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Пиянството на един народ

24/06/2016 Leave a comment


Резултатът от британския референдум е факт и ще има последици за цяла Европа и света. Финансовата криза, която започна през последните часове е само началото. Днес не е достатъчно обаче Европа да повтаря само как ще бъдем силни като сме заедно. Това са излишни заклинания. Британците трябва са започнат процедурата по напускане на ЕС, но всички останали трябва много ясно да си дадем сметка какво става с нас и около нас. През последните години либералната демокрация и свободния пазар бяха поставени под атака от диктатори, националисти и популсти. Тяхната алтернатива е цинична, тя не решава нито един проблем. Много се поддадоха на изкушението да търсят лесен изход, да обявяват либерализма за мъртъв, да хвърлят вината на ЕС, а де не я виждат в себе си. Включително и у нас. Крайно време е да се изправим и да защититим либерланите ценности на личната и икономическа свобода, от нашествието на популизъм и цинизъм. Това означава реформа и на собствените ни институции, включително и на европейските. А не само приказки как сме по силни като сме заедно… Англия, не Велкобритания, избра да живее с миналото. Тъжно, но това е тяхно право. Нямаме право да повтаряме тази грешка нито в България, нито в Европа.

9 май или 9 май…

09/05/2013 Leave a comment
EU and candidates

EU and candidates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Тази сутрин с учудване забелязах, че сред някои в обществото ни продължава да витае някакво двоумение относно какво точно отбелязваме на 9 май? Отговорът е един — това е Денят на Европа, защото на 9 май 1950, тогавашният френския министър на външните работи Robert Schuman прави своята историческа декларация, която полага основите на Европейския съюз и прави войната в Европа невъзможна. В Русия обаче честват Деня на победата. Въпреки че Германия подписва акта на безусловна капитулация през съюзниците още на 7 май 1945, руските представители на церемонията не са опълномощени и искат повторна подписване на 8 май 1945 в Берлин. Когато  това се случва в Москва вече е 9 май… Реално Втората световна война приключва с капитулацията на Япония на 2 септември 1945.

За България 9 май е Денят на Европа. За Русия това е денят на победата. За мен причините са ясни и неоспорими. Ако България не беше въвлечена на страната на нацистка Германия (безспорно най-позорното решение на цар Борис III и неговото правителство) и ако в последствие България не беше окупирана от Съветската армия и нейните комунистически агенти, то страната ни вероятно щеше да бъде сред инициаторите на обединена Европа. Още през 1927 проф. Иван Шишманов е сред учредителите на Пан-европейското движение във Виена. Ако се още по-назад във времето, след Освобождението в България се заражда мощно политическо и обществено движение, което работи за модернизацията на страната ни и връщането й в лоното на “свободните европейски народи”. Целият този път е прекъснат от цар Борис III, последвалите обществени сътресения и най-вече от съветската окупация и комунистическия режим.

Повече от половин век по-късно страната ни става част от Европейския съюз. Съюз, който днес е модерно да бъде оплюван не само у нас. Благодарение на него обаче на европейския континент израснаха поколения, които не знаят какво е война. Едва сега, когато Европа е в ръцете на тежка икономическа криза, устоите на Съюза започват да се поставят под въпрос и много хора удобно забравят, че предния път, когато Европа изпада в подобна криза, това води до Първата световна война. Сценарий, който днес за нашия континент изглежда невъзможен поради икономическата, правна и институционална обвързаност на страните-членки. Странно е, че в България — най-новата страна-членка на ЕС, се намират хора, които пригласят на тези модерни евро-критикари. Не само пригласят, но и дават своя “принос към дебата” — понеже сме най-бедните трябвало да ни дават най-много пари… Като че ли забравиха как преди години всичките ни “европейски пари” бяха спрени, защото местни бабаити предпочетоха да си купуват с тях поршета вместо трактори и земеделски машини. Тезата за вечната онеправданост на българина, комуто всеки “голям” иска да направи нещо лошо е жалка и смешна. Тя обаче е много удобна, защото винаги завършва  с логиката “нищо не зависи от мен, всичко зависи от другите”. “Другите” са обикновено големи, богати и “имат интереси”. Не това е темата на разсъждението ми днес обаче.

