalifa. Thank you to Bahrain for hosting this wonderful meeting.

I too am very pleased that we are here to announce the Foundation for the Future that looks to indigenous reformers to draw upon their ideas and their ideals to nurture grassroots organizations that support the development of democracy. The Foundation will provide grants to help civil society strengthen the rule of law, to protect basic civil liberties, and ensure greater opportunity for health and education.

But most importantly, the Foundation is a sign that citizens have to be trusted who are working for democratic reform in particular countries, and cities, and villages to use their grant money for the greatest good that they see fit.

I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the Foundation as well as one individual who could not be here with us today, Shaika Mozza, the First Lady of Qatar, who has generously supported this Foundation. Thank you to her and the government of Qatar.

Today, we are also announcing a Fund for the Future.

For democracy to achieve lasting and sustainable success, it must also be nurtured by a vibrant economy and an ever-growing middle class.

In the Broader Middle East, some 50 to 100 million young people will enter the labor market over the next five to ten years. And it will be crucial for these men and women to find well-paying jobs to support themselves and their families.

The purpose of the Fund for the Future is to help businesses in the region -- especially small and medium-sized enterprises -- gain access to the capital they need to create good jobs and economic growth.

The Fund is a joint venture between governments and private sector, both from Western nations and those of the Broader Middle East -- and it will have its operational headquarters in this region.

The governments of Egypt, Morocco, Denmark, and the United States are the initial contributors to the Fund. Both the Egyptian and Moroccan governments have acted to increase economic freedom and opportunities for private sector growth in their countries.

So the Fund will target its initial investment efforts to empower small and medium-sized businesses in these two nations. But it will embrace all states that choose the path of economic liberty and reform.

Both the Foundation for the Future and the Fund for the Future are great multilateral efforts -- called for by the people of the Broader Middle East, and reflecting a new international consensus that greater democratic and economic reform is essential for this region.

All of us here today are eager to begin working with these two new institutions.

Now, I would like to ask the Egyptian Investment Minister Mohieldin to make his remarks.
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Civil Society Assumes Prominent Role at Forum for the Future

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Manama, Bahrain -- Members of civil society organizations are taking a prominent place at the table during the proceedings of the second annual Forum for the Future, which has brought together government and nongovernmental representatives from the countries of the broader Middle East and North Africa and the Group of Eight (G8) nations in Bahrain November 11 and 12.

Abdullah Abdul Latif, representing the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called the 2005 gathering unique in the history of the Middle East “because for the first time, you are able to bring the government to sit head-to-head with nongovernmental organizations to see what they would like to happen and to listen to their views, to ask them what are their wants.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried called it “remarkable” that representatives of civil society groups from across the Middle East and North Africa finally are sitting at the table with government officials to make recommendations about political, social and economic reforms they would like to see in their countries.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter said, “I think that this is a tremendous accomplishment because in it, there is a recognition that governments and civil society have something to learn from one another, that in partnership they can accomplish a great deal.”

The Forum for the Future was first proposed at the G8’s June 2004 Sea Island Summit in the American state of Georgia. Members of the G8 sought to create a forum in which they could provide technical and financial support to governments and nongovernmental organizations in the broader Middle East and North Africa who were working to achieve political, economic and social reforms in the region. (See related article, fact sheet.)

The G8 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia.

Morocco hosted the first gathering of the forum in December 2004. (See related article.)

TWO NEW FUNDS INTENDED TO SUPPORT NGOs, SMALL ENTERPRISES

Fried said that the recommendations of the civil society representatives have had a profound impact on the new initiatives emerging from this year’s forum. These include the establishment of two new funds designed to provide financial support to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and to small entrepreneurs in the region.

The new Foundation for the Future, which will provide grants to civil society groups, will be launched with $54 million in capital. The Fund for the Future, which will provide loans to small businesses in the region, has a target capitalization of $100 million.

King Mallory, the State Department’s senior adviser for Near Eastern affairs, stated the rationale behind the creation of the two new funds. “The future is about youth. It’s about 50 million young people entering the workforce in this part of the world in the next three or four years. It’s about 100 million people entering the workforce by 2013. And it’s precisely that future that we have in mind, and it’s precisely those young people that we have in mind,” he said. “And that is why we are creating this foundation, to provide them with opportunity, and we are creating this fund to provide them with an opportunity to shape their own future and have some hope for that future.”

The two funds will be managed by private sector boards of directors and headed by chairs from the broader Middle East and North Africa region. They will operate independently of the participating countries’ governments.

Officials expect the two funds to begin operations in the first quarter of 2006, with the fund for entrepreneurship development focusing its initial efforts on small enterprises in Egypt and Morocco. Those two countries have each contributed $20 million to that fund’s startup capital, and the United States has contributed $50 million. The United States has also contributed $35.5 million to the capital of the civil society-focused Foundation for the Future.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK NEEDED TO SUPPORT POLITICAL REFORMS

Deputy Assistant Secretary Carpenter said that the people of the broader Middle East and North Africa have high expectations for political reforms and that the governments of the region can help meet those expectations by creating a legal framework in which civil society groups can thrive.

“They expect their governments to be more responsive. They expect them to open up. They expect them to produce change so that people can find jobs and better education. It’s the same things that we all want, ” he said.

Carpenter also said governments have an interest in creating an environment that is conducive to the growth of civil society “because as it develops and as it thrives, so does the society. Everyone benefits.” He pointed to the example of the United States as a place where a “creative tension” exists between the government and civil society resulting in dynamic and productive interaction that is beneficial to everyone.

EDUCATION “IMPORTANT FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY”

A secondary focus of the 2005 forum is the development of educational systems in the region. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Alina Romanowski said, “I think we all share the realization that education is probably one of the most important foundations for democracy, for critical thinking, for a prosperous economy.”

She said that discussions at the forum have focused on how the countries of the G8 and the countries of the region can share experiences about their efforts to develop educational systems that provide students with the skills necessary to participate in the modern workforce. She added that private sector input would be crucial to continuing discussions as it is the business community that is in the best position to outline what it needs from the workforce.

Abdul Latif underscored the importance of the wide-ranging discussions taking place at the forum. He said, “In reform, we are discussing things that are of concern to everybody in the region, things like women’s empowerment, transparency and corruption, human rights, rule of law. These issues are things which our region needs to take care of.”

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