2018-01-11 19:57:00

Speech by Head of State Rumen Radev at the official opening ceremony of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU

Esteemed Mr. President of the European Parliament,

Esteemed Mr. President of the Council of Europe,

Esteemed Mr. President of the European Commission,

Esteemed Mrs. Speaker of the National Assembly,

Esteemed Mr. Prime Minister,

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bulgaria took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU on 1 January. Bulgaria has been member of the EU for 11 years, yet it has been Europe’s southeast gateway for 13 centuries.  This is a historical experience with a high price. As a region the Balkans is aware that division gives rise to tragedies. Europe is too big to be monolithic, yet too small to be divided. Therefore the slogan of our Presidency is “United We Stand Strong.” Bulgaria boasts the model of good co-existence of a couple of religions, which has stood the test of time. We are the homeland of the Cyrillic alphabet, which is a bridge to the East. Moreover, Bulgaria, which currently has to catch up with the developed countries in the Union, engaged in rescuing its Jews way back during Europe’s gloomiest years. This makes me believe that we have given a lot and we are yet to give more to our European family.

We are taking over the Presidency at a moment difficult for the Union. Global insecurity makes European defense an imperative. Migration and terrorism require that the EU holds an active dialogue with its big neighbors. Competitiveness should not be achieved by restricting social rights but by making strategic investments in education and in high technologies. I am convinced in one thing: when problems affect all, the key to their solution is being realistic and showing solidarity in our efforts. In the name of Europe’s future, we need to engage in comprehensible talk, ensure simplified procedures, construct a new self-confidence and overcome egoism.

I believe that in the next six months all of you, our guests from Europe, will feel at home among Bulgaria’s ruins from Roman times and orthodox churches, in Sofia, where the orthodox church, the Catholic cathedral, the mosque and the synagogue are located only a couple of hundred meters away from one other. This is a unique historical achievement. I believe this is a marvelous inspiration which will remind all of us that Europe is not an economic space, but a land of freedom, rooted in history, culture and humanism, which we should never turn our backs to.