2011: Transitional Justice: Session 1:Dealing with the Past

Sofia Platform: Transitional Justice

3-4 December 2011

Session 1:Dealing with the Past

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“Our desire for change is what unites our societies”, said the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borisov during his welcoming speech at the international conference “Sofia Platform: Transitional Justice”. Transition needs mutual respect and maximum efforts to avoid violence – this is probably the most important lesson from the velvet revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe. The Prime Minister focused on the history of transition in Bulgaria by underlining the easiness to destroy an authoritarian regime and the difficulty to build a government of law to preserve the public piece. Therefore, stated Borisov, we are ready to offer to our Arabian friends, without imposing solutions, to look into our experience.

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To rethink our past and heritage, so as to help those, who are just starting their democratic path, pointed out at his speech in the conference the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Mladenov.

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Democracy is being built by democrats and it’s only then, when the aims are democratic as well as the means for it, said President Zhelyu Zhelev. He made a parallel between the velvet revolutions from the end of the 80s and the democratic movements and revolutions in the Arab world. if we want to live in security and stability, we have to work for a real democratic world.

The Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Fahmy Fayet stated that the best way to achieve justice is the rule of law. The basic driving force is the will of people and in that sense the authorities in Egypt will make everything possible those who are guilty for the past to receive a just punishment from a real court. It is important for Egypt to succeed, underlined Fayet, having in mind the key position of the country in the region.
Every revolution requires laws to be applied, and not changed, shared the former premiere of Slovakia Jan Charnogursky. He presented the experience of his country in transition from communism to democracy in order to meet the requirements of the European legislation.
For us it is very important the countries that have built democratic institutions to render us assistance and support as we count on co-operation from the European countries that have implemented transition, stated Muftah Alwerfali from the National Transitional Council of Libya.

I would like to greet the organizers that have thought of two important things: transitional justice and the connection between the Arab East and Europe. I believe, stated Burhan Galiun from the oppositional National Council of Syria, that the Arab Spring is giving us the opportunity to overcome the communication gap  in our region, to build a better future of our countries. Syria is ready to transit to democracy of tolerance and to be an important partner of those who defend democratic values.