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Dear European Democrat Students,

It is a pleasure for me to contribute to this special edition of BullsEye, which marks both the 60th anniversary of EDS and the 30th anniversary of your magazine.

This last year was difficult for all of us, but it was particularly difficult for students all across Europe. With schools and universities closed for months, you were deprived of the most precious occasions of socialising, human contact, and personal growth. It must have taken a heavy toll on you, I am well-aware of that.

Even now, as we slowly – and cautiously – emerge from this crisis, we are faced with a situation that is completely new to us all. The past months have shaken our beliefs and certainties. The only thing we can be sure of is that we are embarking on a new journey, full of challenges but also of opportunities: it is up to us to decide whether we will allow ourselves to be dominated by the fear of challenges, or if we seize with hope the opportunities we are offered.

Like our Founding Fathers after WWII, we also need to put aside all divisions and hesitancies, and resolutely turn our eyes towards the future, to build – from the ashes of the pandemic – a new Europe, one that will promote sustainable and inclusive growth, one that will fight climate change without letting our industries and the most vulnerable of our citizens pay the highest price, one that will lead the digital transformation in a humane manner, and one that will fight to preserve its values against all those who seek to undermine them.

When we support our Belarusian friends and all those who fight for their freedom, when we stand up to Russia’s aggressive policies, when we counter China’s attempts to expand its authoritarian rule across the world, then we are truly ourselves. Because Europe as we know it will not exist without democracy, without the rule of law, without a vibrant civil society, without respect for others, without the freedom for people to choose their own destiny.

All this can be achieved only if our European Union is led by a strong, determined and a united centre-right. It is therefore with hope that I address you. Because you are the future of our political family. And I believe that – wherever your paths may lead you – you will carry on our tradition of authenticity, of responsibility, of good governance, of respect for your opponents and of pursuit of the common good.

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Ivan Botoucharov
Ivan has proud Bulgarian roots and has been fortunate to live and study in Bulgaria, the USA, Italy and the UK. He works as an Executive at Colliers (Global Top 3 Commercial Real Estate), where he leads the team managing Digital Innovation in Europe, Middle East and Africa, which includes 150 offices in 42 countries. Ivan has studied at universities in the UK (UEA and LMU) and the USA (UCLA), and holds a full Chartered status from the Institute of Marketing, granted by authority of The Queen’s Privy Council. During and after his studies Ivan co-founded and led OneEurope, which became Europe’s largest citizens media under his tenure. In the course of his EDS career Ivan has been the head of the UK delegation since 2017 as well as 1st Vice-Chair with a historical record number of votes. He currently serves as the Secretary General of EDS. Ivan is the Chair of the UK organisation in EDS - the Young Conservative European Forum. He also serves on the Board of Executives in their parent organisation, which enjoys the support of 70 Conservative Members of Parliament and the House of Lords.