Aki Hadid - It had been long since it was expected that the EU could have a bigger influence on international politics. The European Union is an example of democracy and good governance that should be shared with the rest of the world. As the EU is about to help Yemen promote democracy in peaceful ways, it shows the world a good example of foreign policy.
• There were doubts as to how 27 member states of the European Union could agree on a common foreign policy. They failed to agree on Iraq, and have limited influence in sensitive conflict zones such as the Middle East or Africa.
• What led to the economic and political success of the European Union is its strong democratic values. Why not help other countries achieve democracy.
• According to the Yemen News Agency (Saba News), Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh talked with EU commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner on May 6. The discussion was about the EU helping Yemen reform its electoral system and support its democratic reform.
• Yemen has a strategic position in the Middle East as it is located at the entry of the Red Sea where several cargo ships circulate from the Mediterranean sea to Asia, mostly European ships, as well as ships from around the world. Although Yemen is no rogue state, terrorist activities took place on its territory as in the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 in the harbor of Aden. It is also located near war torn Somalia and can contribute to peace in the region. Therefore democratization and good governance in Yemen could be examples to follow in the region, that is the Middle East as well as East Africa. And it is a good sign that it turned to the European Union for advice, as more countries could be seeking advice for democratization from the European Union, therefore the EU would be an example of promoting democracy in other regions through peaceful means.
The benefits of promoting democracy abroad
Several political analysts agree that democratic countries never fight against each other and that peace can be achieved if all countries complete a successful democratic transition.
• Five decades ago, out of 130 UN member states, 90 were dictatorships. Today, the proportion of democratic states has shifted to a majority. Europe would gain a lot from exchange with other countries, and its mission therefore should be to prevent other nations from having totalitarian governments or extremists ruling countries, since Europe has experienced the limits of democracy in the 1930s, as well as totalitarianism, yet has successfully achieved democracy.
• Sharing that experience could prevent countries from engaging into destructive wars or internal conflicts, since other countries would be aware of the atrocities that happened in Europe during the two world wars. Democracy is also beneficial for Europe’s foreign trade, since rulers from other countries can have more honest deals and transactions with Europe, as more transparency is guaranteed. Either way up until today, many think of the EU as politically weak around the world.
• Yet promoting democracy in Yemen could be a sign of the EU taking over the United States as the future hegemonic power, with greater, more peaceful influence on world affairs. In order to do so, the European Union must unite and agree on its internal policies. That means that European countries must agree to give up more of its sovereignty to the European Union, which would include adopting a European constitution. A stronger European Union could certainly be beneficial to pacifying and democratizing the world.
Seoul (South Korea)