Interdependence Day is a praiseworthy and uplifting event that deserves to be celebrated and supported wholeheartedly. So I congratulate the organisers for their initiative and I send my warmest greetings to all present.
I am only sorry I cannot be with you for the whole day, but I am glad to say I will be present for some time later on this evening.
On this day, our first thoughts must be for the victims of the tragic events of a few days ago in North Ossetia. Those events bring home to us the dramatic need for tolerance and peace in our societies. They remind us how important it is to work for peace and fraternity among peoples.
Interdependence Day has a twofold significance and meaning here: first, as a day of remembrance; and second, by forcing us to reflect on our common future and on how to avoid giving in to the temptation of hatred and violence, and instead on how to bolster cooperation and solidarity.
Today, more than ever, we must not simply remain on the defensive, comforted by a false, superficial analysis. We need to seek the real causes of these tragic events and tackle them at their roots.
It would be a terrible mistake to underestimate the potential contagion of such violence. And while we need to respond to violence and terrorism swiftly and vigorously, we also need to find long-term answers to them. Because our hopes of putting an end to such outrages once and for all lie in the long term.
The times demand we be capable of far-sightedness. They demand we be capable of overcoming the divisions that have beset our past, and they demand we respond to the requirements of this point in history by developing a new, mature project for our common future.
We need vision and powerful ideas. And interdependence is one such powerful idea, because it transcends technicalities, raising issues that go beyond the Union’s institutional architecture or the way it is run. Interdependence is much more important and essential, raising the issue of the principles and values that should guide our action.
Fifty years ago, Europe’s Founding Fathers embarked on an incredibly ambitious project and set in motion the process of European integration that has brought us the European Union of today. They knew there was no alternative to integration and interdependence, to the pooling of resources for the benefit of all. They knew that prosperity cannot last so long as poverty is allowed to fester and thrive.
European integration began in the aftermath of what is probably mankind’s greatest tragedy—World War II. Thanks to the Founding Fathers’ intuition and courage, we have enjoyed fifty years of peace. The latest enlargement that has embraced central, southern and eastern Europe has unified the continent, putting an end to decades of artificial partition. It is the first time in our history that the process of unification is carried out peacefully, democratically, and with the direct participation of Europe’s citizens. And we know these are not just empty words, because the European integration process has made a tangible, concrete contribution to peace and this is clear to all.
But there are now new threats hanging over Europe and the whole world. The situation we face is dramatic and unprecedented. It calls for intuition, courage and initiative—just like half a century ago.
We know what the way forward demands: unity in diversity, dialogue among cultures, the pooling of resources and joint action. We need to promote these values globally, for there is no alternative if stability, development and peace are to be safeguarded.
At the same time, we need to think long and hard about the sort of institutional architecture and governance that can best serve the spirit of dialogue and peace. We need to ensure that economic, social and political interdependence is constantly promoted through effective and strengthened multilateralism. We need men and women of goodwill who are committed to economic and social progress for the common good. We need new forms of partnership between public institutions and civil society that can breathe new enthusiasm and life into the making and implementing of public policy. We need to strengthen civic participation to ensure our democracies are sound and healthy.
Participation gives people at national, European and international level a role in shaping their own future; it gives people the feeling that they are part of a larger community, that peace and prosperity are a shared goal and a joint endeavour.
Today we must not only speak out but also effectively act in favour of revitalising the political and social alliance that is the basis for positive, fruitful interdependence among cultures, peoples and States. In favour of a more peaceful, united and cohesive world.
I extend my best wishes to you all for a resoundingly successful day.