Democracy Must Be Defended on Daily Basis, Bulgarian President Tells PACE

Diplomacy | January 26, 2016, Tuesday // 21:22|  views

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev delivers his speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, 26 January 2016. Photo EPA/BGNES

Democracy in Europe cannot be taken for granted and has to be defended on a daily basis, Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev said on Tuesday.

"Contrary to the expectations in 1989 that the building of a ‘true democracy’ would require just a few years, Bulgarian citizens today realize that the creation of democratic institutions and the adoption of European legislation is not enough," Plevneliev said in an address to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg.

Bulgaria assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in November 2015 and will host its next session in May 2016.

"We will make every effort and rely on the support of European parliaments and governments to achieve the objectives that we have set within the Bulgarian presidency, " Plevneliev said.

The violation of the rule of law, the pursuit of selfish interests as opposed to international principles, the creation of frozen conflicts, terrorism, migration and chauvinism are the main challenges facing Europe at present, Plevneliev said in his address.

The "record number" of crises in Europe cannot be be "bequeathed" to future generations; they require specific solutions and actions, the Bulgarian head of state noted in his address.

"We must act. Mistakes can be corrected but inaction cannot be an alternative as it creates a grey zone of instability and illegitimacy,” Plevneliev said.

Plevneliev told PACE that since it joined the Council of Europe in 1992, Bulgaria has come a long way.

"Thanks to the Council of Europe’s guidance in the years of transition, we managed to establish a modern democratic state where human rights and the rule of law are held high.” 

“The engine of European integration brought dramatic and positive change, including a developing economy. Over the years, Bulgaria has become a pillar of stability and an important factor in the Balkans, working to deepen regional cooperation,” Plevneliev added.

“The recent reforms undertaken by the government in the fields of education, security and justice are a proof that we are acting in a responsible way and achieving sustainable results,” he said.

Talking about the challenges to be addressed, he pointed out in particular the need of efficient mechanisms to guarantee the rule of law and the need of an early crises detection system and a proative approach.

“We should not wait for weapons and crises to appear on our TV screens, in order to act,” he said.

Referring to the current migration crisis in Europe, Plevneliev said that Bulgaria was following the rules of the Dublin Regulation and the Schengen Agreement.

“Closing our doors to those fleeing for their lives is not an option. We show solidarity with all refugees and give humanitarian status to those that meet the criteria,” he said.

Pleneliev also highlighetd the need to address the roots of the global threats of terrorism and violent extremism, not just their consequences.

Social exclusion, inequality, lack of access to basic human rights, unemployment and lack of prospects are the factors which fuel hatred and lead to radicalisation.

“We can prevent the radicalisation of marginalised groups within our own societies only through education and integration,” he said.

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Tags: Bulgaria, PACE, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, terrorism, radicalisation, rule of law, crisis detection, transition, democracy, Migration


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