The President of Bulgaria appealed for substantial progress in fighting poverty, ending conflicts and preserving the environment under the overall objective of safeguarding human dignity as he took the podium at the high-level debate at the opening of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly today. “I firmly believe that safeguarding human dignity is the ultimate goal of the United Nations as indeed of any genuine democracy,” Rossen Plevneliev said as he spoke on a wide range of topics as one of the first speakers in the annual General Debate.Welcoming stepped-up effort to forge consensus on a new paradigm for sustainable development – the theme for the Assembly session – Mr. Plevneliev compared the current model to a “carpet in which some colours, threads and stitches were missing making it look unfinished, patchy and ragged.” He noted that one billion people remained in extreme poverty while resource depletion remained irrational and climate change threatened the future.“We, the countries of the world, must mobilize all available means and resources to finish what we have started in order to achieve truly sustainable results for humanity and our planet,” Mr. Plevneliev said.Noting also that conflicts continue to rage and human rights continue to be violated, he said his country has already joined with others in urging the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. He welcomed the framework agreement to control Syria’s chemical weapons, but stressed that the issue should not divert attention from efforts to end the suffering by ending the crisis. His country, not far from Syria, had adopted an emergency plan to assist Syrian refugees both in his country and neighbouring States, he said.Turning to international terrorism, he expressed gratitude for the assistance of other Member States in investigating the deadly July 2012 attack at a Bulgarian airport and he supported finalization of a draft Comprehensive Convention on combating the scourge. Stressing his country’s commitment to UN goals in a variety of areas, he said that the progress of Europe over the past century in creating peace, security and prosperity following ruinous wars – most recently the Balkans – should be taken as example of what can be achieved when neighbours work together. He attached particular importance to the eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy as a way to ensuring peace and stability in the Black Sea and the wider region.