(Washington) Joe Biden invited about 110 countries and regions to his summit on virtual democracy in December, including key Western allies of the United States, as well as Taiwan in a clear message to China, which should cast a shadow over this meeting despite his absence. .
The US president has made no secret of it since his arrival at the White House in January: the struggle between democracies and “authoritarian regimes”, embodied in his eyes by China and Russia, is at the heart of his foreign policy.
One of the main pillars of this priority is the “Democracy Summit,” a campaign pledged for its first online edition on December 9-10 before a face-to-face meeting a year later.
But the list of invitees was not yet known. Posted Tuesday on the US State Department website, it was supposedly weighed by a catapult, and will be closely scrutinized.
It is not surprising, then, that Washington’s main opponents, led by Beijing and Moscow, are excluded.
On the other hand, President Biden called on Taiwan, which the United States does not recognize as an independent country, but voluntarily establishes a democratic model against China, which considers the island as one of its provinces, which has called for a return to its fold. Thus, its presence at the virtual summit should maintain the tensions that have flared up in recent weeks over the fate of Taipei.
India, often referred to as the “world’s greatest democracy”, will be present despite repeated criticism from human rights advocates for its Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. So does Pakistan, despite its volatile relationship with Washington.
Democracy is in decline
Turkey, Washington’s NATO ally but whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past been described by Joe Biden as a “tyrant,” is not among the participating countries either.
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited to this meeting. The traditional Arab allies of the Americans, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the UAE are absent.
Joe Biden also called for Brazil led by controversial far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
In Europe, Poland was represented, despite repeated tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.
On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the invited countries.
“There are good reasons for having a wide range of representatives: it allows for a better exchange of ideas,” Laleh Esfahani of the Open Society Foundation told the First Summit.
For her, rather than making it an anti-China meeting — “that would be a missed opportunity” — Joe Biden should take advantage of these meetings that will bring together leaders and civil society “to attack the crisis represented by the dangerous decline in democracy around the world, including the relatively solid models Like the United States.”
This summit is being organized at a time when democracy has suffered many setbacks in recent months in countries where the United States has pinned high hopes: Sudan and Burma, theatres of military coups, Ethiopia, prey to a conflict that could make it “collapse from within” according to American diplomacy, Or even Afghanistan, where the Taliban has regained power thanks to the US withdrawal after 20 years of democratization efforts.
The United States itself joined the list of “declining democracies” for the first time mainly due to the deterioration under Trump, according to a reference report from the intergovernmental organization IDEA.
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