We are proud to announce that the Fourth Edition of the Balkan Legal Forum (BLF) was successfully held in Bucharest, Romania, on 25-27 October 2006. The Forum was run jointly by the European Forum of the International Bar Association and the National Association of the Romanian Bars. There were 174 registered participants.
Mr Damian Simeonov, Partner with Borislav Boyanov & Co., was a Speaker at the Forum’s session Intellectual Property: “Trademark Protection in Europe and the Enlargement 2007”. The topic of his speech was “Parallel Imports”.
Our Managing Partner, Mr Boyanov, who is a Founder of the Balkan Legal Forum and a Co-Chair of the European Forum of the International Bar Association, made the following opening address:
Dear Mr. President of the International Bar Association, Mr. President of the National Association of the Romanian Bars, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and privilege not only to greet you on behalf of the European Forum of the IBA but also to share with you some important aspects of this event.
Do you know what is the subtitle of the famous book by Misha Glenny, The Balkans? It is Nationalism, War and the Great Powers. That was exactly the atmosphere in the region when we had our first Balkan Legal Forum in Sofia back in 2000. At its closing dinner, many people had tears in their eyes. In an area still smelling of blood there we were, together, Serbs and Croats, Macedonians and Albanians, Greeks and Turks. And we were working together and enjoying ourselves.
In 2004, at one of the events during the third edition of the BLF, the President of the IBA at that time, Ambassador Emilio Cardenas, was watching the table next to ours and asked me who the people at it were. These were my fellow partners from The South East Europe Legal Group (SEE Legal). I answered, Oh, these are my colleagues from Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Turkey and Romania. Emilio was impressed and said: Boris, this is difficult to believe. You are a prominent model for your politicians. Without any doubt, the establishment of SEE Legal as a group of leading national law firms from the region is one of the very fruitful practical results coming out of the initiative propounded by the BLF.
The idea behind the BLF was aimed at elevating the economic processes in the region by integrating a vanguard of the business lawyers of SEE. For the first time it was propounded by us at the Eastern European Forum session during the annual IBA conference in Barcelona in 1999. It is the IBA and its creative institutional atmosphere and fertile interpersonal communication which adopted, enhanced and made a way for the establishment of this Forum. That is why I would like to express my gratitude to the IBA and those officers who firmly supported us in the beginning: Heinz Lober, Tomasz Wardynski, Martin Solc, Stephen Denyer, Dianne Kempe (President of the IBA).
For the last three editions of the BLF, we had 637 registered participants from 29 countries altogether. All of them highly estimated this event not only because of its quality but, I think, mostly because of its spirit and the idea behind. Addressing the second and third editions of the Forum, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, qualified it as a “prestigious and highly practical working conference”.
That is why this unique combination of private initiative and the IBA’s and local bars’ institutional involvement, proving to be a very effective form at every level, has been already promoted by the IBA as a model for similar events.
From the very beginning, we had the idea of moving this newly born child through the region of South East Europe. And we are very pleased that the first country we have decided for it to go to after Bulgaria is the new EU member – Romania.
Our region has changed considerably over the last six years and it is different today. The political stability and transparency (supported by NATO and EU membership of some of the countries), the stable economic growth and the increasing role of the rule of law create a climate attractive for both investors to invest and for local people to live and work in their own countries. And we are again together – to discuss topics of cross-jurisdictional importance and to elevate further this very atmosphere.
As usual, we are honoured to have as speakers the cream of the cream – some of the most prominent lawyers from Europe. We are proud of the fact that the fourth BLF is privileged, again, by the presence of the President of the IBA (Francis, please put this event in your agenda for the future). We are touched by the attitude and hospitality of our hosts and organisers of the event – the National Association of the Romanian Bars, the authorities, law firms and lawyers. I would like to thank you all on behalf of the European Forum of the IBA, on behalf of all the participants and on my own behalf.
I wish you all a successful conference and a pleasant stay in Bucharest.
Borislav T. Boyanov
Co-Chair, European Forum of the International Bar Association
Founder, Balkan Legal Forum