24 Feb, 2021

Meet our leaders: Mustafa Karadayi

In this interview series, we reach out to some of our liberal party leaders to hear their thoughts on liberalism, Europe and beyond. For this month’s interview, we spoke with Mustafa Karadayi, leader of ALDE member party Movement for Rights and Freedoms in Bulgaria to hear what he hopes for 2021, what his plan for Bulgaria’s green economy is and why youth participation in politics matters.

Mustafa Karadayi, what is your hope for 2021?

My hopes for 2021 include good health for all people, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, distributing an effective vaccine, ensuring equal access to health services, having less hunger and stable education, as well as having a social policy that is committed to solving people's problems and peace.

At a more personal level, my causes are clean environment, clean energy, clean food, state of the art technology and the participation of all free and active citizens in the process of government - from taking decisions to implementing them. People should not lose their hope for a better life, for European unification and common security. We must learn from our historical mistakes and work for integration, for high European standards and equality for all European citizens.

And what is the most humbling, exciting or difficult thing you have experienced in your career?

For me, the most exciting and difficult thing in my career was accepting to lead the MRF. The party has played an important role in the recent history of Bulgaria and has been responsible for maintaining peace in the country and in the Balkans, as well as working for the Euro-Atlantic orientation of our country.

The role of the MRF in the fall of totalitarianism in Bulgaria is indisputable, and it has been actively involved in politics since the birth of democracy, in the process of Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union. The main mission of the party is to guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens and to create conditions for a dignified life.

As the founder of Youth MRF, in your opinion, what is needed to enhance youth engagement and political participation, and why does youth participation in politics matter?

Our party's main priority has always been involving young people in politics, engaging them in solving citizens' problems. Moreover, we work very responsibly and seriously on building their profiles.

Our criteria are very high – educational qualifications are necessary, but we also require sufficient theoretical and practical preparedness for the public and governmental processes, as well as active involvement in politics, in policymaking as well as in implementation. The MRF works together with young people and provides them with opportunities to give ideas and realise them

The realisation that the mission of politicians is to serve citizens in order to make their lives better is important for young people. This inspires them, makes them observe, analyse, apply their knowledge and achieve their dreams.

In your recent speech after re-election as the leader of MRF, you spoke at length about the European Green Deal. What is your plan for Bulgaria to build a new green economy?

Bulgaria and Bulgarian politics must adequately respond to the forthcoming hydrogen energy revolution in Europe. Local coal-fired power plants and gas infrastructure need to be adapted to new hydrogen technologies. Natural gas infrastructure needs to be used to transition to fully carbon-neutral energy sources and this needs to be combined with developing hydrogen technologies in the coming years. This would require review, expertise and analysis on the basis of which policy decisions are to be made.

Bulgaria needs to position itself on the geopolitical map with the new hydrogen technologies and work to attract large-scale investments in gas-hydrogen technologies.

With a background in economics, what do you think Europe needs to overcome the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Europe must join forces to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, to make most of the setbacks and turn them into advantages. Communicating from a distance, home offices and online education may become a common practice. The EU's recovery and resilience plan gives us a unique opportunity to modernise our economies, and thus to look towards the next 15-20 years. That is why we simply cannot miss this opportunity.

Bulgaria is one of the countries that most recently joined the EU. What has the membership meant for the country and how do you see the future of European cooperation?

Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union was a national aim and a historic decision that became reality. United Europe, democratic values, solidarity, peace and prosperity - this is what the EU membership of Bulgaria means to us. Europe must be united and strong, it must guarantee equal membership and common security in order to be the guarantor of peace and the future of humanity.

But today's EU also needs to reform so that it can meet the expectations of its own citizens. That is why the Conference on the Future of Europe is crucial. I am convinced that Liberals will once again offer the most reformist ideas and the most innovative approaches. It is time to take a bolder look at the future of the EU: a future that includes the countries of the Balkans as well, so that the European project is fully completed.

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