The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a Declaration, initiated by Bulgaria, to reconfirm the principles of European unity and cooperation. On November 27, 2015 the Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly between plenary sessions, is holding its sitting in Sofia.
The proposal to adopt a declaration on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act was tabled by the Chairperson of the Bulgarian national delegation to PACE, Dzhema Grozdanova, in Strasbourg on September 29, 2015. The document stresses the importance of the Helsinki Final Act for the European unity and cooperation.
In the Declaration PACE is calling for a Summit of Heads of State and Government so that the member states, in respect of the Bulgarian initiative, reaffirm at the highest political level their commitment to the common Values and Principles of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law. The history of the Council of Europe knows only three such summits held in Vienna in 1993, in Strasbourg in 1997 and in Warsaw in 2005.
The adoption of the Declaration is a positive signal, demonstrating European unity and cooperation, stated the head of the Bulgarian delegation to PACE Dzhema Grozdanova. In her speech before the participants in the forum she expressed hope that “the voice of the Assembly raised here in Sofia could restore the European spirit of cooperation and brotherhood among the peoples of Europe”.
Dzhema Grozdanova stressed that the period, in which Bulgaria assumes the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, is marked by a number of challenges. After 50 years of peace, cooperation and reintegration into Europe after World War II and the Cold War, we are now faced with many conflicts that clearly violate the principles and values bequeathed on us by the founding fathers of Europe, she said.
Dzhema Grozdanova went on to say that the terrorist acts, the wave of migrants and the total disregard for International Law urge the Assembly members to find a way to address these new challenges. According to her the meaning of the motto of the Bulgarian Chairmanship, “Unity makes strength”, should be connected with finding solutions. We would like to offer this motto to Europe, because we believe that this is the best way to face the new realities, added the head of the Bulgarian delegation to PACE.
The Sofia declaration revisits the basic principles and values of the Council of Europe that have changed the continent and have replaced conflicts with cooperation, said Dzhema Grozdanova. We believe that we need to reconfirm and honour the ideals and values based on humanity, democracy, respect of human rights and the rule of law, she stressed. These values will secure democracy, without which there could be no social or economic security, said the head of the Bulgarian delegation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Mitov presented before the parliamentarians the priorities of the Bulgarian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe: protecting the rights of children and the disadvantaged, as well as protection of media freedoms. These fall under the three main pillars upon which the Council of Europe rests - democracy, rule of law and human rights, the Foreign Minister said. He expressed hope that Bulgaria would succeed, along with addressing the dynamic geopolitical situation, in paying due attention to the priorities it has set as a country chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.