PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA
at the Plenary Session of the
Summit on Sustainable Development
2 September 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the ten years since the Rio Conference Bulgaria has been in a process of radical transition from centrally planned to a market economy, from a single party totalitarian regime to a multi-party democracy and the rule of law.
Any transition is a process different from a sustainable state. The transformations in Bulgaria, while aiming at a sustainable development, have gone through complicated and difficult stages. The heavy bill thereof had to be paid mainly by the people and nature. The uniqueness of the transition, the lack of experience and a clear vision for the future, the eagerness to part with everything associated with the old days and start living a new, a better life, have led to a number of mistakes. These, together with the indecision and wandering about, have, in the final analysis, brought about unemployment and poverty previously unknown.
The wrong model of the old totalitarian system, marked by the presence of the state everywhere and in everything, and the suppression of private ownership and free enterprise, was replaced spontaneously in the early years of transition by another wrong model: abdication of the state as an exponent and protector of the public interest, complete denial of economic planning, non-regulated and undefined business relations.
Today, this wrong model is gradually giving way to the model of sustainable development, where man, nature and economic growth coexist in harmony. The common policies and good practices of the European Union in nature protection, the development of industry and agriculture, energy, transport, technologies, as well as in employment and social protection of citizens provide the framework for the practical implementation of this model in Bulgaria. The good results achieved in the introduction and implementation of these policies and practices have underpinned the tangible progress made this year in Bulgaria's negotiations for accession in the EU.
This wide framework for practical implementation of the model for sustainable development in Bulgaria has made it possible to involve in it all institutions and key social groups - centrally, regionally and locally, trade unions, representatives of the small, medium and big business and non-governmental organizations. Our experience of the past years has shown that these groups, institutions and organizations can be much more efficient working for sustainable development if they refer to common strategies, programs and plans and coordinate their activities through an effective partnership. But also, if they are assisted by the developed states and the international organizations.
This coordination and partnership has yielded best results on local level. This is why Bulgaria was selected, together with Poland and Turkey, to show its best practices in a parallel event entitled "Partnership for local action - towards sustainable communities in Central and Eastern Europe". It will take place on 3 September within the framework of the present Summit.
Against the background of the unsatisfactory results of sustainable development in the past ten years and the new challenge of global terrorism, our experience as a country in transition has taught us the following: in order to achieve tangible results in its sustainable development, the world needs a clear vision, the one we have in Agenda 21, political will, expressed in the Political Declaration of this forum, which we support, and a plan of concrete actions, as laid down in the Implementation Plan. But most of all it needs concrete practical steps undertaken in a spirit of solidarity, proportionally and in concert by all countries alike, rich and poor, developing and developed, big and small. This means that we should not only declare and promise, design and plan but also act to build our own future, the future of our children and grandchildren. This also means that the rich and developed countries should shoulder their bigger share of the world's efforts to stay on course toward sustainable development.
It is high time that we proceed from declarations to specific actions!
The Republic of Bulgaria stands ready to make its contribution!