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Democracy

Opinion: West should celebrate with Egypt, but follow up with deeds

The resignation of Hosni Mubarak was overdue and is a moment of joy for Europeans and Americans, says Bernd Riegert. Now it’s time that we follow our words up with deeds.

Egypt is finally free! That's what demonstrators are shouting in Cairo and across Egypt. The revolution succeeded. The autocratic ruler has been washed away by a tidal wave called democracy. We are witnessing history in the making. This is a moving moment that evokes the cataclysms in Europe back in 1989.

Hosni Mubarak recognized that he didn't have any chance anymore to moderate the necessary transition to real democracy in Egypt. He should have stepped down already on Thursday, now he has done so after a 24 hour delay. The joy of the Egyptian people is stunning and contagious.

But the interesting questions now are: What will happen in Egypt? Will the military that Mubarak charged with leading the country create a credible path for the transition to real democracy? We all hope and wish that this great experiment will succeed. Europe and the United States now must make good on their word and offer every possible assistance, political or financial, to build democracy in Egypt.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton already declared last weekend that the European Union was ready to support democratic processes. Now she needs to hop into the next available plane and follow up her words with deeds if the new Egyptian leadership calls for it. But it will be important not to create the impression that Europe or the US hope to profit from this transition time in Egypt. This is a victory for the Egyptians and it should stay that way.

However, behind the scenes Europe and the US should use their influence - if they have any - so that the situation in the region remains relatively stable and the revolution doesn't negatively affect the Egyptian peace deal with Israel that was signed by former President Mubarak. It would be appropriate for Europe's foreign ministers to convene a special meeting on Monday in Brussels to discuss the events in Egypt.

Whether the spark of democracy spreads to other states will be crucial for the stability in North Africa and the Middle East. At the moment we can only watch in amazement and with sympathy and hope that this historic revolution remains a peaceful one.

Author: Bernd Riegert (mik)
Editor: Susan Houlton

DW.DE