Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR)
Host: Today we continue with the comments why the European Union (EU) received this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Listen to the opinion of the Bulgarian representative at the highest level in Brussels, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva. She learned the news last night at the airport, returning from Tokyo, where she was at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Our correspondent Diana Chepisheva in the Belgian capital spoke with the Bulgarian EU Commissioner.
Kristalina Georgieva: Now is a difficult time in terms of economy for Europe, but the prize goes to remind us that the creation of the EU will go down in history as one of the most positive events. Of course, for those who work in harsh conditions, in conflicts followed disasters and show the good face of Europe, this award is a great honor. It is a responsibility for us because we need to remember that even when we have problems at home the world expect much of us - to be the bearer of the good, the principles of solidarity, respect for human dignity.
Host: This award, seems to be the only real good news for the EU for a long time. Do you see it as a sign that the world needs from the EU as a guide and model?
Kristalina Georgieva: We are a symbol of unity that brings prosperity. Yes, we have been working hard during these past few years, but let's remember that this crisis did not start with us. It started elsewhere, moved to Europe and showed that we have problems with excessive debt accumulation in governments and the private sector and households, but these are problems that we can deal with. And I would like to add that the last few months show that Europe is able to make difficult decisions and carry them out. I mean the decision of the European Central Bank, which joined together leaders in Europe to establish a monetary union, to create a banking union. So the news of the Nobel Committee is well to remind us that we are stronger when we are together, united. And you're absolutely right, we the Europeans must stand with dignity, because there are many countries around the world, many regions rent / ... / by conflicts and look with envy at what we have achieved, after the horrors of the First and Second World War. Also our neighbors on the Balkans they look with hope of being able to join the EU, so that our peace project continues.
Host: This news comes amid continued forecasts of a possible collapse of the EU, do you think that a similar recognition has the potential to mobilize and consolidate it, something so necessary now?
Kristalina Georgieva: I am convinced that the EU will withstand the difficulties that are now experiencing. What will it be after 10-15-20 years, I do not know, but I know that it will be stronger, that will emerge from the crisis stronger. We see already signs that we make decisions today, which before the crisis were impossible, unthinkable, to say as an example that governments submit their budgets to the EU Commission before they adopt them - it was fiction before the crisis, but now is a reality. So we need to have more faith in ourselves, because our economy, although currently experiencing difficulties, is the largest economy in the world. We have much of which we can gain a foothold in the government that is based on respect for the law. Yes, we have more things to decide let’s say, in a country like Bulgaria. We have a wealth of our human resources, highly educated, highly skilled people. We have the capacity to create, to make discoveries that change the direction of the world. And all this means that Europe will continue to be economically, globally very important factor.
Host: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the euro is the embodiment of peace, do you think the financial markets will also tend to take things like this?
Kristalina Georgieva: Fact that we have a single currency also contributes to the integration process, helping the overall market. And in this sense it is a factor strengthening the EU's integration in the world where we are competing with the giants of China, India, Russia. In this world the fact that we are united, that we are 500 million together certainly makes for a better life and a better future for us all. The euro is one of the elements of integration that makes the functioning of the common market more easily and contributes to Europe's competitiveness. And let's remember though, even after so many difficulties last year the euro exchange rate remains relatively high, that is to say that there is strength in the euro.
Host: Last but not least, I assume you will agree that this award has East European and of course, Bulgarian dimension, and it would hardly be possible without the unification West-East.
Kristalina Georgieva: Europe became stronger with the unification of East and West Germany and the accession of former communist countries to the European Union. And we as one of the newest members of the EU are also part of this process of strengthening the foundations of peace in Europe. Furthermore, we as a Balkan country have a chance to participate in the further expansion of our relations with the Balkan countries. I hope that we will perform this function. Finally I want to say as EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid: We in Europe, even in this difficult time of crisis, we saw how our people are still willing to help the one who are more trouble than us. And in 2010, support for humanitarian aid in Europe was 79%, in 2012 it was 88%. That in itself says that Europeans actually carry a value of this solidarity. Something that made us united and makes us a factor of stability, not only in Europe but in the world. And with that we can all be proud of.