България гордо трябва да чества 9 май като деня на Европа, защото България е част от културното, историческо и политическо пространство на Европа. Днешният ден е добър повод да си спомним откъде тръгнахме през 1989 като общество и през какво минахме. Добре е да се замислим за загубено време в спорове за герба (да има или да няма корона), в дебати (за или против приватизацията и частната собственост), в чудене (искаме или не искаме да бъдем в НАТО), в крадене (масова приватизация, ЗУНКове, батко и братко и др.), в реформи (ще правим или не здравна реформа, ще модернизираме или не съдебната система), отново в чудене дали сме в криза или не (през 2008 Станишев и Орешарски твърдяха че кризата била на “богатите” държави) и т.н.

Преходът на България за последните 20 години ни най-малко не беше лесен. Напротив. Беше кошмарно труден! Но не заради “другите”, а заради нас самите и цялото лутане, което сами си причинихме. Всичко това докато Европа се обединяваше, развиваше, строеше инфраструктура (физическа и научна), в общи линии вървеше напред. Не че във Франция, Германия или Великобритания не са имали проблеми. Напротив — имат и са имали огромни социални проблеми. Но са ги решавали в рамките на Европа, в рамките на законодателството на ЕС и не са се чудили що за празник е 9 май.

В Русия 9 май е Ден на победата над нацистка Германия. Безспорно това е и моментът, в който трябва да отдадем почит на всички загинали в годините на Втората световна война. Без значение каква е националността им. Може би и да си помислим за всички, които в момента по света стават жертви на войни и конфликти. През 90те години братоубийствената война беше буквално до нашата граница – в тогавашна Югославия. Сега е другата страна на съседна Турция – в Сирия, където диктатурата на Асад разрушава системно цялата държава. Може би обаче е и момент в който да си дадем сметка, че за нас в България руският “ден на победата” никога няма да бъде “нашия” празник. Защото през 1944 нацистката окупация е заместена от съветска окупация, комунистически преврат и 50 годишно “отклонение” от Европа. Затова нека оставим руснаците да честват техния девети май, а ние да честваме нашия.

И да не забравяме, че когато на 8 май нацистка Германия капитулира, в България е все 8 май… Ние сме в Европа и няма какво да се чудим повече.

Innovation and growth are key to economic revival in Europe

16/04/2012 Leave a comment

As we meet in London today, the European economy remains weak. Growth has stalled across the continent. Unemployment is high. After several years of crisis, our citizens and businesses are still uncertain whether the future offers prosperity or stagnation. William Hague and I outlined some ideas on how to bring growth back into the European economy and published them in The Telegraph. This is how it looks when you see it from Sofia and London…

As well as responding to the immediate debt crises, we believe that Europe must focus more on growth. We outline here a programme of reforms which Europe needs to undertake to remain competitive and confident.

Neither of our countries is in the euro, but it is in our national interest that the currency should succeed. We have a major stake in a stable and growing eurozone. A large share of our exports goes to this area and its volatility has a chilling effect on both economies.

As well as the fiscal compact, markets must be assured that the eurozone firewall is big enough; that Europe’s banks are being adequately recapitalised; and that the problems in countries like Greece have been properly dealt with.

At national level, the UK and Bulgaria are working hard to address the problem of government debt. We have put forward an aggressive set of plans to get our economies back on their feet. We are reforming our welfare and pension systems, restraining public sector pay, and streamlining our public administrations.

By taking bold decisions, we have shown it is possible to earn credibility in international markets.
Beneath the surface of the recent crises is a bigger and more important challenge for Europe. A fundamental shift in the global balance of economic power is under way – from West to East and from North to South.

This is about competitiveness. The European Commission’s 2012 Annual Growth Survey observed that “long before the current crisis, overall EU performance has been weaker than key competitors”.
The only long-term solution is to encourage and promote growth. In our meeting in London we are discussing a number of ways to do this: extending the single market, promoting free trade, reducing red tape and using the EU’s budget to promote innovation and competitiveness.

First, to complete the single market we must widen its remit to focus on the digital economy, on energy, low carbon development, defence, and further liberalisation of the services sector. One of the reasons major companies invest in Bulgaria and the UK is because they want access to the single market. But in some crucial areas, internal trade is still obstructed.

