News and Notes

Issue Date January 2015
Volume 26
Issue 1
Page Numbers 204-208
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Forum 2000 Conference

On October 12–15, the eighteenth Forum 2000 conference took place in Prague and other central European cities. Inspired by Václav Havel, this annual conference brings together leading experts and activists from around the world to examine key democracy-related topics. The 2014 event was organized around the theme “Democracy and Its Discontents: A Quarter-Century After the Iron Curtain and Tiananmen.”

The conference featured a keynote address by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former political prisoner in Russia, who spoke on the challenges of achieving democratic reform. Among the numerous panels were two sponsored by NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies: “Is Democracy in Decline? Reflections from the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the Euromaidan,” with panelists Marc F. Plattner, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Tarek Osman, Yoani Sánchez, and Yevhen Hlibovytsky; and “Resurgent Authoritarians: The World Movement Against Democracy,” which included panelists Yang Jianli, Dmitry Muratov, Kenan Aliyev, and Christopher Walker.

Another panel, entitled “The Significance of Václav Havel’s Value-Based Foreign Policy,” featured John Shattuck, Ales Bialiatski, Yoani Sánchez, Andrew Schapiro, Lobsang Sangay, and Carl Gershman. Panel summaries, videos, and transcripts of major speeches are available at

Does Democracy Matter?

On October 20, the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Project on Democratic Transitions and the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute cosponsored a conference entitled “Does Democracy Matter?” The event featured panels on the effectiveness of democracy promotion and presented ideas for improving efforts to encourage democratic transitions.

Ambassador Adrian Basora, director of the Project on Democratic Transitions, delivered welcoming remarks. The opening session of the [End Page 204] conference featured presentations by Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; Thomas O. Melia, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Nikolas Gvosdev, Naval War College; and Barak Hoffman, World Bank Group. The second panel—moderated by Christian Caryl of Foreign Policy’s Democracy Lab—included remarks by Sarah Bush, Foreign Policy Research Institute and Temple University; Tsveta Petrova, Harriman Institute, Columbia University; Michal Kořan, Prague Institute of International Relations; and Melinda Haring, Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Azerbaijani Political Prisoners Honored

On September 29, Azerbaijani human-rights defender Anar Mammadli received the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for his dedicated service to civil society and defense of human rights. Mammadli previously led an independent election-monitoring NGO and served as an advisor to the rapporteur of PACE on the issue of political prisoners. In May 2014, as Azerbaijan assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, he was arrested and sentenced to more than five years in prison following his critical assessment of Azerbaijan’s October 2013 presidential election.

On October 23, imprisoned human-rights activist Leyla Yunus won Poland’s eleventh Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize. Yunus was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was one of three final-ists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Prior to her imprisonment, Yunus served as director of the Institute of Peace and Democracy, where she worked to help citizens affected by forced evictions in Baku, organizing several protests on their behalf. In July 2014, Yunus and her husband Arif were arrested on politically motivated charges of spying for Armenia and tax evasion.

On November 13, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s 2014 Sakharov Freedom Award—which honors people showing exceptional courage—was presented collectively to political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Eleventh Annual Lipset Lecture

On October 29, Lilia Shevtsova, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, delivered the eleventh annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Her talk was entitled “Russia’s Political System: The Drama of Decay.” She also delivered the lecture on October 20 at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. An article based on her lecture appears above on pp. 171–82. [End Page 205]

Poland’s Future Challenges

On December 9, NED’s International Forum partnered with the embassy of Poland to host a half-day conference on “Poland’s Future Challenges and The Legacy of Jan Nowak-Jeziorański.” Nowak, a hero of the Polish underground during World War II, later served as head of the Polish section of Radio Free Europe and a consultant to the U.S. National Security Council during the Carter and Reagan administrations.

NED president Carl Gershman and Ryszard Schnepf, ambassador of Poland to the United States, offered welcoming remarks. The keynote address on “The Enduring Relevance of Jan Nowak-Jeziorański” was delivered by Zbigniew Brzezinski. This was followed by a session on new threats to security and democracy in Europe, moderated by NED vice-president Nadia Diuk. Panelists included Daniel Fried, former U.S. ambassador to Poland; Paula Dobriansky, World Affairs Councils of America; Peter Pomerantsev, author and TV producer; and Andrew Nagorski, author and chair of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Andrzej Siezieniewski, president and CEO of Polish Radio, gave concluding remarks.

Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In early November, events were held around the world to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. A series of events in Berlin culminated with the release of 8,000 illuminated helium balloons tracing the course of the Wall that once divided the city.

The commemorations in Washington included a session organized by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) on November 6 entitled “The Legacy of ‘89: Uniting Germany.” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius moderated the panel, which featured remarks by former U.S. deputy secretary of state Robert B. Zoellick and former German diplomat Frank Elbe, who both played key roles in negotiating German reunification.

On November 12, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation hosted a panel discussion in Washington entitled “25 Years after the Fall of the Wall: Personal Accounts.” Professor Hope M. Harrison of George Washington University gave opening remarks. The panel featured presentations by journalist Catarina Bannier; Torsten Herbst, secretary-general of the FDP Saxony; and Hans H. Stein, director of the International Political Dialogue.

