political revue


Year XXXV, 1993, Number 3 - Page 164




Will We Be Able to Renounce Winning?
I am pleased to have the opportunity to address this international convention sponsored by the European Federalist Movement, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation. I should like to salute the illustrious speakers, the Rector of the University which is hosting us, the various governmental authorities, the organisers and all participants.
As the title of the general theme “Europe called to account” highlights, the period our continent is currently going through is undoubtedly a crucial one. We face an authentic historic moment, which was set off almost without warning towards the end of 1989; this coincided with a process of unification that has been underway for a number of years, at least in Western Europe.
The current period has nevertheless revealed itself, and continues to reveal itself, as a detonator of unforeseeable effects, resulting in an endless stream of serious events, among which I should like to recall the persistent crisis underway in ex-Yugoslavia. We find ourselves in a previously inexperienced situation of liberty, but the issue about which direction this liberty is headed in, and should take in the future, is becoming ever more insistent and unavoidable.
At the same time, this liberty has been followed by a period of desert, with all the trials and temptations typical of this condition: from East and West we gather together in an effort to construct a “common home” and yet the rules of such co-habitation are often not clear or commonly shared; the process of refounding the states, and of laying the foundations of civilised co-habitation in its fullness is still underway; old ethnic and cultural differences and rivalries, soothed or trodden down, but left unresolved during Communist rule, are resurfacing with vehemence, and an investigation into the value and meaning of nations and their cultures and the limitations to, and overcoming of, resurgent nationalisms is inescapable.
The dramatic warning of ex-Yugoslavia.
I have already had the opportunity, at the international meeting held in Milan in May on the theme “Christian-inspired political commitment in the building of the new Europe”, to express the opinion that the most dramatic sign of the difficult situation which Europe is living through, and of the challenges which await it, is the absurd conflict which continues to unfold in ex-Yugoslavia. In a part of Europe extremely close to us, we are in fact faced with a problem of nationalities and ethnic groups which are unable to find a modus vivendi acceptable to all sides. At the same time there is a latent conflict between two European traditions, the Western and Eastern ones, to which is added a confrontation between the old Europe and Islam.
From this emerges the real challenge we must all face, which can be summarised in a question: not that about who will win between East and West, or North and South, but rather that whether will we all be able to renounce winning, looking for a new integration which transforms conflict into a competition of mutual service and openness between diverse cultures, in a human and citizen-sized grouping, in a large federation, the fatherland of many small nations and cultures?
This, in my opinion, is the “calling to account” which European citizens are presented with: and with regard to this “calling to account” the choice between federalism and nationalism is undoubtedly a key aspect.
The Ventotene Manifesto, 1941.
In this context I want to raise the far-sightedness of the Ventotene Manifesto, when, in 1941, it looked towards the creation of a solid international state as the central task and conceived of the overcoming of national power as the instrument for realising international unity. This group of anti-fascists who, towards the end of August 1943, gathered in Milan around Altiero Spinelli, in the house of a Waldensian, Mario Alberto Rollier, in order to create the MFE along the inspiring lines of the Manifesto, committed themselves to struggle (over and above ideological differences and biased considerations) for the European Federation, considered precisely as the necessary instrument for the definitive pacification of the peoples of Europe, and a forebearer of pacification for the entire human race.
At that time the war was at its height, nationalism and racism ruled, throughout Europe there was violence and death, Milan was devastated and razed by the terrible carpet bombings which, specifically in that tragic August of 1943, had caused destruction the like of which had never been seen before.
Now, at a distance of 50 years, the great arrival point indicated by the founders of European federalism and by the other founding fathers of Europe has not yet been reached. There are other forms of devastation, death, destruction and conflict which mark our times, and even the city of Milan. All the same, today, as then, there is cause for hope and to struggle for a more humane, a juster and more pacific form of cohabitation. And I am truly pleased that Milan was chosen as the venue of your international convention, and hope that it may be an inspiration and sign of rebirth in this city which is experiencing a difficult period, for which undoubtedly it has to take full responsibility.