The single market has not kept up with the shift to services and changes in technology. Further liberalisation of services and the creation of a digital single market could bring over €800bn (£660bn) to the European economy.

Second, promoting free trade. The EU has had a good track record of promoting international trade but we must do more. We’d like to make 2012 the year of EU trade deals, by concluding negotiations with India, Canada and Singapore, launching negotiations with Japan by the summer, and injecting momentum into EU-US economic integration.

The deals currently on the table could add €90bn to EU GDP. Above all, we must reject the temptation to seek self-defeating protectionism in trade relations.

Third, reducing the burdens on businesses. The average cost of starting a business is higher in the EU than in our major competitors. It costs €644 to set up a business in the US compared with €2,285 in the EU. Big businesses say EU regulation is having a negative effect too.

We have made some advances in Europe on reducing regulatory burdens for small businesses. This is a step in the right direction, but we will push for a more ambitious EU programme to reduce overall burdens, specific measures to help small businesses and new sectoral targets to benefit industry.

Fourth, Europe needs to focus more on innovation and infrastructure for a modern economy. Connecting Europe’s energy grids is one milestone. In addition, we should make EU research and investment funds more flexible and simpler to use.

As President Rosen Plevneliev of Bulgaria said in his inauguration speech, innovation is at the heart of growth. Europe must create the best environment for entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their ideas into commercial projects, and thus create jobs.

Finally, we wish to stress the transformational power of EU enlargement. The process of accession has helped to entrench democracy, the rule of law and human rights across the continent. It has also increased investor confidence. We believe membership of the EU should be open to any European country that wants to join and meets the rigorous accession criteria.

Seven Steps to Boost the Arab Awakening

01/04/2012 Leave a comment

When a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a small town’s public square, barely anyone expected this act to lead to a revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and the Arab world. The fall of the three dictatorships initiated a new phase in a worldwide democratic wave that has been remaking the world since 1989.

Commentators of the “Arab Awakening” are tempted to draw a parallel between recent events in the Middle East and Northern Africa and those in Central and Eastern Europe of twenty years ago. The integration of the latter to two of the most democratically recognized international organizations–NATO and the EU–have led Western decision makers to believe they know the “recipe” for successful transition. However, the mechanic “copy-paste” of ideas and solutions should be approached with caution.

Back in 1990, the European Union responded to the young democracies by opening up and offering the prospect of membership to all who came in from the cold. This was the driving force for changes in Central and Eastern Europe over the next 20 years. Back then this happened because of visionary European leaders.

For many reasons, mainly immigration waves and the rise of xenophobic parties, the international community lacks the magnitude of such vision today. The danger of falling in weightlessness is real. The countries in transition need visionary leaders to be inspired to continue with the changes to achieve prosperity.

Seven crucial steps can assist in reaching this.

First, there should be a close association with the European Union. The EU should provide enhanced association status of all countries that subscribe to its values, linking this to easier movement of goods (tough but not impossible), institution building and extended cooperation between universities/students. This will create an attractive package for the ever-growing young Arab constituency.

Second, Central and Eastern Europe has much to offer. It has learnt the lessons of transition, of do’s and don’ts, of moving from dictatorship to democracy. How to deal with transitional justice? How to handle constitutional reform? What comes first – political or economic reform? How to fight corruption? How to establish civilian control over the armed forces? This resource should not be wasted.

Third, Arab countries should remind themselves of their common roots, rather than pointing out differences. Europe is a great example of integration. The Arab world should likewise kick start the process of an Arab-League-that-turns-to-Arab-Union. That would certainly be bold, but is worth exploring. Surely such a Union should be based on an integrated market, but also on shared values of a representative democracy and human rights.

Fourth, the role of European political leaders has to be reconsidered. They should reach out to religious parties in the region and not cringe from them. Yes, these groups are all very different. It is nevertheless important to be engaged and to work with those who are more moderate.
Fifth, the EU should finally set up a “European Endowment for Democracy”. The project can work at arms-length from governments and help build both sustainable political parties and civil society across democratically aspiring Middle Eastern countries.

Sixth, the Council of Europe should have a proactive approach vis-à-vis these countries. It should not only sign agreements, but should instead offer a form of membership to those countries in the Middle East and North Africa, willing to subscribe to the common values of the Council of Europe. The organization has high legal standards and criteria, offering protection of human rights, minorities, and media freedom. The countries that join the Council are to provide the same set of rights to their citizens.

Seventh, NATO can have an important role by sharing its experience in developing civilian security and defense expertise. Arab countries coming out of dictatorships lack such experts and knowledge. In the long run if they don’t work on civil-military relations and civilian control over the armed forces, they are in for many problems. And so are we.
It is in our collective interest to be out there driving the debate and putting the assistance programs together today, not when it is too late.

As published by the Atlantic Council

Nickolay E. Mladenov is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Hristiana Grozdanova is a member of the Atlantic Council’s Young Atlanticist Working Group.

Седем стъпки в помощ на младите арабски демокрации

01/04/2012 Leave a comment

Текстът е публикуван в сайта на Атлантическия съвет и econ.bg

Когато тунизийски продавач на плодове се подпали на площада в един малък град, едва ли някой очакваше това да доведе до революция в Тунис, Египет, Либия и целия Арабски свят. С падането на трите диктатури започна нова фаза в световната демократична вълна, която прекроява света от 1989 г. насам.

Коментаторите на “арабското пробуждане” се изкушават да направят паралел между последните събития в Близкия изток и Северна Африка с тези в Централна и Източна Европа (ЦИЕ) отпреди двадесет години. Интеграцията на страните от ЦИЕ в НАТО и Европейския съюз (ЕС) накара западните политици да повярват, че знаят “рецептата” за успешен преход. Към механичното “копи-пейст”-ване на идеи и решения обаче трябва да се подхожда с повишено внимание.

Още през 1990 г. Европейският съюз отговори на младите демокрации, като се “отвори” към тях и им предложи перспектива за членство.Това бе движещата сила за промените в Централна и Източна Европа през последвалите 20 години. Тогава това се случи заради европейските лидери, които бяха визионери, утописти, мечтатели.

По много причини, главно заради имиграционните вълни и възхода на ксенофобските партии, международната общност вече не разполага с тази визия. Опасността от изпадане в безтегловност е реална. Страните в преход имат нужда от лидери, за да бъдат вдъхновени да промените, които да им донесат просперитет.

Седем важни стъпки могат да помогнат това да се случи.

Първо, трябва да има тясно сътрудничество с Европейския съюз. ЕС трябва да осигури статут на асоциирани членки на всички страни, които които споделят неговите ценности. Това може да се свърже лесно с движението на стоки, институционалното изграждане и разширяване на сътрудничеството между университетите и студентите.

Второ, страните от Централна и Източна Европа могат да предложат много опит. Тези страни са научили уроците на прехода, на това, което трябва, и това, което не трябва да се прави, на преминаването от диктатура към демокрация. Как да се справят страните с правосъдието по време на прехода? Как да се справят с конституционната реформа? Кое е първостепенно – политическата или икономическата реформа? Как да се борят с корупцията? Как да се установи граждански контрол над въоръжените сили? Този ресурс не трябва да се губи.

Трето, арабските страни трябва да припомнят общите си корени, вместо да изтъкват разликите по между си. Европа е един чудесен пример за интеграция. По същия начин и арабският свят трябва да започне процесът по превръщане на Арабската лига в Арабски съюз Това със сигурност би било смела и дръзка постъпка, но си заслужава да се проучат възможностите за предприемането й. Със сигурност такъв съюз трябва да се основава на интегрирания пазар, но също така и на споделените ценности на представителната демокрация и на човешките права.

Четвърто, трябва да се преразгледа ролята на европейските политически лидери. Те трябва да достигнат до религиозните партии в региона и да не бягат от тях. Да, тези групи са много различни. Въпреки това е важно да бъдат ангажирани и да работят с тези, които са по-умерени.

Пето, ЕС трябва най-накрая да създаде “Европейска фондация за демокрация”. Проектът може да работи при равнопоставеност на правителствата и да подпомогне изграждането както на устойчиви политически партии, така и на гражданско общество сред страните от Близкия Изток, които се стремят към демокрация.

Шесто, Съветът на Европа трябва да има проактивен подход по отношение на тези страни. Съветът трябва не само да подписва споразумения, но да предложи форма на членство на тези страни в Близкия Изток и Северна Африка, желаещи да се присъединят към общите ценности на Съвета на Европа. Организацията има високи правни стандарти и критерии, като предлага защита на човешките права, малцинствата и свободата на медиите. Страните, които се присъединят към Съвета, ще трябва да предоставят същия набор от права и на своите граждани.

Седмо, НАТО може да има важна роля, като споделя опита си в развитието на гражданската сигурност и отбраната. Арабските страни, преминаващи от диктатура към демокрация, не разполагат с такива експерти и знания. В дългосрочен план, ако те не работят за развитието на гражданско-военните отношения и гражданския контрол върху въоръжените сили, то тези страни ще имат сериозни проблеми. Както и ние.

От наш взаимен интерес е да стимулираме дебата и въвеждането на програми за подпомагане на тези страни днес, а не когато вече ще бъде късно.

Статия на Николай Младенов, външен министър на Република България, и Християна Грозданова, член на Младежката атлантическа работна група към Аталантическия съвет.

Sarajevo 2014

27/07/2011 Leave a comment

The European Parliament has called on the EU to award the title of European Capital of Culture exceptionally to Sarajevo in 2014

In May the European parliament adopted a resolution, which calls upon the Council and the Commission to award the title of European Capital of Culture, exceptionally, to Sarajevo in 2014 when we will commemorate one hundred years since the terrible events in Sarajevo that plunged Europe in the Great Wars of the 20th century.

Back in 1914 the founding fathers of European unity — Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, were in their late twenties, while Paul Henri Spaak was just 15. He would later spend 2 years in a prison camp during the “war to end all wars”… Their common dream of a united Europe, founded on shared values and interdependence, can easily be traced back to that summer day in Sarajevo. The European Union’s commitment to the Western Balkans today stems from our shared historic responsibility to make war impossible in the Balkans.

I believe that it is in Sarajevo in the summer of 2014 that Europe should demonstrate that a new European century has arrived. This is why I have written to all EU Foreign Ministers and the European Commission to support the idea of awarding the title of a European Capital of Culture, exceptionally, also to Sarajevo in 2014.

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Our Commitment to Multilateralism

28/09/2010 Leave a comment
All nations must put a strengthened NPT at the centre of its national diplomacy

Every year we come together in this great chamber of the United Nations, to reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism. Nations big and small, rich and poor, from the four corners of the world gather at the United Nations driven by the conviction that if we work together we will find solutions to the challenges of today and tomorrow. And as these challenges grow and become more interconnected, so grows our conviction that only through cooperation and dialogue can we resolve them.

This is the fundamental belief with which for over 55 years the Bulgarian delegation, like many others, has come to the United Nations.

Like every day, today will be unique. Because our actions on this day will forge our tomorrows. We can spend our time dwelling on the past, or we can invest our time in the future that we will face together.

Today our world faces a complicated web of challenges, but also of opportunities:

The challenge of addressing global climate change by creating opportunities for sustainable development.

The challenge of reducing conflicts and the opportunities that come from providing sufficient clean water to millions of people.

The challenge of developing an ethical market economy and countless opportunities that will emerge from reducing the poverty gap.

The challenge of reducing ethnic conflicts, terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction; and the opportunities that come from good governance, democracy and freedom.

And perhaps addressing the most paramount challenge of our time – to prove wrong all those who believe that the world is heading for an irresolvable clash of civilizations.

Because none of the global challenges that we face today can be understood, tackled or addressed without respect for different opinions, without dialogue between faiths, and without adherence to the global values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

On behalf of the Government of Bulgaria, I congratulate H.E. Mr Deiss on the assumption of the Presidency of this 65th session of the General Assembly and by our full confidence in Mr. Deiss’ stewardship of this Assembly’s deliberations during the next twelve months.

Our appreciation also goes to H.E. Dr. Ali Treki for his able leadership during the previous session and to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his unfailing efforts to strengthen and promote the United Nations Organization.

Let me begin by welcoming the results of the high level plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Regardless of the fact that the achievement of the MDGs remains off-track, their attainment is still within our reach. Reaffirming the principle of solidarity between those who have and those who need is of the essence.

