Leaders attending the Bali Democracy Forum pose for a group photo in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, on Thursday. They are from left in the first row, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Theo Chee Hean. (AP/Firdia Lisnawati)
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened on Thursday the fifth Bali Democracy Forum, saying that the forum had produced not only documents but also real action to promote democracy in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
He said the forum attracted participants from 40 countries and international organizations with three heads of states and governments at the first forum in 2008. This year, there are delegates from 80 countries and international organizations with 11 heads of state.
“I believe such growing participation shows that the Bali Democracy Forum is serving its purpose,” he told the forum in his opening remarks.
This year, the forum takes the theme “Advancing Democratic Principles in a Global Setting”. In its first year, the forum sounded the importance of building and consolidating democracy as a strategic agenda for Asia, while in its second year it forwarded the idea of promoting synergy between democracy and development in Asia with prospects for regional cooperation.
The third year introduced the idea as to how democracy could promote peace and stability, and in its fourth year, the forum sought to enhance democratic participation in a changing world by responding to the desires of the people.
Yudhoyono added that there was no one-size-fits-all model of democracy as it had to be based on each country's conditions.
The President is acting as the forum chair together with cochairs, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Gillard said the path to democracy was the best path for development and that Australia was a willing partner in working on the democratization path given its considerable experience.
She said that Australia, for example, had been among the first countries to grant women the right to vote, and actively supported electoral reforms in countries such as Afghanistan, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.
Together with the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), Gillard added, Australia was working with the emerging leaders in Egypt.
The institute, which is the implementing agency for programs adopted by the forum, launched a three-day workshop on Sunday on “Constitutional Reform and Constitution Building” involving Egyptian and Indonesian participants.
Heads of states and governments presented their views and opinions after the opening ceremony.
List of Heads of States or Governments:
1. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai
2. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
3. Brunei Darussalam Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
4. Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao
5. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
6. Nepal Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha
7. Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill
8. Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean
9. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
10. Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra
11. Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan