Belgium: EU calls Iraq referendum "great day for democracy"

The European Union paid tribute Sunday to Iraqis who braved insurgent threats to vote in the country's constitutional referendum, calling the vote "a great day for democracy."

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said Saturday's vote "was an important step to a future in which political differences will be settled in Iraq through democratic dialogue, and not through violence." She pledged continued EU support to efforts to build democratic institutions and bolster the Iraqi economy.

"It has been a great day for democracy in Iraq," Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement released late Saturday. "By voting, Iraqis have confirmed their commitment to democratic change."

The European Commission has been supporting the constitutional process in Iraq with a Ђ20 million (US$24 million) donation, some of which went to U.N. outreach work to prepare for the referendum.

Overall, the Commission has provided Ђ518 million (US$622 million) to Iraq since the end of 2003, AP reports.


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