Among all the highly negative aspects of our contemporary situation is the resurgence of exacerbated nationalisms, which are dragging many peoples down into a painful spiral of violence. New and similar pressures towards disintegration, presaging exclusiveness, antagonism and rejection, could still explode in East and West and would cause us to return once again to a past which we do not wish to see again. Hence each and everyone of us must warn of the need and urgency to distinguish satisfactorily between nationalism and patriotism; to separate between positive and negative national sentiments, giving a suitable interpretation to the idea of “national identity;” to recognise and defend the rights of minorities against a tendency to any slave-like uniformity; to search for formulas, which, overcoming the immediate identification between “state” and “nation”, enable different peoples to live in a single state framework and see their rights and identity fully safeguarded.
On this subject I should like to cite the Final Declaration (no. 10) of the Synod of Bishops for Europe, celebrated at Rome in 1991. According to this statement, recognising that “the national differences must not disappear, but rather be maintained and nurtured as the historically developed basis of European solidarity”, that “the national identity itself is not achieved if not through opening to other peoples and by means of solidarity with them” and that “conflicts must be resolved by means of negotiation and not through the use of violence”, it is also necessary to commit ourselves to drawing up international law proposals that are able to safeguard the value of nations without falling into the excesses of nationalisms.
Continuing the process of European integration.
The last 50 years however have not passed in vain. The process of European integration has in fact allowed the overcoming of ancient and firmly rooted conflicts and has pacified the peoples who were involved in them; the frontiers, which once were almost sacrosanct as the enduring signs of different and opposing national identities, are losing their ideological and symbolic connotations and separate increasingly less the peoples of the European Community. The same sovereignty of the states, whose limitation is necessary for the construction of a European union according to the correct principles of federalism, has undergone revision. The most innovative meaning of the experience of the European Community rests in its capacity to substitute for the states in regulating relevant social relationships and hence to bring about, albeit embryonically, limitations to their sovereignty; significantly, we are witnessing for the first time in history the presence of institutions that are capable of adopting legislative acts which, within the member states, have the same effectiveness as internal laws, and which the latter are even unable to alter.
On the other hand, it is necessary to recognise that Community integration is still in large part a process between states; there are not inconsiderable steps to take in order to arrive at a Europe of peoples and of citizens, and hence at an international organisation which could be an example and an incentive to global co-habitation. In this perspective, I should like to recall once more that if European unity can be achieved, it will be neither on account of geography, nor of history, nor of language and not even due to the convergence of different emerging interests. Unity will rather be the fruit of the free will of peoples, which in its turn presupposes and requires an authentic moral maturity. It is hence necessary that there is action to achieve an authentic and widespread democracy, where the free consensus of citizens is motivated by idealistic values and the discovery and arousal of common interests, that is of a common European good; and where the institutional instruments, even at the continental level, are the authentic expression of popular sovereignty.
To Europeans, whose common citizenship the Maastricht Treaty recognises, it is necessary to guarantee real citizen participation in the great choices of Europe, ending the sensation that the European Union is simply a matter of summits, that it does not concern ordinary people. Only in this way will a political grouping based on respect for people and groups, but at the same time on the willingness of people and groups to undergo sacrifices for the common good of the entire continent, be possible.
We should not forget that continuing along this path, and by consolidating federal structures, the European Union will be even better able to welcome those European countries that aspire to join it. Inside they will be able to find a guarantee for their democratic stability and the definitive defeat of nationalism. And all this can and must have a wider impact, on a world scale. If, as John XXIII recalled thirty years ago in his encyclical Pacem in terris, to achieve peace on earth public powers capable of operating in an effective way at a world level are needed (no. 45), we are then called on to aim at the creation of a democratic government of the world, which will ensure the pre-eminence of the rule of law over that of force, and the solution of controversies by pacific means. Europe, in which the national state with its ideologies and its limitations arose, can and must offer the example of a real supernational government and of an authentic international democracy. Its historic mission comprises also this, the realisation of a further stage towards the establishment (looked forward to by Vatican Council II in the encyclical Gaudium et spes) of “a universal public authority, recognised by all, which is endowed with effective power to guarantee to all peoples security, the observance of justice and respect for rights” (no. 82).
The hope with which I close my talk is that, today as yesterday, there will not lack men and women, young people and adults, who share such ideals and who are willing to assume full responsibility for the construction of a Europe in which every person, every people, and every nation can live in complete and harmonious peace.




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