Participants in the Balkan Constitutional Forum in Sofia signed on Friday a Memorandum on the establishment of the Forum. With the signing of the Memorandum, in addition to the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, the constitutional jurisdictions of Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Turkiye and Montenegro officially joined the Forum. The Presidents of the Constitutional Courts of Bulgaria, Turkiye, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania signed the document.
The Forum will be a venue for the exchange of best practices, ideas and experience in constitutional justice between the member jurisdictions through the organization of conferences and other events in the field of constitutional justice.
Constitutional courts have established themselves over the past decades as the main guarantors of the rule of law and not just the constitution, said Justice Minister Atanas Slavov during his opening speech at the first annual meeting of the Balkan Constitutional Forum.
He noted that the constitutional courts in the European Union (EU) are in constant dialogue with the EU Court of Justice, with the other constitutional courts, in order to “make a much clearer and more relevant image of what we call common European values”.
“The rule of law and democracy are our core values,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel said in her address at the Forum.
“The establishment of the Balkan Constitutional Forum and its first annual meeting are a continuation of the good cooperation established between the constitutional courts on the Balkan Peninsula. The Forum goes beyond cooperation, it aims to become a platform for exchange of best practices, ideas, and experiences between the participating constitutional justice jurisdictions. They are the guardians of the fundamental law and play a key role in the implementation of the principle of the rule of law,” Gabriel noted.
Addressing the Forum, European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová said that this discussion will strengthen the rule of law culture. Jourová noted that there are regular debates on the EU rule of law in a number of European institutions.
The EU Vice President said that the purpose of the event was to discuss constitutional and legal issues at European and state levels, as well as the need for harmony between them. She described constitutional law as a charter of values, as constitutional courts in different countries are the defender of last resort of fundamental rights.
Jourova warned that the rule of law should not be taken for granted as it is often subject to attacks. It is the constitutional court which comes forward in such cases.
Attending the forum in Sofia are also Koen Lenaerts – President of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and Marko Bošnjak – Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights. Constitutional magistrates from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Romania, North Macedonia, Turkiye, Croatia and Montenegro are also attending the meeting.