My country – like most today – faces challenges imposed by the global economic and financial crisis. We have committed to develop our own donor capacity and so we shall. Because Bulgaria – like a number of countries that have joined the European Union since the fall of the Berlin Wall – understands that the solidarity which was extended to us, now needs to be extended by us to those less fortunate.

To be effective we shall work in close coordination with our partners, avoid duplication and aim at addressing the root causes – not the symptoms – of today’s problems. Otherwise we will not be building a better tomorrow. In this effort the role of the United Nations shall always remain vitally important, particularly in helping mitigate the development impact of the crisis on the leas developed and most venerable countries.

As dangerous as the current global crisis is, it also gives us a chance to “green” our economies by putting them on a sustainable and low-carbon path. 2010 has been proclaimed as the International Year of Biodiversity. Economic growth and the preservation of the environment must go hand-in-hand across the globe.

Today there can be no excuses, not in developed countries, not in developing countries. Because any excuse that we find today will cost us more tomorrow. That is why Bulgaria believes that the United Nations must be given the tools to adequately respond to the increasing challenges of environmental preservation.

Today, much more than in the past, we see increased demand and pressure on international humanitarian efforts. The devastating earthquake in Haiti last year killed hundreds of thousands, left a staggering 20% of the population homeless and crippled the economy of one of the world’s poorest countries. Haiti’s call however was heeded throughout the globe.

Allow me to praise the work of the United Nations and its agencies in responding quickly, but also pay tribute to all countries, NGOs and individuals who came quickly to its assistance. The Bulgarian government and people were quick to respond by providing financial and in-kind assistance, including educational opportunities to young Haitians whose universities had been destroyed.

This year we have to help in the struggle of 20 million people in Pakistan who’ve been affected by the terrible floods that have wrecked lives, ruined crops and destroyed economic opportunity.

The Secretary General and the UN were swift to react and deserve praise for their efforts. As does the rapid reaction of the European Union, the United States and other partners throughout the world.

Allow me to use this forum to call on all to strengthen their efforts in assisting the people in Pakistan in tackling the humanitarian crisis of the floods.

But I also call on governments across the globe to help in removing barriers that can assist the Pakistani economy in its recovery the in the medium term. Helping today and creating opportunities tomorrow – that should be our goal in a country that is vital to global stability and security.

In this, let me assure you that Bulgaria – small as it is – will also shoulder its share of the needed solidarity. Already the Government and the Bulgarian Red Cross have launched a nation-wide campaign to raise funds and contribute to the rebuilding efforts.

No matter how successful we are in our development and humanitarian efforts, the cannot fully bear fruit in an insecure and unstable environment. Allow me to briefly look closer to home – the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The European Union was created to make war impossible in a continent that has seen at least a century of conflicts. In Europe, however we have unfinished business. Europe shall not be whole and complete until our neighbours in the Balkans are not part of our Union.

It falls on us – those who joined the EU late, not by their own choice, but because of the ideological divisions of the Cold War – to say it loud and clear: to make war impossible in the Balkans we must see all countries that have emerged from former Yugoslavia be part of the European Union. This is our historic mission. Its our destiny.

Bulgaria, which has struggled with its own transition and accession to the EU, knows the benefits and the challenges best. This is why today I am proud to stand here and commend the United Nations for unanimously approving the joint EU-Serbia resolution on the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Declaration of Independence by Kosovo.

Bulgaria supported it wholeheartedly because we firmly believe that dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is key both to the stability of the region but also to their European perspective. It will be a difficult process, charged with emotion and scarred by history.

But it will be a process that today can lay the foundations of a better tomorrow for all. This is a process that the Bulgarian government is not just willing, but eager to support, and will lend all assistance necessary to the efforts of the EU High Representative on Foreign Policy that she needs to succeed.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina the international community faces many challenges. But the struggle between the fears of yesterday and the opportunities of tomorrow can be resolved today by the people of Bosnia themselves.

Bulgaria will more than actively than ever contribute to reconciliation. Because we believe that our role in South East Europe and beyond is to bring people together, not divide them; to seek solutions, not watch from the sidelines.

We must constantly reaffirm our European commitment to bring in our neighbours in the Western Balkans into Europe, when they meet the criteria for membership. Our neighbours also must reaffirm their own commitment to undertaking often very difficult reforms, and to strengthening regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations.

There are cynics who say that the world cannot live together, that for peace to exist we must build walls of separation between peoples, religions and ethnic communities; that civilizations must clash.

I come from a country that is in a turbulent part of the world, yet has managed to prove that people of different religions – Christians, Muslims and Jews; of different ethnicities – Bulgarians, Turks and Armenians can live together. Bulgaria has seen stellar moments in its history, for example when civil society rose during the Second World War and refused to allow its Jewish population to be sent to concentration camps; or when it integrated its Turkish population after the end of communism.

But it has also seen its dark moments – when it failed to save the Jewish populations of the occupied Northern Greece and Vardar Macedonia; or when the Communist regime expelled a large part of our Muslim citizens to Turkey. Our history has taught is to be able to make the difference between good and bad. Our history proves that the cynics were wrong, that people can live together in peace.

That is why Bulgaria cannot remain uninterested in the Middle East. We believe that just as the Jewish people have a homeland in the State of Israel, so the Palestinian people have the right to an independent state of Palestine that lives in peace with its neighbours.

During the last months we have all witnessed the efforts of the US administration to restart the direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Many of us have made passionate speeches of the need and urgency of peace.

Today the Palestinian and Israeli leaders face the historic challenge of looking to tomorrow and not being tied down by yesterday. The Middle East cannot afford a failed peace process. The world cannot afford a process that does not have the end goal in sight.

Today we must all recognize that hard decisions are in the making and lend our full support to President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to be able to walk the hard road to peace. Obstacles should be overcome and preconditions should be removed.

If the leaders of Palestine believe that settlement policy is an obstacle to peace, the leaders of Israel must refrain from such activities. To give peace a chance.

If the leaders of Israel believe that no preconditions to a final settlement should be put in place, then the Palestinian leaders must refrain from such actions. To give peace a chance.

The choice today is not between peace negotiations and economic development, because peace and prosperity go hand in hand. No one should feel singled out or left behind.

Because the enemies of peace are many – those who feel that walls are safer than bridges; those who feel that religions cannot coexist. Because you can kill a man’s life, but you cannot kill their faith or dignity.

This is why I call on all of the United Nations of the world to stand firmly behind the efforts of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to achieve peace. In doing this we must recognize the legitimate concerns of both sides – Israel’s security and the viability of a Palestinian state.

In this effort we must not forget the 1.5 million people who live in Gaza – Palestinians who have the right to a better life. Just like the children of Sderot have the right to go to school without the threat or rockets.

We have an obligation to help open up access to Gaza without compromising the security of Israel. History has proven that isolation and deprivation breed radicalism and it is in the interest of peace that more opportunities be created.

It is not enough to have a vision, it is a must that we all work to support such a vision. This is why Bulgaria will stand in support of all efforts to achieve reconciliation and to advance negotiations.

Today the world faces other grave security challenges that will shape our tomorrow.

We must reconfirm our commitment to halting the spread of nuclear weapons. This mission is above politics and diplomacy, above national ambitions and personal egos. It is our universal obligation and a joint commitment which we undertook 40 years ago.

Bulgaria believes that every nation must put a strengthened Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the centre of its national diplomacy. The uncovering of clandestine nuclear networks has brought the spectre of non-state actors equipped with weapons of mass destruction closer. We must not allow this to continue.

All nations must recognize that the nuclear non-proliferation regime is undermined if violators are allowed to act with impunity. We consider all States Parties, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), to be bound by their NPT obligations.

Leaving the NPT cannot be without consequences.

Justified concerns about the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran remain. We call on Iran to deploy the necessary confidence building measures to provide for a greater transparency of its nuclear activities. Bulgaria believes that it is important to find a diplomatic solution.

The recent attempt by Turkey and Brazil illustrate that there is will in the international community for dialogue. Therefore a swift return to the negotiation table and full compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions, as well as IAEA standards and safeguards is a must.

International terrorism is one of the most serious contemporary threats to global peace and security. It cannot be vindicated by any political, philosophic, ideological, racial or ethnic considerations, or by any other ideology.

