Under the Patronage of
H.E. Tsetska TsachevaPresident of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria
and with special support of
Ministry of Defense
April 20th - 21st, 2011
Sofia, Central Military Club
The first day of the conference featured four panels. Distinguished speakers such as the president Zhelyu Zhelev, the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria H.E. James Warlick, H.E. Chun Bee-ho, Ambassador of South Korea to Bulgaria, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EU funds H.E. Meglena Plugtschieva, and the Chief of Staff of the Minister of foreign affairs H.E. Valeri Ratchev took part in the first panel entitled “Europe and the U.S. as global peacemakers”. The moderator of this panel was the journalist Georgi Koritarov. During his speech President Zhelev said that the future of the European Union was in its further enlargement and Turkey was an integral part of that process. He focused on the advantages, which Bulgaria’s neighboring country had. “The fact that Turkey is a Muslim country and at the same time a secular one, the fact that it unconditionally rejected the Sharia law and condemned the Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism shows that the country can play the role of a barrier at Europe’s threshold,” President Zhelev said. He believes that one day Russia may also become a member of the European Union. Within his speech the Ambassador of the United States to Bulgaria H.E. James Warlick congratulated the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria for its outstanding work in its 20 years of existence. He talked about the pivotal role, which Bulgaria is playing as part of the international community and gave many examples of its participation in peacekeeping missions around the globe. The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EU funds H.E. Meglena Plugtschieva said that the countries outside the European Union see the organization as an example, which has to be followed and as an unique model in every aspect - as a political, cultural and economic configuration. She also believes that in the future Bulgaria and Romania will play even more important role in the EU. Mr. Valeri Ratchev focused on the policy of peacemaking. As far as he is concerned it is “a real policy and has to be effective today and everywhere around the world”. In his speech the Ambassador of South Korea H.E. Chun Bee-ho paid attention on the connections between his country and the European Union. He also mentioned the events taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. In/ his opinion/According to him the West should find people in these countries, who are supporting the democracy and the democratic development. “It is important not only to help people, who are fighting against dictatorial regimes but to help in the fight for human rights,” said Ambassador Chun Bee-ho.
The second panel, entitled “European and US activity to promote democracy and human rights abroad” included remarks by former Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Bulgaria H.E. Karel van Kesteren, the Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland to Bulgaria H.E. John Rowan, Hristo Gudjev from the “Americas” Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Dragomir Draganov from Sofia University and the journalist from BTV Ms. Mira Badzeva as a moderator. Mr. Stanishev noticed that the EU first needs to deal with its internal issues before considering further enlargement. The former Prime Minister said he would like to see the European Union return to its values of the 90’s when “rule of law, people’s freedom and free choice were defining the politics [of the EU]”. The Ambassador of the Netherlands to Bulgaria H.E. Karel van Kesteren said that one of the main challenges for the next decades is the world poverty. He pointed out that the EU aid is equal to 60% of the total aid but 1/3 of it is being lost. The Ambassador of Ireland H.E. John Rowan focused on the Lisbon Treaty as well as some issues and challenges, which the European Union faces today. He thinks that the Union should rely more on its working structures. Mr. Gudjev from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the US and the EU should be treated on equal bases and quoted the President Barack Obama as saying that promoting democracy should “become an essential part of our foreign policy”. Prof. Dragomir Draganov from Sofia University assumed that we should stand united in our differences, although our points of view we should continue to conduct a dialogue. He also expressed his view that NATO has undergone transformation from military-political to political-military organization faster than the European Community after the of the Warsaw pact dissociation.
The focus of the third panel was on the events taking place in the Arab world, especially in North Africa. “Protest, revolution, and democracy in North Africa: Examining the relationship” brought together the Ambassador of South Africa to Bulgaria H.E. Sheila M. Camerer, the sociologist from Gallup International Andrey Raichev, the reporters Svetoslav Ivanov /BTV/, Diliana Gaytandjieva and Rosen Iliev /Nova TV/. Мoderator of this panel was the journalist Simeon Vassilev. The Ambassador of South Africa H.E. Shiela M. Camerer opened the discussion as pointing out the special relationship between Africa and the European Union. As far as the events in Middle East and North Africa are concerned she said that Egypt and Tunisia have a great potential and underlined that the international intervention in Libya should not extend beyond protecting the civilian population. She also quoted the famous New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman as saying that North Africa needs its own Nelson Mandela. The reporters from bTV and Nova TV dwelled on their considerable experience, acquired throughout North Africa during the so called Arab Spring. Ms. Gaytandjieva focused on the extremely important role, which Islam plays in these events while Mr. Ivanov spoke about the international response. The sociologist Andrey Raichev made remarks about what is happening around the world. As far as he is concerned the globalization creates more powerful regionalism and the issues in a region are becoming of a much greater concern for the countries in that region. „We have a situation in which not the countries are cooperating with each other but the regions and not the countries are facing problems but the regions“, said Mr. Raichev and gave examples with Portugal, Greece and others that were standing “on one and the same place - the periphery of Europe”.
