Sir Graham Watson: Europe is our family name, just as out nationalities are our first names

The former MEP and ALDE Party President stressed the need of opposition against nationalism while presenting his book in Sofia

Photo: BGNES Sir Graham Watson taking the stage in Sofia.

Sir Graham Watson, former MEP (1994-2014) and President of the ALDE Party (2011-2015), presented in Sofia, the Bulgarian translation of his 2009 book "Building a Liberal Europe: the ALDE Project", calling on EU countries to not forget that "we all share a common European identity".

In the first decade of the 21st century the Liberal group (known as the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe - ALDE - from 2004) emerged as a powerful third force in the European Parliament, challenging the bi-polar order of Conservatives and Socialists. In his book, Sir Graham Watson, who led the Liberal group from 2002 to 2009, shows how this happened, detailing the Liberal impact on a whole range of policy issues at EU level between 1979 and 2009 and the important linkages with Liberal success at national level. He also concludes that the potential for further growth of the European Liberal centre remains greater than at any point in the last 100 years.

Yet, it is now challenged by rising nationalism not only in his country - the United Kingdom, but EU-wide. He thus noted several times throughout his speech that "we all share a common European identity" and we must oppose nationalist movements. 

"Europe is our family name, just as out nationalities are our first names," Graham reminded the audience in Sofia, praising bloc's efforts towards the European History project. 

"One of the greatest things the European Union has ever tried is the European History Project, which is still ongoing. It is an attempt to write a history book which could be used in schools in every country of Europe. And which is accepted by all nations. A history book in which Germany and France agree on history. A history book in which Croats and Serbs agree on history. Because we all share a common European identity," he said.

Hence, he criticised French President Macron's negative stance on EU's enlargement, describing it as detriment for Europe's unity and prospect.

"EU enlargement is a historic necessity... It is a story that must continue. So we must not let France block the enlargement of our Union to Albania, and to Northern Macedonia, and to any other country that has made the necessary reforms," Sir Graham Watson also stressed in his speech.

Meanwhile, ALDE Vice-President Ilhan Kyuchuk, who was also a moderator of the event, stressed that for the challenges to be tackled, Europe needs to build a new liberal concept for its progress to be possible.

"More than ever, we must view liberalism as a platform of values from a new model. And Sir Graham Wilson's book comes at the right time, reminding us that the life of organised liberalism in Europe is called into question," Kyuchuk said.

Among the other participants that took the stage were Mustafa Karaday, Chairman of the Bulgarian DPS party; Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria (2001-2005); Daniel Kadik, Executive Director of the European Liberal Forum; Katalin Cseh, MEP and Vice-President of the Renew Europe party group: Daniel Berg, Vice-President of ALDE Party; Radu Mihail. USR Senator; Petya Dyulgerova from the Freedom Foundation "Friedrich Nauman", Adrian Lazara Vasquez from the Spanish Party Ciudadanos and Antoaneta Asenova, member of the Bureau of Liberal Youth (LYM).

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