A very warm welcome to the IFLRY Executive Committee and Extraordinary General Assembly in St. Petersburg, 2010. And extraordinary it will be!
Thanks to our very effective and hard-working hosts, understanding sponsors and a good show of delegates I am sure that the next 48 hours will be fruitful, tiring and exhilirating.
As you know, we don’t pick our venues randomly. Over the past years our statutory events have been crossing the globe in our mission to globalize freedom. From Singapore to The Hague, from Kiev to Buenos Aires and from Dallas to Sarajevo, we have now reached the pearl of the North called St Petersburg. Of course, i mean both the city and the hotel.
This is a place where liberalism is keeping a foothold in the local branch of the Yabloko, or the apple party. With holding our event here, we also hope that we can provide you the support that you need in the promotion of freedom and democracy. The apple that was so tasty in the nineties, has been shaken from the tree of power, kicked and spit on, and is on the verge of total erosion. Let us help you nurture the seeds which are still present in many of the inspiring young people working for Yabloko around the country, so that it will grow to become a big tree with juicy apples that people from around the region and abroad can have bites in.
Metaphors apart, the situation is really quite grim. One and a half year ago I intended to join an opposition march in moscow but we were chased by the military police from underground station to underground station. A rat race it was. And it doesn’t feel like it is getting better. Less than a week ago demonstrations were repressed and people jailed up, including the well-known liberal opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. The authorities saying that squares outside of the cities are sufficient for the free expression of dissent, is similar to someone saying that the voting for your Popstar or Idol favorite is sufficient for democracy.
The international family of young liberals is there to be of support to those who use violence and repression to silence the voices that speak about freedom and democracy. This is what we call liberal solidarity and is one of our main objectives. We also make sure that our members, from whatever background the come, get the latest insights into managing organizations and promoting liberal politics. This is what we did for example at the seminar we just had and that is another objective. The final objective is the development and dissemination of ideas and policies to tackle international political challenges. That’s among other what we will be doing here.
In order to reach these objectives we come together in Executive Committees and General Assemblies to decide on the direction of our Federation and the various methods we use.
I am looking forward to discussing with you these two days about how to bring our organization forward. We need to be ahead of the curve and make sure we become more dynamic and productive every day. We need to work as hard as possible to make sure that we are in the lead and that socialists, conservatics or any of such malicious groups remain far behind us in spirit and ideas. It is time to start kicking butts, both here in Russia and abroad. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you and let’s rock!