Graham Watson MEP, Preseident of the European Liberal Democrats, has delivered a call to action at the congress of liberals in Bulgaria:
“Friends, we face many challenges in the construction of our European Union.
First among them for Liberals is the state of justice in many of our member states. Corruption, discrimination and nepotism are still all too prevalent. Transparency, the best disinfectant, too rare. We have much work to do to improve justice, particularly for those from minority communities, such as the Moslem and Roma communities in Europe. Part of this must involve remaining open to Turkey’s membership of the EU and working to restore relations between Greece and Turkey. Here Liberals are leading the way, and Bulgaria could play an important role.
And part must involve insisting there is no going back on democracy, in Turkey or in Egypt or anywhere else.
We need too to build a basis for economic growth and more jobs. Budgetary discipline, of course, but investment too in the innovation and the infrastructure of tomorrow’s success.
Like my country, Bulgaria might be pleased not to be in the euro-zone at this moment in time. But in the end, we are part of one European economy. We need one set of European rules with which all must comply. Solidarity, of course. But discipline too. And a shared commitment to a common future. So we need the joint investments in job creating infrastructure projects for which Liberals are calling.
We need too the political will to tackle the big challenges we face in common.
The contours of the global economy are drawn not here in Europe but in the computer campuses of west coast America, in the call centres of India, in the factories of China and Brazil. We need not just a common market but common policies for the business success which drives jobs and lifts wages and living standards.
Or challenges such as rapid world population growth and migration, climate change and energy security, fighting international crime. Europe offers us the solidarity to face these together.
Under King Simeon the Great Bulgaria became one the most important countries in Europe, stretching out across the Balkan peninsula and beyond. In the nineteenth century the British Empire was the world’s foremost power. Neither country can hope to regain such glory. But where we once thought of power we can now think of responsibility. Where once we sought to plunder we can now seek to share the world’s limited resources.
We can look forward with Ivan Vazov to a new age of enlightenment. With the French writer Victor Hugo to a time when the only battlefields will be those of markets open for business and the human spirit open for ideas. Or with the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, to the time when hope and history will rhyme.
Friends, I look forward to your elections next year and the European elections the year after. Let the fight back begin!”