Liberal Party Leaders from South East Europe Meet in Sofia

Liberal Party Leaders from South East Europe Meet in Sofia

Sofia, September 18 (BTA) - The annual Leaders' Meeting of the Liberal South East European Network (LIBSEEN) was opened in Sofia by Lyutvi Mestan, Chairman of Bulgaria's Movement for Rights and Freedoms. The event has brought together Liberal leaders (ministers, parliamentarians and party chiefs) from South East Europe. The President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Graham Watson, is attending the forum.

The theme of the meeting is Liberalism as an essentially new factor for European integration. In four discussion panels, the participants will look at: Liberalism as a political and value-based platform for a new model of EU enlargement; the EU and the ideas of democracy, multiculturalism and stability, and the reality in Southeastern Europe; the role of the NGO sector and civil societies in promoting Liberalism in South East Europe; and ethnic models in South East Europe.

Mestan said in his opening address that Europe is faced with an unprecedented refugee crisis. "Are the razor wire fences we are building in Bulgaria and Hungary a solution to the problem? What is our Liberal response, not only to the refugee crisis, but also for the future of our [European] Union?" Mestan said, adding that these questions will be discussed during the forum.

"The EU, encircled by razor wire fences against the refugees, is a dead union," Mestan said. "If, like Orban [the Prime Minister of Hungary], all other countries, including our friends in the Western Balkans, also decide to close off their national borders with more razor wire fences, if Turkey, too, closes off its borders - and there are two million refugees there - what will happen to these people? This question concerns the identity of Europe."

Mestan believes the solution lies in European solidarity, which implies a strategy for the distribution of refugee flows. "The burden should not be carried solely by the countries which are geographically adjacent to the crisis region," he said.

"For their European integration, the Western Balkans and South East Europe need Liberal solutions and strong Liberal encouragement from ALDE and the Liberal International, they need a new Liberal concept for integrating into the EU," Mestan said.

Source: Sofia