Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski speaks at the launch of the secretariat of the EED. Photo: EPA/Julien Warnend
The foundation, which aims to support those struggling for democracy on the fringes of the EU, was a flagship concept of Poland's six-month presidency of the EU Council (2011).
The EED's secretariat is based in the former Polish embassy in Brussels, and it's first executive director is erstwhile Polish deputy foreign minister Jerzy Pomianowski.
Sikorski put forward the idea in January 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring and the crushing of dissent in Belarus's December 2010 presidential election.
“I have immense satisfaction that something that was a Polish idea is today a reality,” Sikorski said at yesterday's opening ceremony, as cited by Polish Radio.
“It's a way of paying off our debts for the help you gave us in the seventies and eighties,” he added, alluding to help given to dissenters in communist Poland by countries west of the Iron Curtain.
Although an independent private foundation, the EEC is the joint creation of EU member states and institutions.
The EED will provide material and ideological support to pro-democracy activists and organisations, ranging from NGOs to independent media outlets and even lone bloggers.
The budget of the foundation in the first three years will be 25 million euro.
The largest contributions to the budget have been declared by Poland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
During his Brussels visit, Sikorski also took part in the EU's Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
Ministers failed to find a united policy on the embargo on dispatching arms to Syrian insurgents, although Britain and France are now technically free to do so.
“The situation is extremely difficult. We do not know what the consequences of arming the Syrian opposition could be,” Sikorski concluded. (nh)
Source: IAR, msz.gov.pl