The 2009 PES Council in Sofia ended. Three intense days came to an end last Friday under a powerful fog that covered Sofia. The last speeches, especially those of Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev (in a perfect English) and the one of Poul Nyrup Rasmusen were particularly brilliant and let us, European socialists, the impression that the European socialist project, and PES, is maturing every day.
The fact that it was the Bulgarian Socialist Party the ones with the responsibility of organizing this important reunion, after the Portuguese socialists in 2006, allowed Europe the opportunity to see, in two consecutive years, both ends of Europe, the western and the eastern. It allowed also experiencing the impact of Europe in a new incoming country facing one of most successful cases of European successful integration.
Bulgaria, in a sentence, reminds me Portugal before we entered the European Union: high hopes, eager to work and to be integrated, and a enthusiastic vitality that catches you. The Bulgarians, so it seemed, are humble people, honest and with a high civic sensibility. Remember that they lived under a totalitarian regime until the 90’s, and that their transitional process was not an easy one (as most of former communist countries). Even thought, they managed to maintained a certain positive civic attitude, appreciated in the fact that people in the streets, although their humility, are persecuting their regular live, with the difficulties that exists in today’s societies. They didn’t turn to crime, or begging or prostitutions, at least from what I could see in the city of Sofia. Another example can be drawn from the public transports. You don’t see any control in the trams, for example, and the tickets are supposed to be validated in some kind of manual machine, most certainly still a remembrance of soviet times. Although all this easiness, that in some European capitals would be taken as an invitation to free-ride, the Bulgarians, young and old, validated their tickets, in a prove of civism and ethics behaviour.
Even though, they still have a long way to go. They have their country to rebuild and it is very important that there is a socialist at the elm, because, as we see in other former communists countries, It is very important to maintain a strong social preoccupation in order to create a balanced society; and not that wild capitalists experiences, with high social cleavages, that we sometimes see in the eastern Europe countries.
The people, the council organization, Sofia and the weather, that allow us to have more time to talk between ourselves and to have more face time with leaders, delegates and guests. People, activists, politician, new friend, old friendships consolidated. The guys from Rainbow Rose. The Portuguese delegation and staff. Not because of my nationality, but Paulo Pisco intervention on the environment was one of the best ones the Council eared (It was recorded and showed here), and Gisela and Hugo on the PES Staff team. Hugo as a non-stop guy, always supervising and controlling; and Gisela, in the backstage, dealing with the internet, logistics and all (you can see her interview here). It was also very interesting to met most of PES Staff and be able to see Europe in the making as all these nationalities, all these young, highly motivated men and women working towards the same goal: to build in Europe a Social Experience that would transform the old continent in the best place to be, on Earth.
The weather, again, now because it didn’t allowed the Council to have the dimension we wanted, as much more than half the predicted attendance never showed up. For the activists this had a bigger impact as from the more than 100 expected, 10 turned out, 4 Bulgarians. The taxi drivers, as I explained here. I had another experiences, that I’ll talk in the next post, that sustained the impression that they are definitely a class of their own, with the necessary exceptions.
It was my fist abroad experience with the PES family. I had been in Oporto, but as I am Portuguese, it was more as an internal thing… To be able to meet so many bright people, so many people with shared interests was worth wile. Then, discover a new country, with so many traditions and history; a country proud of himself, with is eyes in the future and with high hopes on the European project, was such a wonderful feeling, that I would do it again tomorrow.
And Sofia is such an interesting city. I have to come back, at least to try out their slopes…
So, if not soon, I’ll see you in Madrid.