To mark the International Day of Democracy, International Herald Tribune and Kathimerini newspapers convened, in cooperation with UNDEF, the "Athens Forum 2013: Democracy under Pressure" in the Ancient Agora of Athens -- the birthplace of democracy. The event, which can be watched in its entirety here, was part of the Herald Tribune's The Global Conversation series of high-level debates and panel discussions on key global challenges. Panellists included ministers from India and Sweden, two of UNDEF's top donors.
The discussion examined the state of democracy in the world and the pressure resulting from economic, social and religious factors. Participants included Antonis Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece; Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor of Athens; Carl Bildt, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs and "the best connected world leader", according to a new study of Twitter; Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development of India, the world's largest democracy; New York Times columnist Roger Cohen; Masha Gessen, Russian-US journalist author; Sultan Al-Qassemi, leading blogger and voice on the Arab Spring; and Annika Savill, UNDEF Deputy Executive Head.
As Ban Ki-moon said in his message to the 16 September Forum, the meeting place in the Agora reminds us that the practice of democracy is not a spectator sport and that it is more like a marathon than a sprint.