Chișinău, Moldova, 30 June 2016 – Today the first ever Congress of the Association of Constitutional Justice of the Countries of the Baltic and Black Sea Regions (BBCJ) took place, bringing together nearly 120 participants from over 10 countries.
The Constitutional Court of Moldova had the honour to host the first ever Congress of BBCJ, entitled “The role of constitutional courts in the protection of democratic values.” The event was attended by high representatives of the Venice Commission, Presidents and judges of BBCJ member courts, the Secretary General of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – GUAM, as well as international legal experts in constitutional justice.
Welcome speeches were delivered by Moldova’s President and Speaker of the Parliament, who referred to constitutional identity of the state and the imperative of protecting the independence of constitutional courts. In view of Moldova’s top officials, the aims of BBCJ have an important role in safeguarding international and regional peace and security.
Mr Alexandru Tănase, President of the Constitutional Court of Moldova, stated it was an honour for Moldova’s Constitutional Court to host the first BBCJ Congress since its establishment. President Tănase stressed that BBCJ members share many in common. This also includes their Soviet totalitarian past, which had no constitutionalism at all. These states understand the best the need to edify a different fundamental system, where humans are the supreme value and where state’s primary role is to make justice, with Constitutional Courts playing a crucial role in this process. BBCJ’s mission is thus to observe that such values as rule of law, democracy and human rights are not devoid of content, and that member Constitutional Courts would enjoy independence in carrying out its mission.
Mr George Papuashvili, President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, addressed a congratulatory message to the members of BBCJ on the occasion of the first ever Congress. Referring to the Court hosting the event – Constitutional Court of Moldova – underscored the importance of its bold decisions and the support provided to Georgia’s Constitutional Court in the current difficult situation it passes, when it is facing political pressure and its independence is under attack.
Mr Dainius Žalimas, President of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania, greeted the participants and noted that BBCJ members have common roots in a totalitarian regime, a fact which points to the crucial role of the institution of constitutional courts. In this regard, their role is of primary element for the concept of judiciary itself.
He also stated that Lithuania’s Constitution provides sufficient safeguards for the independence of the Constitutional Court of Lithuania. The only exception were the austerity measures during the financial world crises, which resulted in a reduced remuneration of constitutional judges’ work. Nevertheless, the Court continues to promote the principle of independence of the Constitutional Court as an inherent element of the concept of its existence.
Mr Yurii Baulin, President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, thanked BBCJ member courts for their support to Ukraine in the complex process of defending state’s independence and territorial integrity. Within this process, he underlined the extremely complicated role of the Constitutional Court, a fact which determines the need to further strengthen the independence of the Court. In his view, “the independence of a judge of the Court is not a privilege, but a necessity and a guarantee in exercising constitutional competences.”
Speeches were also delivered by other members of Constitutional Courts of Latvia, Romania, Poland, and Turkey; President of the Supreme Court of Cyprus, Mr Myron Nicolatos; the renown constitutionalist, Prof. Rainer Arnold of the German academia; as well as Prof. Jakub Stelina of the Gdansk University of Poland. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe was represented by Ms Hanna Suchocka, Honorary President of the Venice Commission and Former Prime Minister of Poland.
The Association of Constitutional Justice of the Countries of the Baltic and Black Sea Regions (BBC) was established in 2015 on the initiative of the Constitutional Court of Moldova and the Constitutional Court of Lithuania. The Association also includes as members the Constitutional Court of Georgia and the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.
The Association aims at promoting the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the independence of constitutional courts, implementing rule of law principles, and enhancing the exchange of experience between its members. The Constitutional Court of Moldova holds the presidency of BBCJ in the current year, as the state initiating the Declaration on the Establishment of BBCJ.