Lecture of the President Rumen Radev before the European Public Law Organization in Athens
Dear President Pavlopoulos,
Dear Professor Flogaitis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great privilege to be a speaker at such a prestigious organization. It is also a pleasure to address your large audience. From the very outset, I would like to express my deep esteem and appreciation to the goals and activities of the EPLO. I am proud is my honor to be lined up next to lecturers and distinguished colleagues, such as President Pavlopoulos of Greece, President Matarella of Italy and President da Souza of Portugal. My background is not linked to public law, to any branch of law at all. But I strongly believe that the noble mission of the EPLO deserves full support by any politician and statesman.
President Pavlopoulos, I have always admired your wisdom and your ability to focus the discussions we had among our fellow European presidents and to focus our attention on the vital importance of the rule of law and the human rights. I also thank you for your kind words, for the trust and friendship throughout the years. During my 1st official visit to Greece we established a solid bond and I regard my meetings today with president Sakellaropoulou and PM Mitsotakis as a continuation of our dedication to enlarge and deepen the strategic cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria.
I will slightly divert from the theoretical aspects of my lecture today and share some thoughts and important moments of the discussions I had today with the prime minister and the president of Greece. We should depart from the paradigm that Greek problems are just Greek problems. That Bulgarian problems are just Bulgarian problems. No, Greek and Bulgarian problems and challenges are European problems and challenges. And the core essence of the EU is our solidarity and we need to stand up together for the common European space of our values, the space of our cultural, social and economical achievements and to defend them together. I think that my presence here goes in this direction of solidarity and strategic cooperation.
I also remember our meetings with our fellow presidents and how we have argued about a lot of things, regarding public law. I should share that your involvement was vital to come to the basics of our union. So thank you once again, Mr Pavlopoulos, for your huge contribution to our successful working and results together.
For a second consecutive decade, the EPLO holds high the torch of the rule of law and defending the human rights. It is not just about public law, in my opinion. It is about values that are deeply rooted in the very foundation of our EU – values that unite us and make us stronger and successful. It is vitally important to defend these values today, when the global technologies and the exacerbating political and social contradictions dominate our societies. That’s why the role of the EPLO grows against this political landscape.
Freedom, democracy, human rights were the ultimate goal of many generations in their efforts and self-sacrifice for making them available and that we enjoy them today. These are the highest achievements of our civilization. When we are talking about these values today, we have to admit that they are far from being fully achieved and far from being implemented in a perfect way. However, I believe that they remain in the today’s world of challenges, uncertainty and deep transformation, they remain our moral compass and deserve every effort in protecting them.
The European values historically lead us to the principles of the rule of law and to the welfare state. They distinguish between each individual European state, but also are the pillers of our common integration project. I believe that based on these values we must orient the development of our societies, of our governments in the best possible way, devoting our efforts to the principles of the rule of law and democracy. As Europe is a unique geopolitical space and a society based on a model, which aims to reconcile the market economy with the maximum possible protection of human and social rights.
The history has shown that it is a challenging task for politicians to govern the state in a democratic way, assessing every step they take through the prism of protecting the freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law, freedom of media, which is very important nowadays. This is the toughest way of governance. You know by your long experience in politics, much longer than me.
I think that every single political decision must be aligned in conformity to our leading principles. Therefore, sometimes it looks like that in Europe we are slow and inefficient.
You remember our long argues, we have argued a lot among our fellow presidents about the problems we have in shaping timely decisions about the speed of the European decision-making process. In the same time some geopolitical and I could say also regional powers – they are not obliged, they don’t have that feeling, they don’t have that moral obligation to abide to those leading principles and values we have. That’s why in the short run they are faster, they look more efficient. They pretty often look like sprinters taking the advantage of the fast start. While for us it is much more difficult to take timely decisions. Sometimes it is even frustrating – you know our arguments.
However, I believe that human development is not a sprint distance but a marathon. And I believe that we are going to win in the long run, because we have much stronger moral background. And this background is based on our values.
Today all of us feel that Europe goes through tough times. Difficulties to improve the “acquis communautaire” by using common criteria shared by all member states, provoke skepticism about our Union's ability to deal with problems and as they say - to come closer to its citizens. The frustration comes partly due to the fact, that our societies are shaped by a model on which our citizens have bigger control at national than at European level. That is why we need to continue our efforts to improve the European legislation system, but this improvement should be based on expertise and knowledge. And there is a large room is opening for organizations like the EPLO, based on your experience and scientific knowledge about this matter.
Our societies face challenges related not only to our common European project, but beyond European Union, problems of universal and global meaning and scale. And in the era of global technologies and artificial intelligence we have to be very careful. We must take care to develop those technologies and artificial intelligence in order to serve our values and to protect them. If we fail in this, this could be the end of our civilization.
There is another longstanding debate that is more philosophical than juridical. It is about which approach has primacy, which approach is more fair, moral and beneficial for our societies. Should the legislation follow the social developments by implementing and subordinating to every day social life and behaviors? Or the social behaviors and social developments must follow the moral principles integrated in our legislation? I believe that first and above all should be our values. I believe that the legislation and law should serve our values and this is the ultimate social interest of our societies.
Right now there is interesting constitutional debate going on in Bulgaria. Is our constitution relevant to the recent social and political development in my country? Do we need a brand new Constitution or amendments to the existing one are sufficient? Whatever the approach would be, we should not afford any institutional, party or personal interests to dominate our constitution. And this is for the benefit of the society.
Providing and implementing knowledge on rule of law in and outside Europe is a noble mission. Providing training to lawyers and civil servants, as a core task of this organization, strengthens the democratic architecture of states and societies – an architecture based on rights, obligations and choices we can make. And this architecture is beneficial for the whole world.
I am also proud to be here and I am going back to your role, Mister President Pavlopoulos, your long standing affiliation to the goals of the EP law demonstrates the commitment of the Greek state and institutions – there is no surprise that a nation that gave to the humanity the notion of democracy and responsible governance is in the front line of our efforts to build democratic and prosperous societies. As far for our part I believe that we will not let ourselves to deprive you and your organization from our strong support - for the benefit and for the future this is our duty to our nations, to our common European project and to the future of the next generations to come.
Thank you once again for your invitation and something more – to professor Flogaitis – I do believe that with this noble mission and capacity the EPLO can and must be among the actors of a new European season – able to show rules and social models to increase the quality of our coexistence.
Thank you once again. It is my pleasure and I will be more than pleased if we continue our cooperation in the spirit of our values.