The last panel of the day was called “The digital revolution and new form of active citizenship” with the journalist Dimitar Tsonev as a moderator. Guests in this part were the President of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria Dr. Solomon Passy, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Nikolay Vasilev, the journalist Ms. Mia Santova /TV7/, the CEO of Eyevision and WEB Radio & TV Martin Zahariev and the CEO of M3 Communications Group Maxim Behar. One of the main discussions during this panel was about social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. and security issues concerning the personal information, which is being exposed there. „Right now we are in the middle of a process where the digitalization turns the technological revolution into political one“, said Dr. Passy and gave an example with North Africa and the Middle East. “What is unique today is that the distance is not an obstacle for the communication anymore and that large masses can be organized for a very short time of period,” said the president of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. Mr. Maxim Behar believes that the print media was coming to an end and in the same time the word “public” was losing its meaning because by social media everyone becomes public. In his opinion the media in the future will be interactive media in real time, which “you will be able to control with hands, with voice, with everything.” The famous journalist Mia Santova expressed a skeptical opinion about social media and pointed out that the communication there is not sincere and has nothing in common with the reality. The former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Mr. Nikolay Vasilev talked about the e-government. As far as he is concerned the people as well as the governments knew too little about it and said that there is a great need for its development in Bulgaria. Mr. Zahariev foced on the risks in the social media by pointing out that the children have access to things in the internet, which are inappropriate for them and this access is getting bigger. He also paid attention on the private life of the people and made us ask ourselves “is there a digital life after death and what happens with the information, which a man had uploaded after his death?”
Тhe President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria H.E. Tsetska Tsacheva opened the second day of the conference. She said that the strife for perfection helped Bulgaria to join the European Union and what really made Europe attractive and wealthy was the variety of communities. However, this variety “makes the common decisions and common foreign and defense policy more difficult”. In her opinion Europe should pay more attention to its culture. “Europe should promote its culture more aggressively - its book translations, its film production as well as its art and spirituality,” said Mrs. Tsacheva. As far as social media is concerned, she mentioned that the internet society analyzed every political move and this made the politicians speak frankly and transparently. With the speech of the President of the National Assembly began the closing panel of the conference “Europe as Global Actor”. The guests who took part in the panel “The Foreign Policy Innovations of the Lisbon Treaty” were the current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H.E. Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the former Minister of Defense Nikolay Svinarov, the first Bulgarian EU Commissioner H.E. Meglena Kuneva, the former Prime Minister and Mayor of Sofia Stefan Sofiyansky, the Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary to Bulgaria H.E. Judith Lang, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to Bulgaria H.E. Marc Michielsen and the Director of the UN and Global Affairs Directorate H.E. Lyubomir Ivanov. The former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of European Affairs H.E. Gergana Passy was the panel moderator. Mr. Tsvetanov expressed gratefulness for the assistance, which the EU and the US has given to Bulgaria to guarantee its own security. He also mentioned the joint actions against cybercrimes and said that Europe’s security is a shared responsibility by all EU members and they had already taken it. As far as the turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East are concerned, the Minister of Interior pointed out the need to reduce the flow of immigrants coming to Europe. In his opinion the common regional policy is really important and that is why Bulgaria and Greece have proposed the creation of a Border Contact Center with Turkey.
According to the Ambassador of Hungary H.E. Judith Lang EU should have the capacity for global actions if it wants to be a reliable global actor. “The efficiency can be achieved by larger cooperation as well as development of the crisis management capabilities, which is being shown in the last 10 years,” said Ambassador Lang. She also said that the new institutions created with the Lisbon Treaty should contribute for higher effectiveness and to better coordinated decisions, while parallel actions of [the EU] structures are being avoided. The Ambassador of Belgium H.E. Marc Michielsen, expressed his view that Europe can hardly play the role of a global actor if there is no consensus and pointed out what was being done during the past 10 years in this direction is significant. The first Bulgarian Commissioner H.E. Meglena Kuneva paid special attention on the Lisbon Treaty. In her opinion, it is not possible to talk about consensus if we don’t talk about “Europe of values, rule of law, Europe of freedom” and added that the Lisbon Treaty helps considerably for achieving a common foreign policy. As far as the former Prime Minister and Mayor of Sofia Stefan Sofiyansky is concerned Europe need two things to have a common foreign policy. First, to define clearly what foreign policy is. “It has to be made clear that the relationships between Bulgaria and Romania or France and England are a matter of domestic affairs not a matter of foreign ones” and second “the balance between economy and democracy”. “How far the policy of the EU should be active, how far the Union should defend the democratic values beyond its borders, how far it can protect its economic interests.”, said Mr. Sofiyanski. The former Minister of Defense Mr. Nikolay Svinarov believes that while defending its values Europe should be a truly reliable and honest partner of the United States. “There will not be common European [foreign] policy just because there is a Lisbon Treaty and Commissioner Ashton, who is in charge of the foreign policy”, said Mr. Svinarov and also added that the European leaders “are obligated to the European Union and its opportunity to become a global actor.” The Director of the”UN and Global Affairs” Directorate H.E. Lyubomir Ivanov put the question “How much the EU is ready to assume the functions and responsibilities, which have been NATO’s for decades”
The International Conference “Europe as Global Actor” concluded with a Gala Lunch for the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria. It was attended by senior officials from the government and the private sector that had the opportunity to enjoy a good selection of quality food.