This year Liberal International met, after two years of zoom meetings because of Covid, in Sofia for our 75th congress. There were over 200 attendees from over 50 countries. At the welcome reception, Hakima el Haité president of LI, was very happy to see so many friends again after such a long and difficult time. Climate change, conflicts, pandemic, democratic recession, authoritarian resurgences as she told us, are changing our world! The theme of this congress was “Reconstructing a Liberal World Order” a very appropriate slogan. Today a devastating war is happening at the back door of Europe. The devastation brought by Vladimir Putin’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine goes beyond the borders of Ukraine threatening energy security in Europe and food security in a great deal of the world. Millions of people especially in the most vulnerable countries in Africa are at the risk of hunger as president Hakima el Haité said.
During the opening reception there was also the introduction of a new Serbian politician, member of parliament and president of the Free citizens Movement, Pavle Grbović. It is the first time in several years that Serbia will have liberals present in Parliament.
During the meeting on Friday morning, Sir Graham Watson, former leader of the ALDE party and member of the European Parliament gave us food for thought with his ideas about legal values, peace, freedom and democracy. With the war in Ukraine and opposition about the handling of the pandemic, we see the rule of law is under great pressure.
The Russian opposition voice from Dr. Grigory Yavlinsky, founding member of Yabloko, who reached us by zoom, made us aware that supplies have been stopped to Russia. Especially lack of medical items are causing people to die at the moment. 20% of the Russians do not agree with the present regime. The totalitarian system is based on their own former ideas and no reforms. The present system resulted out of the collapse of the iron curtain. The opposition did not agree with the system but realized too late that the system meant no freedom of the press, justice by fear and no protests are possible. The consequences are visible all over the world. President Hakima el Haité also confirmed these facts and wondered how far is Poetin prepared to go.
Later our member Lorna Marsden was appointed Patron of Liberal International as well as Robert Woodthorpe Browne.
In the evening we had dinner in the Vrana Palace of H.M. King Simeon II of Bulgaria. The Hans van Baalen Medal of Liberalism, in commemoration of our dearly missed president of honour, was awarded to H.M King Simeon II of Bulgaria, the last reigning Bulgarian monarch.
Ilhan Kyuchyuk, co-president of ALDE and politician from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) in Bulgaria received the medal to give it to Simeon at a later time.
On the Saturday all the resolutions were discussed and adopted.
- INLW submitted the resolution: “Preventing and Combating Violence against women & girls and unpaid and underpaid care work”.
- US Supreme Court Decision, an urgency resolution submitted by INLW and SFP.
Urgency Resolution on Securing Freedom for Vladimir Kara-Murza, a renowned Russian journalist who earlier survived two poisonings and now is convicted to many years of prison with a risk of death, was submitted by the Canadian group. Also the re-elections took place with a 100% of votes for Hakima el Haité as LI President. Ruth Richardson, Khadija el Morabit, Jayanthi Devi Balaguru and Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk were all re-elected in their commissions for a new period.