Sofia, September 14, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plenevliev has told his EU counterparts that their main goal is not to let Europe fall into a crisis of values and a lack of solidarity and unity.
Speaking in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv on September 14, the first of the two-day meeting of the Arraiolos Group – of the presidents of Bulgaria, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Hungary, Germany and Finland – Plevneliev said “whether we are talking about migration or security, we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder”.
European citizens expected political leaders to act decisively and resolve problems, not exacerbate them, Plevneliev said.
“It is our responsibility to overcome the crisis, to revive public confidence and to strengthen the foundations of the European project,” he said.
The meeting of heads of state of parliamentary republics in the EU is reflecting on the future of a united Europe and the Balkans, as well as the challenges it faces today – the migration crisis, the fight against terrorism, and Europe after the referendum vote in the UK to leave the European Union.
Plevneliev said that today more than ever, European countries need unity and every leader is obliged to contribute to achieving it.
“Today is not the time for national egoism. None of the crises is not within the power of the nation state. For each of the problems the only lasting solution is to achieve a pan-European solution,” he said.
Eleven crises were running in parallel in the EU, and the most dangerous of all is a moral crisis that consists in challenging the European values and lack of solidarity and unity to achieve sustainable solutions.
“Today Europe is faced with more problems than it has ever been in the years after World War 2 and unfortunately at this crucial moment, the European Union appears weak and divided,” Plevneliev said.
“Our main goal today is to not let Europe fall into a crisis of values, a crisis of lack of solidarity and unity. Whether we talk about migration or security we must stand shoulder to shoulder. Each member of our family has to contribute. We can not afford to ignore any member state. Today, no country is in the EU’s periphery,” Plevneliev said, reiterating his call for the launch of new integration projects that strengthen the unity of the EU.
Plevneliev said that Europeans today take for granted peace, open markets and borders, but are worried about migration, terrorism, unemployment, bureaucracy and reduced representativeness and legitimacy of the political elites and the loss of national identity.
The migration crisis was leading to a new division in the EU, and dependence on “the guards at the gates of Europe”, such as Turkey, Egypt, Libya and others, was growing and causing the rise of European populist and eurosceptic parties, which limited the opportunities to achieve common solutions,
He said that at a time when nationalist parties are fuelling people’s fears and gaining strength, when hatred, racism, xenophobia, populism and aggressive nationalism are on the rise, “we have to show the strength of our values and unity”.
“The European Union is primarily a union of values. If the values go, only geopolitics and interests are left.” This, Plevneliev said, raised the risk of going back to the 19th century, of great powers and narrow national interests.
“To look ahead, Europe needs visionaries, but to move forward, Europe needs strong institutions. Each of us should contribute to restoring confidence in European institutions. Brussels is not a convenient excuse for national failures. Instead of using Brussels as an excuse, each and every one must support Brussels, ” Plevneliev said.