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SPEECH/ 09/520

José Manuel Dur ã o Barroso

P resident of the European Commission

Consolidating bridges towards peace and freedom

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED


10th Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

Berlin, 10 November 2009

Mr Chairman, dear Mikhail Gorbachov,

Dear Co Chairman, Walter Veltroni,

Dear Mayor of Berlin, Mr. Wowereit,

Distinguished Nobel Peace Prize winners,

Your Honourables,

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted and deeply honoured to address such an eminent gathering today. The Nobel Peace Prize is no ordinary award. It shines a light on those who stand tall for peace and human rights and thus lends invaluable support to their cause. Since its creation, this supreme award has firmly established itself as a point of reference throughout the world. It has come to carry real political weight, to a point where it even affords a form of protection to its laureates.

A clear example of this is Aung San Suu Kii, a woman of strong conviction and exceptional courage. All of us hope that she will at long last be given back her freedom of movement and expression and released from her internal exile in Burma. I think you will join me, here today in Berlin, in sending her a deep signal of our support.

I warmly salute all the Nobel Peace Prize winners present here in our midst. I greatly admire and support their resolve in fighting for human dignity, bringing the peoples of the world closer together and working towards peace.

Only yesterday, we have been celebrating the 20 th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. One day later, the World's Nobel Peace Summit in Berlin is sending the political message to the rest of the world: everything is possible, nothing is there to stay for ever: the desire for freedom and peace will always be stronger than walls, prisons, and dictatorships. Contrary to what the so-called "realists" say, things are not just as they are. Things are also what we make of them.

And if I may on a personal basis remember, in the 80's, when people were telling us that a peaceful transition would never be possible in South Africa. At the end of the Apartheid, we have seen that it was possible. And I remember when I met President de Klerk for the first time, he was not yet President, he was Minister of Education and my friends in South Africa told me that man will be able to make the transition and support Nelson Mandela for a free non racial democratic South Africa. And it happened, the "realists" and the "cynics" were not right. And I remember also when in the 80's and the 90's we were fighting for the independence of a very small country East Timor, Timor Leste, in the Pacific, my friend Ramos Horta who cannot be here today with us and others we were working with, the so-called "realists" were telling us it will never possible, it's against Realpolitik, but it was possible. East Timor / Timor Leste became the first independent country of the 21 st century. So this shows that sometimes, it is possible what appears to some as impossible.

Having said this, I want to pay a special tribute to the Chair of this summit, Mikhail Gorbachov. Exactly twenty years ago, you allowed the windows of Europe and the world to open, letting the wind of freedom sweep through. Your immense contribution to that historic event cannot be overstated and will forever guarantee you a place deep in the hearts of Germans and Europeans likewise, in the East and in the West. It was your leadership, your sense of responsibility that eventually met with the East German people's desire for liberty. Europe will never forget the tide of hope unleashed by the fall of the Berlin Wall.

And just now, before me, President Gorbachov asked what we in the European Union we think or want of Russia. First of all, we have a deep respect for your country, for Russia, a country I believe also belongs to the great European civilisation. And what we want for Russia is a strong, stable and prosperous Russia based on the rule of laws and respect for human rights. That is our vision for Russia as a strong partner for Europe.

For twenty years to the day, there has been no better place on earth than Berlin to represent the end of confrontation, injustice and alienation. And likewise, Berlin today perfectly symbolises the values of European integration: peace regained, freedom recovered, reconciliation and solidarity.

Today in Europe, when we speak about solidarity, we all know its Polish expression: Solidarnosc. It is also fair to say that without the courage and leadership of people like Lech Walesa we could not have had the great movement of democracy and unification of the continent. Thank you Lech Walesa for everything that you have done for your country and for Europe.

The European Union and the European project has been a peacemaker for over half a century. Peace was the overarching objective of European integration from day one. In the mind of Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and many others, the idea was to make it through economic integration. But economic integration was a means to an end: peace. You are all experts in peace, so I don't need to persuade you. But we must never stop recalling to our citizens and notably the young generation that peace is and will remain, not the only one, but Europe's most fundamental raison d’être .

Europe has of course brought peace within, to its own Member States. But it has equally brought peace to its neighbours, as we have seen with the return to democracy and freedom of Central and Eastern European countries that became full members of the European Union. And the same we are doing today in the Balkans for instance.