The end-goal of terrorism is to hinder our efforts to guarantee human rights, basic freedoms and democracy. Within the framework of the European Union, Bulgaria has fully endorsed the implementation of the United Nations Global Strategy to Counter Terrorism. I appeals for a prompt finalization of the negotiations to reach a Comprehensive Convention to Counter Terrorism.

An old nefarious practice on the High Seas – piracy – has been resurrected and added to the already long list of today’s security risks. Bulgaria is being directly affected by the escalating activity and audacity of the pirates in the Gulf of Aden and off the Coast of Somalia. This fight against piracy leaves much to be desired:

We need a firm international legal framework for the trial, detention and imprisonment of persons suspected of having committed acts of piracy.

We need coordinated actions in the High Seas to protect our shipping.

Perhaps most of all we need to address the root causes of piracy – poverty, isolation and lack of opportunity.

In Afghanistan we face a threat that demands a continued military and civilian commitment of the international community that hinges on two important factors.

The ability of the Afghan Government to pave the way for reconciliation, tackle corruption and deliver services to its people; and

The renewed commitment of the international community and the regional neighbours to strengthen the Afghan National Army and Police, while maintaining the pressure on radicals and insurgents and limiting their scope of action.

In these tasks the coordinated efforts of all, but foremost the UN, NATO and the European Union, are vital. I would like to strongly support the work that UNAMA and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Steffan de Mistura are doing.

Their efforts should be appreciated and fully supported by the international community. I want to also pay tribute to the brave men and women of all ISAF contributing nations, including the 600 odd Bulgarian troops who risk their lives to bring security to the people of Afghanistan.

Bulgaria’s commitment to the future of Afghanistan is unfaltering. Because we understand that it is our joint obligation to bring security to this tortured country whose people deserve to be able to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that many of us have.

Bulgaria has increased its input to ISAF, including through more training units that will work to build the capacity of the Afghan Security Forces. We contribute to the reinforced the EU Police Mission in Afghanistan, which, jointly with NATO’s Training Mission plays an important role. We support the Afghan Governmental Program for Peace and Reintegration in which the key role should be played by the Afghan State.

Our commitment to Afghanistan is because we firmly believe that if we succeed today we will live safer tomorrow.

A comprehensive security system can rest only on a robust partnership between UN and regional organizations. This is why Bulgaria believes that the partnership between the European Union with the United Nations is a strategic one. As the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton put it, “our commitment to the multilateral system of global governance through the UN and other bodies is clear; and we work with conviction and clarity on the major challenges that face us, be they climate change, poverty, conflict or terrorism”.

The transformation of the EU into a legal subject of international relations after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon has to be also adequately reflected in a resolution of the General Assembly regarding the representation of the EU at the United Nations.

In closing let me briefly touch on the reform of the UN. Bulgaria is convinced that if we are to effectively tackle the challenges of tomorrow, we must continuously adapt and improve the UN system. Therefore it is imperative that we continue the course of reforms, initiated by the 2005 World Summit.

We believe that the reform of the Security Council is part of the comprehensive agenda for change of the United Nations. Bulgaria declares itself in favour of an enlargement of the Security Council capable of generating a largest possible consensus. In this context Bulgaria has endorsed the enlargement of the Security Council in its two categories, i.e. permanent and non-permanent members.

As member of the Eastern European Regional Group, Bulgaria shall continue to uphold its position as to the need of allotting at least one additional non-permanent seat for a State representing the Group, especially given the fact that in recent years its membership has doubled.

I started by reiterating our firm commitment to multilateralism. The agenda of the United Nations is broad and diverse and I have attempted, on behalf of the Government of Bulgaria, to briefly touch just some of the issues that ought to be discussed in the forum.

Our commitment to multilateralism can only be equaled by our unfaltering belief that dialogue and diplomacy can achieve more than confrontation and war. More than half a century ago the United Nations came together and enshrined these principles as the cornerstones of international law.

Since then, with various degrees of success, we have attempted to live by them. It is time for us to realize that the global challenges of tomorrow can only be tackled by collective action today. Impossible is nothing, but only if we work together, discuss, disagree and agree but share a goal – a peaceful and prosperous world that is safe for all.