A renewed focus on conflict prevention is needed, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has told the United Nations General Assembly, describing to the world body a deteriorating global security environment, characterised by a rising number of civil wars, growing extremism and an increased number of humanitarian crises.
Addressing the General Assembly on September 30 on themes from the migrant crisis to poverty and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Plevneliev said, “we are living in turbulent times”.
“The number of crises around the world is on a record high. Failing states, frozen conflicts, wars and terrorism create insecurity around Europe. Our citizens feel that instability. They expect from politicians to act boldly, to solve, not to deepen the crises.”
The ongoing conflicts in Syria, the Middle East, and Northern Africa are threatening the lives of millions, Plevneliev said.
The rising extremism that no borders can contain is a serious challenge to the international community. The degrading humanitarian situation in several conflict zones has forced millions of people to leave their homes, pack their whole lives in a suitcase and embark on a perilous, sometimes even deadly journey to safety, he said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are at Europe’s doorstep reaching out for a helping hand, struggling for the right to live.”
As a result, nationalistic parties that feed on people’s fears are seizing the momentum. Hate speech, xenophobia, populism and aggressive nationalism are on the rise again, Plevneliev said.
“All these challenges transcend national borders and call on us to act with resolve on a global scale.”
To prevent future crises, a UN early crisis detection system needs to be set up to safeguard the rule of law and human rights, he said.
A renewed focus on conflict prevention was needed, he said.
“Joint action by the international community in the fight against violent extremism is crucial,” Plevneliev told the General Assembly, adding that the UN is the best platform to manage and co-ordinate international efforts.
In order to ensure durable and viable solutions, close co-operation of governments and law enforcement institutions with regional organisations, civil society, local communities, media and the private sector was needed.
“On a national level we should adopt policies and measures that would prevent the radicalisation of marginalized groups and ensure their better integration in society,” Plevneliev said.
“As long as there is conflict in Syria, the refugee crisis will not go away. The efforts of the entire international community should be focused on ending hostilities in conflict zones, supporting institution building, the rule of law and respect for human rights. The role of neighbouring states is also of great importance.”
Plevneliev told the UN that Europe is currently focused on the establishment of a solidarity scheme which will allow the fair relocation and resettlement of refugees among all EU member states.
“We need to establish a relevant mechanism in order to distinguish those in need from those just looking for better life. The migrant crisis is a source of security concern. Apart from the fear of infiltration of extremists on European soil, it has once again raised the issue of illegal human trafficking which requires our urgent attention and concerted action.”
In the face of the unprecedented migratory flow towards Europe the EU has to demonstrate solidarity and responsibility, he said.
“In the EU we need not just to address the crisis but to solve it, led by European unity and our common desire for a peaceful and free Europe. The European Union represents the largest area of human rights, peace and democracy in the world. It is a family that stands together.”
Plevneliev said that there is a clear need to revitalise the Middle East Peace Process.
“Bulgaria fully supports the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Nikolai Mladenov, in his challenging mission. My country reaffirms its position that the ‘two-state solution’ formula is the realistic, just and lasting way to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ”
Plevneliev said that Bulgaria has consistently supported diplomacy as the only way to resolve the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme. “We welcome the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and hope that all the measures agreed therein will be fully and timely implemented.”
He told the UN that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was a blatant violation of international law and its principles.
“Bulgaria stands firmly behind Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. For us, Crimea is Ukraine and Ukraine is Europe.
“My country condemns any attempts for further destabilisation of Ukraine. The full implementation of the Minsk Agreements is essential. We call on all stakeholders to engage constructively in a political dialogue in order to reach a just political solution.”
Plevneliev closed by saying that once the formal process of nominating candidates to be the next UN Secretary General, Bulgaria was ready to nominate the candidate that would be the best fit for the post.
He noted that of the eight UN Secretaries-General, all had been men. “Time has come that a woman from Eastern Europe be entrusted with the highest position in the UN Secretariat ,” he said.
Bulgaria’s nominee, Plevneliev said, would be “a person of excellence, with extensive experience in international relations, with great interpersonal skills, an efficient manager and communicator, a true leader”.
(Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak)