Bulgarian President at AUBG: We All Must Take Initiative!

Domestic | November 14, 2013, Thursday // 11:32|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev (r) and the President of AUBG, Michael Easton (l), photo by Igor Myakotin, AUBG

More than 400 students, teachers and citizens attended the lecture of Bulgaria's President Rosen Plevneliev at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG).

The President visited the school in the southwestern city of Blagoevgrad Wednesday to speak to students about "A Better Future: Who Needs to Take the Initiative?"

Giving the rescue of Bulgarian Jews during World War II as an example Plevneliev stressed on the importance of an active civil Society.  "In 2013 the Bulgarian civil society returned back on the stage by organizing a wave of spontaneous protests and demanding a change. The people pointed out the problems of how the economy and democracy works."

According to the President, there is an institutional crisis in Bulgaria that is still not overcome after 24 years of Transition. The government is dependent on oligarchic structures; there is lack of transparency in big governmental projects; the judiciary system is not independent and effective enough; the media are dependent, their ownership is concentrated and they often twist the truth; healthcare is of poor quality; young people are leaving the country.

The civil society poses the question of whether the politicians are ready to change, the president said. According to him there is a historical chance for the society to reach out to politicians so that they can change. On the other hand there is possibility for historical shame- if the politicians let the public energy get wasted, discourage the young people even more and make them leave the country.

People are not interested in ratings of politicians but are interested in solutions of existing problems, Plevneliev said. "Solving these problems will take time, but is not that difficult," he said. According to him, the problem with low income can be solved through reforms that allow competitiveness and better business environment that attracts more investments; supporting small and medium enterprises can tackle unemployment; introducing e-government can solve the problem with corruption and e-health reform can solve the problem with healthcare.

"It really depends on each of us to insist that the institutions and governments show the true history of the Balkans as it was," Plevneliev said. The political leaders should find the courage to open the secret services archives from communist time and send them to the State Archive. According to the President, after 25 years these documents should no longer be a secret and people should have access to them. "We don't need a mediator between us and the truth. We don't need half truths. This is what strengthens or destroys people's trust."

"We do not trust superheroes and populists anymore." Instead, people should trust democratic institutions and active civil society, Plevneliev said. "But who needs to take the initiative? The right answer is: We all!" With these words, he concluded his speech.

The lecture was followed by a Q and A session. During it, one of the students raised the issue with the ongoing student protests. "Politicians, not only in Bulgaria but all over the world, should not be afraid of young people who protest," Plevneliev said. "They should be very much afraid if young people stay in the pubs, drink and talk about the bloody politicians." The politicians in every country should be very happy if the young people have an opinion and are ready to fight for it, the president stated. The head of state urged politicians to listen to the public demands.

The entire lecture was delivered in English as was the Q&A session.

The article was written for Novinite.com by Dimana Doneva, student at AUBG and former Novinite intern.

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Tags: president, Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, AUBG, the American University in Bulgaria, lecture, government, corruption, protests, secret services, problems, civil society, students, initiative


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