SPEECHES AND STATEMENTS
STATEMENT BY H. E. MR. RUMEN RADEV, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA, AT THE GENERAL DEBATE OF THE 74th SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
MR. PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
At the very outset I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your able guidance that I believe will lead us to the answers of the pressing challenges. Today, more than ever, we need to stand for a rule-based multilateral system, with the United Nations at its core. In this context, I would like to express our support for the timely and important initiative, launched by both Germany and France, for the creation of an Alliance for Multilateralism – a network of like-minded nations working to foster effective multilateral approaches to global issues through the United Nations. This initiative perfectly matches this year’s topic for the General Debate. Allow me to say a few words on the different building elements of our main topic and its overarching theme – Sustainable Development for all parts of our planet.
The High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the pivotal event in the margins of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly. There is a pressing need to accelerate the pace of progress in achieving all Sustainable Development Goals. The human race is facing rapidly developing detrimental consequences of ever-growing overuse of natural resources and massive urbanization. Some human activities result in irreversible environmental pollution; in reducing biodiversity and in threatening the fragile ecosystems.
We commend UN Secretary-General António Guterres for convening the Climate Summit as a catalyst of the collective political will to reach lower and, over time, climate-neutral levels of industrial green gas emissions. This master message of the Summit must ring out loudly from this highest international tribune.
Bulgaria stands by its obligations undertaken under the Paris Agreement. My country will spare no efforts in transforming its economy in a way, which will contribute to the common goal of keeping temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and reaching net zero global emissions by 2050. Bulgaria has already reached the interim target of 18% share of renewable sources in the energy mix, thus becoming an EU champion.
This year, Secretary-General Guterres marked the first-ever International Day of Education on January 24, putting education at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Bulgaria whole-heartedly subscribes to his assessment that education is an engine for poverty eradication and a driving force for peace.
As a member of the Human Rights Council Bulgaria committed to empowerment of children with disabilities through inclusive education. The inclusive education is an essential tool for the whole process of social inclusion. In a world driven by information and communication technologies, we place a particular emphasis on the opportunities offered by education. In the years to come the Bulgarian Commissioner in the European Commission will be in charge of the sector of youth, education and innovations, which proves the importance we attach to these priorities.
Global Health is one of the major present-day global challenges. Bulgaria confirms its commitment towards achieving universal health coverage as inscribed in our national priorities. We welcome the timely High-Level Meeting on the matter as well as the Declaration on Universal Health Coverage and its ambitious Call for Action.
The United Nations has unique array of tools for mediation, conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. We welcome Secretary General’s vision for a closely interlinked reform of all key areas in this most important field.
Bulgaria welcomes Secretary-General's commitment to advance diplomacy for peace and stands ready to support his efforts to strengthen the role of mediation in conflict prevention, embodied in the Action for Peacekeeping initiative.
International terrorism and violent extremism continue to pose a significant threat to international peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. The international community should beef up efforts to strengthen counterterrorism cooperation by supporting the United Nations as a key player. Unfortunately, over the last year the international community has not been able to reach a breakthrough in any major conflict around the world. The proclaimed military victory over the so called ISIS “Caliphate” last March was not enough to bring the war-torn Middle East region closer to the peace. The international community should stay vigilant as the terrorist threat still exists in different forms.
Finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria is crucial for the stability and security of the region and beyond. We call for a nationwide cessation of hostilities and for the protection of civilians. It is imperative to ensure humanitarian access to all parts of the country. A lasting political process should be launched, under the auspices of the UN, aimed at peaceful and inclusive political transition. A sustainable political solution should be sought through a genuine Syrian-owned political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. Bulgaria highly appreciates the commitment of the neighboring host countries to ease the suffering of the refugees.
There is no military solution to the crisis in Libya. Bulgaria will continue to support the relaunch of the UN-led mediation process and the preparation of parliamentary and presidential elections when possible. The stabilization of Libya is of utmost importance for regional security and for the management of migration flows in the Mediterranean. Bulgaria supports the close cooperation between the EU and the International Organization for Migration aimed at increasing the number of voluntary returns and improving the conditions in the detention centers in Libya.
Bulgaria will continue to support all efforts aimed at resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, including those of the Quartet, on the Middle East Peace Process. A two-State solution is the only way to sustainable peace. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is a cause for great concern. It should remain a priority of the United Nations and international community alike.
The five-year long armed confrontation in Yemen clearly showed that durable and comprehensive solution to this conflict could not be achieved by military means. The effective end of hostilities would allow for improving the catastrophic humanitarian situation. Bulgaria supports the efforts to revive the political process as well as the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement as a starting point for peace settlement.
It has been more than five years since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine. Despite periodic ceasefires, the situation in Eastern Ukraine remains highly precarious. We call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 68/262 of March 2014. The exchange of detainees is a sign of hope, but the parties to the conflict should implement in full the mutually agreed Package of measures, endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015). It is of vital importance that they abide by the ceasefire, complete the withdrawal of heavy weapons and grant unhindered access to the OSCE Special monitoring mission to all sites.
Bulgaria expresses deep concern about the decision of Iran to suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on its nuclear program. The return to full compliance with the nuclear deal and the further diplomatic outreach is the only prerequisite for lowering the tensions. Discussing the regional role and the ballistic missile program of Iran is to be addressed separately from the JCPoA.
We are also seriously concerned by the recent escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf. An immediate priority should be given to de-escalation measures aimed at avoiding further incidents.
The resumption of the US-DPRK dialogue and the encouraging signals with regard to Pyongyang’s readiness to engage in negotiations on denuclearization represent a qualitatively new phase in the international efforts. It is vital that summit agreements are followed by actions yielding tangible results. Bulgaria reiterates its support for the strict and effective implementation of the sanctions regime, as well as for keeping the channels of communication open.
The multilateral efforts in non-proliferation and disarmament remain central. Next year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which coincides with the 2020 NPT Review Conference. For keeping the momentum we need to reconfirm the validity of the Treaty as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Bulgaria consistently supports the integration of the Western Balkans in the European Union. The process leading to membership is an investment in the stability. Bulgaria puts a special emphasis on the need for overcoming the legacies of the past in this region by actively building good-neighborly relations.
Bulgaria welcomes all initiatives to the benefit of the social and economic empowerment especially of persons belonging to vulnerable groups. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council my country is dedicated to remain active on the matter. I had the honor to address the Council in June this year and to confirm our commitment to champion the rights of those in need.
As co-chair of the Group of Friends of Children and working together with UNICEF, we strictly follow our principle. I would like to strongly highlight that the family is the best environment for raising the children. Bulgaria is a champion in deinstitutionalization.
Women around the world continue to be underrepresented in both government and private entities. They still constitute the majority of the world’s poor. I am proud that my country has an outstanding record in the field of women empowerment. Bulgaria is fully committed to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Tolerance and understanding are values, laying in the very foundation of democracy. Regrettably, nowadays, despite all efforts made, antisemitism continues to rear its ugly face. The rescue of the entire Jewish population of Bulgaria in 1943 is one of the stellar moments in our history. In the darkest ages of the WWII not a single individual from the 50,000 Bulgarian Jewish community was sent to the camp of death. My country provided an example of how the civil society can defend the human values. Our national tradition of tolerance and respect for others obliges us to provide our clear response to growing antisemitism, xenophobia and hate speech.
Next year we will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Strong messages mobilizing broad international approval and bold and prompt concerted actions are more than ever needed today, and will certainly be needed tomorrow. The message I would like to convey to all of you is also my personal belief – our mission is still possible and our mission is to make it true.
THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT