11 November, 2005
The United States welcome Greece's decision to contribute financially to the establishment of the "Foundation for the Future", which is the next step in the imitative for the wider Middle East to strengthen democracy and advance reforms in the region, US assistant secretary of state for European Affairs Daniel Fried said on Wednesday.
Replying to questions at the Foreign Press Centre in Washington, Fried expressed Washington's appreciation for the Greek government's move, adding that Greece would take part in the upcoming meeting of the initiative's protagonists, which would be held in Bahrain.
"Greece is among the countries which, although not a member of the G-8, support the reforms in the region," Fried said.
To a relevant question, he added that if Cyprus also desired to contribute to the initiative, it was welcome to do so.
The second annual "Forum for the Future", a ministerial gathering focusing on political reform and involving countries from the Middle East, North Africa and the G-8 leading industrialized countries, will take place in Manama, Bahrain, on November 11 and 12, hosted by the governments of Bahrain and the UK, the current G-8 president. The first Forum was held in Rabat, Morocco, in December 2004.
The Forum for the Future is a cooperative effort by the countries of the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) region, the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, and other partners who seek to promote and develop political, economic, and social reform in the region.
The Forum serves as a venue for regional civil society and business groups to express their reform goals and ideas to their governments. Its agenda seeks to advance the universal values of human dignity, democracy, economic opportunity, and social justice.
Foreign ministers from across the BMENA region, the G8 and other partner countries will work to further reform in the areas of democracy, civil society and education. They will be joined by representatives of civil society organizations who carried out the vigorous agenda set in Rabat focused on transparency of governance, women in the workplace, legal reform and human rights.
Two programs expected to come out of the Bahrain meeting were a Foundation for the Future to promote freedom and democracy and a Fund for the Future to provide money for small and medium businesses and spur economic growth.
The "Foundation for the Future" would underwrite democratization projects, including support for independent media, while the companion "Fund for the Future" would back economic reform in the region, focusing on financing for job-creating small and medium-sized enterprises.
Source: Athens News Agency