Your excellencies, distinguished guests and colleagues,
It is a great pleasure to welcome you all on behalf of the University of Bucharest. It is an honor for us to host the congresses of Black Sea Universities Network and Balkan Universities Association and, in doing that, to have among us the distinguished representatives of so many academic organizations from our region.
University of Bucharest has a long tradition of promoting both fundamental education and applied training and research. Yet, at the same time, our university has been a constant venue for promoting the social dialogue in the Romanian society as well as the fundamental human values and principles of the open society.
In other words, we offer an ideal setting for an international event focused on “Dialogue and Cooperation in the Black Sea and Balkan Regions”, like the one we launch now.
Values are important and acting according to them is even more important.
That is why we consider that in addition to the academic networks, the scientific performances or the quality of the educational programs the strength of our university comes from our organizational culture that considers values and principles such as social integrity, public responsibility and academic freedom more important than anything else.
For instance, what makes us proud is the fact that most of the public protests and social movements in Romania during and after Romanian Revolution have started in the University’s Square and that the University and its professors and students have always been on the frontline of the Romanian reform, anti-corruption and public accountability movements.
On February 24, when Russian invaded Ukraine, UB was the first Romanian University that issued a public statement against the aggression in the very first day of the War. And by the end of the same first day, at our initiative, all the rectors of CIVIS, our European Alliance, endorsed a declaration condemning the aggression of Ukraine. And then University of Bucharest immediately got engaged in an entire range of activities from providing shelter, food and support at the border, to helping international students refugees in Bucharest.
Our main drive was to defend humanitarian values, our main aim was to support those in need, the victims. We have stand up and responded, as we should, to the test of our times.
Dear guests and colleagues,
In this part of the world, our understanding and approach to the public life cannot ignore the legacies and traumas of our millenary history. That rich experience and its historical memory is – we like it or not – part and parcel of who we are and what we represent.
We, in this part of the world, have understood from experience that universities maybe an extraordinary vehicle for social progress. But at the same time, we have understood that universities may lose their autonomy and remains just a working part of a regime, a tool which produces obedient citizens that will accept and will support injustice and aggression.
We stand together, united and solidary, in defending and expanding our capability to be vehicles for social progress in our region and in the world.
What should be the position taken by us, BSUN and BUA, as organizations and as an intellectual and professional community regarding the current developments in our region?
In the current context of open conflict with unprecedented escalation and dangers, with millions of refugees and thousands of causalities, it is the intellectual, civic and social responsibility of us, the educators and scientists from the Universities of the region, to take a stand.
We have both the responsibility and the capabilities to advance solutions to overcome the current situation, and to take a leadership role in the efforts to secure the peace, stability and development of our region.
The solution to the current crisis has an inherent regional dimension. Sooner or later the stabilization and reconstruction require a systematic, regional effort of coordination and cooperation as well as a solid foundation in local and regional knowledge, using analytical and normative perspectives robustly grounded in the economies and societies of the region.
We consider that especially BSUN is uniquely positioned to provide the knowledge infrastructure and leadership for the efforts to create a regional forum for exchange and development of ideas, visions and policies, for scientific evidence-based decision making, as well as for legitimacy building.
On the long run, we, the universities, should redouble our efforts to create the proper environment where the future democratic leaders of our region will be educated and trained. And those leaders must be educated in the spirit of humanistic universal values but in our universities, in contact with their own local communities, cultures and countries which they must understand, love and respect, in order to future lead, represent and change them for the better.
Raising good leaders with respect for universal democratic and humanistic values but at the same time with a good understanding and respect of local specificities and cultures is also the best way of promoting regional and global dialogue and cooperation and a long-lasting peace in our region, in Europe and in the World.
Distinguished guests and friends,
I hope that this international event will contribute to a stronger academic cooperation between the University of Bucharest and your universities.
On behalf of the University of Bucharest I would like to wish you all a fruitful conference and a pleasant and memorable stay in Bucharest.