In the past, the Balkans have often been a source of conflict, and even today some of those have not completely faded. Using the historic chance provided by the EU Council Presidency, Bulgaria has initiated a process that has put the Western Balkans at the the centre of European politics. Considerable progress has been reached in the Western Balkans on issues that had not been solved so far for decades. This was stated by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in his speech during the General Debate at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. This year's main theme of the UN Global Policy Debate is "Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Fair, and Sustainable Societies".


The Bulgarian Prime Minister highlighted in front of the participants at the UN General Debate that a convincing testimony to the progress of the Western Balkan countries is the recently signed key agreements between Sofia and Skopje and between Athens and Skopje. "Literally, in two days' time, the Republic of Macedonia will have to make a decisive choice for its future - to confirm the unprecedented compromise reached with neighboring Greece, which will clear the country's path towards its European and Euro-Atlantic integration. The moment is really historic, the question is 'now or never,'" pointed out Boyko Borissov. According to hum, everyone is aware that this is only the beginning of a new, encouraging but tough and long road. "The stake is very high. We should not leave 'white spots' on the political map with countries with slow development. The situation is very dynamic and plentiful of important events, which will determine the direction of development of the region for many years ahead and, to a large extent, the state of the EU," said the Bulgarian Prime Minister.


Boyko Borissov pointed out that coping with global challenges today is not the responsibility of individual countries but requires shared responsibility and partnership. "Global leadership is above all a matter of huge responsibility. Regardless of whether a country is small or large - each can contribute to the promotion of peace, equality, and sustainability of our societies," said Borissov. He stressed to the delegations from around the world that the guarantee for peace and prosperity globally can be attained not only with weapons and battles, but also with more humanity.


"Our understanding of global leadership also includes the economic empowerment of women as a key prerequisite for achieving sustainable societies and gender equality in practice," said Boyko Borissov.


Prime Minister Borissov also commented on the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine. "Unfortunately, there is no progress in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, which we consider to be the only way to find a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict," said Boyko Borissov and called for a doubling of the joint efforts to achieve peace and stability in Ukraine, as well as respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.


Prime Minister Boyko Borissov expressed the view that through the resumption of the Middle East Peace Process a final agreement could be reached on the basis of the principle of two countries living in peace and security.


"Despite the efforts of the international community, military operations in Syria continue and entail numerous civilian casualties and thousands of new refugees. Bulgaria supports efforts to prevent the escalation of the armed conflict and maintain the continuation of the political dialogue and the internal Syrian negotiations," added the Prime Minister.


Addressig the UN General Assembly participants, the Bulgarian Prime Minister said that with regard to Libya, our country supports the UN Action Plan and the efforts of the mission of the World Organization for Support, whose primary task is to stabilize the country and achieve national reconciliation in the conditions of political and institutional fragmentation. "We support the agreements reached by the four key political leaders to hold presidential and parliamentary elections," the Prime Minister clarified.


Boyko Borissov stated that migration is a global phenomenon which is why it requires a global response and the international community should focus its efforts on the main causes of migration - political, socio-economic, and natural. "Within the framework of the European Commission, Bulgaria took an active part in the process of negotiating the Global Pact for Secure, Regular and Legal Migration. We also welcome the final compromise of the texts of the Global Refugee Pact," he added.


The Prime Minister also commented on the growing number of terrorist acts around the world. According to him, unregulated migratory flows provide broad possibilities for the penetration in our countries and societies of former fighters from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., including well-trained members of terrorist organizations such as IDIL and al-Qaeda. "A priority task is to take measures to protect young people from radicalization and involvement in the networks of terrorist groups, as well as to neutralize the influence of individuals and organizations preaching terrorist acts," Borissov said.


The Bulgarian Prime Minister pointed out that at the High-Level Meeting on the World Drug Problem, organized by US President Donald Trump each country made a committment to the fight against this global challenge. Bulgaria was not a co-host of the meeting by coincidence, as we have already taken responsibility and have proven our commitment to tackling this problem. My country can serve as a role-model. Achieving peace, security, and stability, as well as inplementing the Sustainable Development Goals take concrete steps such as this one," said Prime Minister Borissov.


Prime Minister Borisov, concluded his speech with a reference to the heroism of Bulgarian citizens, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, prominent public figures and intellectuals during the Second World War, when they saved almost 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from deportation to the death camps. "The story of the salvation of the Bulgarian Jews gets across a strong message - humanity and courage can defeat power and recklessness and save human life. The Bulgarian example must be shared to give courage to many people around the world," said the Prime Minister said. He was categorical that the return of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, disrespect for the right to life of any living being on racial, ethnic or other grounds should not be allowed. "We know that this is possible and has already happened", concluded Boyko Borissov.