Europe equally has a role to play in bringing stability to the world. Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was also Mayor of Berlin, put it like this when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971: “I accept this honour with a sense of the common ties linking me to all those, wherever they may be, who are doing their utmost to build a peaceful Europe and to make European solidarity serve the cause of world peace.”

This is very important because the great genius of European integration was Jean Monnet. And the last sentence of his memoirs was: "The European integration process is just a model of what can be the world organisation of the future."

Europe is a political project that has no historical precedent. Our model of collective governance based on the rule of law, on justice and on solidarity, has no equal anywhere on earth. The Union has solid experience in creating supranational rules and institutions. For over fifty years now, Europe has been a testing ground for multilateralism.

Today sees the opening of a new chapter, the chapter of a democratic reunified Europe, of a mature Europe ready to defend its values and its interests in the world, building on its valuable political experience and on a model that has proven its merit. A Europe that with the Lisbon Treaty will be more integrated, more democratic and more equipped than ever to cope with today's needs and challenges.

This also means that the European Union must turn its gaze outwards and play its role in bringing peace and stability to the world. It has an increasingly active role to play in the emergence of the new forms of co-operation and partnership that are needed in a worldwide community that has become far more interdependent than ever before .

Europe’s time as a global actor has come. Our greatest strength is the power of our values, at a time when the world is looking for new models to inspire new ideas.

Globalisation has developed spontaneously, without rules nor guiding principles. I firmly believe that Europe should be in the forefront of developing a 'new globalisation', based on the values of human dignity, peace and freedom, and on the principles of global solidarity and global responsibility.

Europe must assume co-leadership in world affairs, not imposing solutions but giving advice, modest advice, on how to tackle the problems in a responsible and global way. Europe can be a fully credible champion of human rights - and development, particularly in the fight against poverty in Africa and elsewhere.

I think it was Mr Muhammad Yunus who has said that one of his dreams was to see the museum of global poverty. The European Union, after all, the world’s largest aid donor, has a special responsibility. We have so many beautiful museums, we should build that museum of global poverty, probably in the last country where we will see the end of hunger. It is simply unacceptable that in 21 st century, when men are able to do so many technological miracles, that there are still people dying because they don't have enough to eat or clean water to drink.

.World peace is under threat today. From regional conflicts, of course, but also from the proliferation of nuclear arms, energy insecurity, ecological disasters, poverty and pandemics. These threats concern every country on this planet and no country can face them on its own. Global challenges call for global solutions, forged jointly in a spirit of partnership and openness.

The fight against climate change is a perfect example of this. I am sure we are all delighted that in 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize was recognising the urgency with which climate change needs to be tackled. We are well aware that the disruption of our climate will be felt most acutely in the poorest countries and will severely compromise peace, stability and security in the world. The Copenhagen Conference will be decisive not only from an environmental point of view, but also for our development and peace agenda. Our agenda against climate change is also about food security, it is also about fighting poverty.

To curb climate change, a global effort is needed, and the burden must be shared equitably.

The European Union is ready for Copenhagen. A few days ago the EU’s heads of state and government agreed on the offer they will put forward at the negotiation table. What we would like to be able to do is to look our international partners in the eye and say: “Europe has done its bit, now it’s your turn”. We have to tackle all this together.

Last week I was in Washington with President Obama, and in New Delhi with Prime Minister Singh. Even if there are still important difficulties to overcome, I am more confident today that we will reach agreement in Copenhagen on the fight against climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I said, Europe is opening a new chapter. The Lisbon Treaty is about to come into force. It will endow the European Union with new foreign policy instruments, a greater capacity to act and a clearer position in its external affairs. We will have no more excuses to delay turning Europe into a more coherent and more effective actor on the international scene. And rightly so! Because in Europe we should remain committed to an open world.

I am one of those who fought for this treaty and defended it for years. What makes it so important is that, to me, it is the achievement of a European Union built on the rule of law and respect for human rights, the two fundamental principles for societies living in peace with themselves and those around them. This is how the European Union intends to consolidate its bridges towards peace and freedom.

And I would like to t hank you to allow me today to give you this European perspective of the great tasks of the World of tomorrow. I wish you a very successful meeting.

Thank you


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