Celebrating the Legacy of Václav Havel

On November 20, the National Endowment for Democracy, in partnership with the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C., hosted a half-day conference entitled “25 Years After the Velvet Revolution: The Continuing Struggle for a Europe Whole and Free.” This event coincided with the unveiling of a bust of Václav Havel [End Page 206] in the U.S. Capitol to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

NED president Carl Gershman moderated the opening session, which featured former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Karel von Schwarzenberg, former minister of foreign affairs of the Czech Republic. The second panel addressed “Ukraine and the Future of Democracy in Europe,” with remarks by Martin Palouš (Václav Havel Library); Jackson Diehl (Washington Post); Nadia Diuk (NED); Leon Wieseltier (New Republic); and Jacques Rupnik (Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques).

The third panel, on cross-border work by NGOs, featured Šimon Pánek (People in Need Foundation); Jakup Klepal (Forum 2000); Rodger Potocki and Ivana Cvetkovic Bajrovic (NED); Rosa María Payá (Cuba’s Christian Democratic Movement); and Jiří Kozák (CEVRO – Liberal Conservative Academy).

NDI and IRI Award Dinners

On September 9, at the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) annual freedom dinner and award ceremony, Ukrainian pop star Rus-lana accepted IRI’s 2014 Freedom Award on behalf of the men and women of Ukraine’s Maidan movement. IRI also paid tribute to President George H.W. Bush, who had been formally presented with the Institute’s 2014 Freedom Award on May 19. Senator John McCain (chairman of IRI’s board of directors) was presented with the Order of the Defense of the Euromaidan award in recognition of his support for Ukraine’s struggle for democracy and human rights. The event also included a tribute to Rich Williamson, vice chair of the IRI board until his death in 2013. For further information, visit the press center at

At its annual democracy-award dinner on December 9, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) honored three Ukrainian activists—Hanna Hopko, Sergii Leshchenko, and Oleksandr Solontay. The theme of the dinner was “From Protest to Politics: Honoring Ukraine’s New Democrats” and remarks were delivered by U.S. vice-president Joe Biden and NDI chairman Madeleine Albright. All three honorees were recognized for the key roles that they played in Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests. All three ran as candidates in Ukraine’s October 26 parliamentary elections, and Hopko and Leshchenko each won a seat in the new parliament. Further information about the event, including a very impressive short video about the honorees, can be found at

NED’s International Forum

The Forum continued its initiative on “The Authoritarian Resurgence” with a discussion on October 22 examining the emergence of authoritarian-backed “pseudo election monitors.” Patrick Merloe of the National Democratic Institute gave [End Page 207] an opening presentation, and Judith Kelley of Duke University served as a commentator. As part of this series, the Forum hosted a session on December 10 on authoritarian influence on the Internet. Ron Deibert of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto provided an opening presentation, and Larry Diamond, coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, served as commentator.

On September 22, the Forum organized an event entitled “Saudi Arabia: Opposing Democracy at Home and Abroad.” The panelists included Bernard Haykel of Princeton University, author Karen Elliott House, and Jean-François Seznec of Georgetown University.

On October 6, the Forum hosted a discussion on “The Governance Agenda and Democratic Development” featuring Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at Stanford University. Fukuyama spoke on aspects of his new book, Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy.

On October 30, the Forum organized a session entitled “Is Democracy Possible in Russia?” The panelists included Lilia Shevtsova (nonresident senior fellow at Brookings), Leon Aron (AEI), and Denis Volkov of Moscow’s Levada Center. Leonid Gozman, president of Russia’s Union of Right Forces, offered comments.

On November 13, the Forum held an event entitled “The Menace of Unreality: How the Kremlin Weaponizes Information, Culture, and Money.” The panel, moderated by Freedom House’s David Kramer, featured Michael Weiss, editor-in-chief of the Interpreter; journalist and author Peter Pomerantsev; and Hannah Thoburn of the Foreign Policy Initiative.

The Forum also organized several events featuring Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows. On September 23, Marino Cordoba, founding president of the Bogota-based National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES), delivered a presentation entitled “From Internal Displacement to Inclusive Democracy: The Afro-Colombian Experience.” Zakiya Carr Johnson, director of the U.S. State Department’s Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit, offered comments. On December 11, exiled constitutional scholar and legal advocate Cu Huy Ha Vu (Vietnam) gave a talk entitled “Implementing Human Rights as a Path to Democracy in Vietnam.” Scholar Zachary Abuza offered comments. On December 16, human-rights lawyer N’yella Rogers (Sierra Leone) delivered a presentation on “Ebola’s Impact on Women and Children in Sierra Leone: Why Accountability Matters.” Kamissa Camara of NED served as commentator.

In October, the Forum welcomed a new group of Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows: Maliha AlShehab (Saudi Arabia), Zin Mar Aung (Burma), Umed Babakhanov (Tajikistan), Altay Goyushov (Azerbaijan), Arthur Gwagwa (Zimbabwe/United Kingdom), N’yella Rogers (Sierra Leone), Negaso Solan (Ethiopia), and Cu Huy Ha Vu (Vietnam). Also arriving in October was visiting fellow Leonid Gozman (Russia). This group will be in residence through February 2015. [End Page 208]