The city of Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria awards members of law enforcement in Bulgaria and all over the world who have done outstanding efforts to combat criminality and corruption. The award is in the memory of italian mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone who was assassinated in 1992.

Dear Mrs Vice Mayor,
Your Excellency Ambassador,
Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for the hospitality of the city of Blagoevgrad shown to ECAD and for inviting me here to attend the award in memory of Giovanni Falcone.

My name is Erik Leijonmarck and I am the secretary general of European Cities Action Network for Drug Free Societies (ECAD) which this city, Blagoevgrad, is a member.

ECAD was founded in 1994 by cities that wanted stronger actions on illicit drugs and reject legalization of them. Since then, our cities have worked very hard to address the size of their drug problems through concerted actions on drugs by investing in prevention, treatment and control.

Today that fight is more important than ever. The challenges we are facing are twofold:

The first challenge comes from commercial interests who invest to make drugs legal, accepted and promoted to young people, much like alcohol and tobacco is today. With commercialized cannabis in North America, parents across the world are now facing an assault on their young ones from commercials, from popular culture and from wall street aimed at sparking addiction in the young vulnerable brain.

Parents need to be vigilant on the allure of drugs, reinforced by commercialization, for youngster. Parents need to be close with their children and have a strong communicative bond with them, embodied by mutual trust and respect. Parents need to be monitoring their children and know what they are up to and with whom their children spend time.

The second challenge comes from the mafia and the traffickers in drugs. Society cannot cede ground to corruption, violence or threats to the rule of the law. Those who do their part in this fight, prosecutors, law enforcement, judges, customs officers and others, must be remembered and honored as they truly are heroes to the rest of us.

Let the example set by Giovanni Falcone ripple through history and make a precedent for all of us to keep our vigilance up and spirits high.

I want to thank the city of Blagoevgrad for keeping the flame burning and Giovanni Falcones memory vivid.
Thank you.