On Monday, 3 July, EED celebrated its 10th anniversary with an Open Session of our Board of Governors at the Egmont Palace in Brussels. The event gathered EED friends, partners, staff and supporters who helped us defend democracy over the past 10 years.
Moderated by David McAllister MEP, Chair of the EED Board of Governors, the Open Board saw interventions by Hadja Labib, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jan Knutsson, Swedish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs; Wojciech Gerwel, Undersecretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Jan Marian, Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.
President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola sent video messages to congratulate EED, while the President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu joined for a live video intervention in which she thanked EED for helping Moldovan civil society at a time of crisis and bringing activists together to fight corruption.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Center for Civil Liberties - one of the very first EED partners - delivered a moving speech remembering her friend, Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina, recently killed by a Russian missile attack. She also urged the EU to continue supporting Ukraine towards victory.
The event was also an opportunity to premiere our 10th anniversary video, which highlights EED’s story in the past ten years through the eyes of ten past and present EED partners from across the European Neighbourhood.
After the video was presented, Radosław Sikorski, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Maciej Popowski, former Deputy Secretary General of European External Action Service, and Ambassador Maria Ligor, founding member of EED Executive Committee, took the stage for a conversation on the circumstances that led to the establishment of EED.
The panel about EED’s origins was followed by a discussion with four EED partners, moderated by Pavol Demes, Founding member of EED Executive Committee. Alia Ibrahim of Daraj highlighted successes and challenges for journalists and independent media in Lebanon and the Middle East. Activist politician Nikola Dimitrov discussed the loss of hope in the Western Balkans towards democratic institutions. Toma Istomina from Kyiv Independent spoke about the hard work that journalists do to keep the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, after one year and a half of war. And Yaman Akdeniz of Freedom of Expression Association talked about the organisation’s work in providing legal assistance to those whose rights are being violated.
Finally, in the last panel of the day, EED Executive Committee member Lisbeth Pilegaard and Richard Youngs of Carnegie Europe discussed challenges for EED and the wider democracy support community in the future.