2016-03-10 10:58:00

Leadership in time of crisis 4th Baku Global forum: Towards a multipolar world


Peace and freedom are tested, are confronted today. We witness the worst security situation since the end of World War II. We see fundamental differences between great powers and regional powers too. National borders and international principles are put into question to a stunning degree. We witness a much more complicated international system where world and regional institutions and powers are unable to prevent and solve conflicts in a sustainable way. In many regions war and terror prevail. States and institutions disintegrate. Today in Europe we understand that what happens in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan affects directly our lives. Today borders are making a comeback. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall over 40 countries worldwide have erected more than 60 new walls on the borders with their neighbors.

Yes, the world is out of balance today. And it will take time to find a new one. Global and regional powers understand that and put their ambition on the table for the new balance to be found. The Syrian conflict is a perfect example for that. There is a power vacuum in the world now. The US and its European allies are not in the best shape. China is getting more involved in global issues, but still has a long way to go to become a responsible stakeholder of international order. Russia demonstrates its status as a key global player, but its economy is weak and tells a very different story. Europe has a meaningful global role to play and needs to mobilize, start new integration engines, like for example the Energy Union and others.

We witness unstable regions, unsafe borders and worried citizens. Terrorism is on the rise. At any moment, in any place in the world, we could have a terrorist attack. No one is immune and no one is safe.

Today, the power in the world is shifting and changing. Unfortunately, the UN Security Council does not reflect that. The UN Security Council has huge legitimacy, but low efficiency. Reform is urgently needed.

At the Munich Security Conference a month ago, the Russian prime minister spoke about the time of the First Cold War, and the New Cold War time we are facing today. I hope we are not heading into a new Cold War. We are not in a time of a new Cold War, but we are in a time of Cold Peace. Two years ago, at the Munich Security Conference, I pointed out that Europe has entered a new period. The Ukrainian crisis was the game changer. We have entered a new face of development, which I call Cold Peace Time. Peace, because nobody wants to have war, but Cold Peace because we see confrontation and methods from the time of the Cold War - propaganda wars, cyber-attacks, proxy and hybrid warfare elements, frozen conflicts.

The Russian president often speaks about a new balance in the world with the spheres of interest of great powers to be respected. Are we heading towards a new Yalta Conference? If the West allows that, it will be a historic mistake. We are living in a difficult and critical times, because world and regional leaders demonstrate different approaches and different goals in politics. If you don’t have a cause, you need a war. The cause of wise politics is to modernize, to educate, to give way to diplomacy, not to fight. It’s easy to break, shoot and fight. It’s easy to destabilize. It’s easy to win the war, but it’s very difficult to win the peace. States can be broken easily by powerful neighbors. But broken societies can be repaired only by people, not by great powers. You can quickly break order but it takes a lot of time to repair it. So, the meaning of politics should not be to create frozen conflicts or occupy your neighbor’s territory. Not to move borders, but to think beyond borders. The meaning of politics is to modernize, to make your nation educated, free and prosperous. The meaning of politics is to empower citizens, to create societies that are free and tolerant.

Dear friends,

Europe cannot be an island of stability in the ocean of world instability today. The EU is facing a record number of crises too. Additional crises are on the radar screen in 2016, for example the possible Brexit, the rise of nationalists and populists, the migration wave and others. Europe could also fall into a moral crisis – a crisis of lack of solidarity, a crisis of values.  

The EU has unique significance and strong political legitimacy, because of the peaceful discussions and settlement of differences, because of the shared fundamental rights and rules, and because of the achieved unprecedented level of cooperation and integration between 28 Member States.

The EU is a unique project for peace, where every nation is important. No state is periphery or subordinate. Political, economic and security cooperation is no longer a matter of choice, but of necessity. The problems of migration, terrorism, climate change, energy interdependence, economic crises, etc. go beyond our borders. These problems are transnational and require joint efforts.

We see chaos around our borders, failed states, and frozen conflicts. Criminal networks make billions from human tragedies. Brutal criminal interests and human traffickers make huge business by playing with people’s lives. Because of that the operations of NATO and Frontex on the outside borders of the EU in the Mediterranean are just and timely. Helping people whose life is in danger is a universal value. But it is also essential to make the difference between those who run for their lives and migrants that are just looking for better economic perspectives. European leaders now understand, that there is no contradiction between keeping our borders safe and respecting the human rights and freedoms.

The Balkans today are frontline and first on the line to protect Europe. I wish to see the Balkans become a frontline of stability and prosperity, a frontline of tolerance and peaceful coexistence of different religions and ethnic minorities. As president I say we Bulgarians want borders to fall and not to be moved. We have a balanced and a principle foreign policy, we want to be friends with everyone. Because everyone can and must contribute to peace and stability. As crises are global, solutions should be global too. Only through solidarity and cooperation we will overcome the challenges.

We need to team up, to develop global strategies on how to fight terrorism, climate change, migrant waves, how to share the limited resources of our planet, rather than building fortresses to defend shortsighted national interests. The trick is to engage leaders from political, economic and civil society sectors, and not just to talk and discuss, but to implement, to contribute, to solve and not to deepen problems.

What do we need to do? A year ago I spoke here in Baku about:

- Prevention – we need to be proactive and establish a global mechanism at the UN for early detection of crises;
- Have focus – choose one crisis and get it solved;
- Take bold political decisions – the EU badly needs exactly that today;
- The power of diplomacy – negotiate, negotiate and do not shoot, because the use of weapons is a proof of absence of arguments;
- The power of principles, not interest. Especially the principles of international law, territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the borders of each and every state, which we need to reconfirm, not to renegotiate.

So, dear friends, 2016 will be a year of growing risks and uncertainty, as we are moving into a more unstable world order. It will take time until a new balance is reached in a new multipolar world. In this transitional period we have to build and rebuild a more resilient regional and world order through our joint efforts. We should promote institutional reforms, diplomacy and principles. We should support leaders that understand that differences should be resolved peacefully and not through proxy and propaganda wars. We need to achieve a rules-based global order and societies.

The history of mankind is most of all a history of cooperation and diplomacy, not just of wars and conflicts. The great poet and visionary of the 12-th century Nizami Ganjavi taught leaders to seek knowledge, “for through knowledge you effect that doors to you be opened, not closed”. We need this sound base of wisdom and morality and we should support leaders who respect them.

Thank you!