Speech by Anders Fogh Rasmussen


Opening Remarks at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2018

Speech by Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Chairman of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation 
Copenhagen Democracy Summit
Copenhagen, Denmark
Friday, June 22, 2018

Good morning,

On behalf of the Alliance of Democracies, thank you for joining us in Copenhagen for our first Democracy Summit.

I am grateful to all of you for taking the time. And I trust that you will also have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful city.

Today gives us an opportunity to recommit to principles that we often take for granted; freedom, democracy, open markets and open societies.

For too long, we have assumed that these values are unquestionable.

And, like Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, we have – for too long – refused to see the naked truth.

The truth is that democracy is in decline in every region of the world.

It is ironic that citizens living in democratic societies have never been so free, so empowered, so peaceful, and offered so many opportunities; and yet many of these same people no longer feel that our democratic systems serve them well.

As lovers of freedom and democracy, we must ask what is going wrong, and how do we fix this dangerous disconnect.

After my introduction this morning, one of the conference's partners, Dalia Research, will present the first Democracy Perception Index. The results show how democracy faces a crisis of legitimacy, while non-democratic regimes are instilling public confidence in the hearts and minds of their citizens.

Meanwhile, autocratic and undemocratic states are successfully weaponizing our free societies. They spread fear and confusion and turn our freedom into a strategic weakness when it should be our strongest asset.

Later this morning we will hear from the 47th Vice-President of the United States. But for now, let me quote the 1st Vice-President, John Adams. He said this:

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.”

Today we are here to prove John Adams wrong; to ensure that our freedom and democracies are never allowed to waste.

We are here because we want to make democracy great again.

But let us not underestimate the scale of that challenge.

The foundation of our international rules-based order is under threat from forces within and without. The transatlantic alliance has been called into question. The multilateral trading system is on the edge. And our elections are at risk of meddling and foul play.

It does not have to be this way.

We can reverse the decline in the democratic world's pre-eminence; but it requires an alliance of democratic states to unite in this common endeavor.

The sustained economic growth, higher living standards, and relative peace of the last 70 years did not happen by accident. They were the by-product of a world whose architecture was constructed out of the ashes of war.

The world’s democracies built a new multilateral world order, led American Presidents such as Truman, Kennedy and Reagan were not afraid to show determined global leadership. They understood that these exhaustive efforts in turn made America great.

These Presidents had seen how the US decided to walk on the other side of the road as Europe burnt. But bad guys don’t stay in their neighbourhood. Eventually they bring the fight to you. And the cost of defeating them is high.

America is living testimony to the power of human freedom. For centuries, freedom-loving people from all over the world have been drawn to America.

I count both my great-grandfather and my son among these immigrants. I am the proud grandfather of three American citizens. Because of these personal bonds, I visit America often. Every time I visit, I am impressed by the energy, drive, and moral character of the American people.

Today, I want to appeal to that classic American moral character; the character that drove generation after generation of Americans to free the world from tyranny.

A world without American leadership would be a less free and less democratic world. But America should not have to carry the burdens of leadership alone. The other democracies in the world have an equally important duty to assist in the defense of the free world. We, too, must not shrink from our moral duties.

We have formed the Alliance of Democracies Foundation to call on the world’s democracies to face up to their responsibilities. As the Korean War Memorial in Washington reminds us: “Freedom is not free.”

We will work to make this project a reality, to build a robust alliance that unites thinkers from politics, business, media and civil society to discuss the future of trade and democracy.

Let us not forget that we are all here today because we believe in democracy and we want to see it succeed.

The Alliance of Democracies Foundation will work to support this cause through several projects.

We will discuss the role of expeditionary economics to support entrepreneurship and help stabilise post-conflict areas. Supporting democracy through economic growth.

Our Campaign for Democracy will seek to build a robust eco- system and a worldwide intellectual movement for democracy.

And we will take action to tackle the menace of election meddling.

Yesterday, we held the first meeting of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, which I co-chair alongside former US Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.

The premise is simple: between now and the next US Presidential election, there will be over 20 elections in EU, NATO and Western countries, including the US Mid Terms and European elections.

We know that Russia has been interfering in votes on both sides of the Atlantic. We can be certain that they will try again; and others may seek to copy their playbook.

So, we must work across the Atlantic now, and we must close the gaps in our policy response.

This is why we have assembled a group with a wealth of experience in politics, business, tech and media. The group will make recommendations, sound the alarm, and raise awareness of both the challenges and the solutions to be developed.

But we must tackle election integrity in a manner that maintains the free elections and free speech that we all cherish.

The Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity will tackle the external threat to our democracy. But only we can tackle the internal threats and stem the decline in support for our democratic institutions.

So today, let us discuss how we can reconnect with voters sceptical about how democracy serves them.

Let us develop new solutions, let us renew the foundations of our democracies, and let us build an Alliance of Democracies that will endure and deliver for its people, for many generations to come.

Thank you.