Timothy Garton Ash
drew attention to two impending events.
On 12 March in Independence, Missouri, the
Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland would
formally accede to NATO. On 15 March, in
Rambouillet, near Paris, another attempt
would be made to prevent war in Kosovo.
Both events illustrate the
European experience. On the one hand the
success story of Central Europe over the
last 10 years; on the other the failure
of Western Europe to prevent war and atrocities
in the Balkans. These two events symbolize
the best and worst of Europe in the 1990s.
It was appropriate that
Central and Eastern Europeans should open
the deliberations of COEUR since they have
kept Europe in their hearts for forty years.
Travelling between East and West Europe
during the Cold War he had often thought
that Europe was divided between the West,
which had Europe and the East, which believed
in it. So it would be especially interesting
to hear what the believers think of today's
EU. There is also something else which Independence
and Rambouillet have in common. They were
both orchestrated by the USA. Why not Europe?
When travelling two months previously in
Kosovo he noted that conversations often
began with "The international community.
I mean the Americans..."
President Havel began
by remarking that 51 years ago to the day,
the communist coup in Czechoslovakia had
been the last in a string of events which
had drawn the Iron Curtain across Europe
and led to the creation of NATO.
Throughout its history Europe
has been a single cultural and political
entity. The Iron Curtain appeared to cut
the East off from European dialogue. But
this isolation gave East Europeans a special
perspective. They saw more clearly than
those in the West the need for pan-European
arrangements based on this one culture and
ethos of unification.
The Iron Curtain, which
fell 10 years ago, has been replaced by
a psychological iron curtain. East Europeans
are still unsure of themselves, unsure whether
they are the equals of those in the West
who may view them as "strange unpredictable
creatures". Joining NATO may help overcome
this new barrier. Looking ahead, what can
East and West Europeans together bring to
Europe? Each can be said to owe a debt to
the other. From the East is a debt due to
the failure to articulate the experience
of life under totalitarianism, and the struggle
to maintain a system of ethics and decency.
The East owes it to the West to convey this
experience. The West owes it to the East
to transcend the framework of its consumerism,
materialism and questionable media sensationalism.
Combining the two, Europe
owes a debt to the whole world. Europeans
have a duty to set an example to rest of
the world as a means of overcoming the dangers
besetting our civilization. Europe cannot
export its principles by force but rather
show by force of example what a region,
which was the cradle of our civilization,
can achieve. Attempts at European unification
originally took place against the experience
of war and totalitarianism. Those external
threats have receded and people now wonder
whether the impulse to unification will
continue. Today the imperative should be
that Europe has a responsibility to show
an example to the world. We need "a
new ethos with which our continent can enter
a new millennium".
recalled that two weeks previously, Warsaw
had celebrated the tenth anniversary of
the round table which set in motion the
velvet revolutions in Czechoslovakia, Hungary
and Poland. They were true revolutions.
But in showing restraint they had shown
a degree of responsibility which had contributed
positively to the destiny of Europe.
To overcome the global challenges
it now faces, Europe needs a new synergy.
Europe needs the East. Enlargement is not
just enlargement but rather unification.
What is the meaning of European integration
? The answer lies in culture. Europe is
a civilization which has always been critical
of itself. There is no spontaneous tendency
towards thinking and acting in European
terms but rather a natural tendency towards
nationalism. Politics are still national
rather than European. This is understandable
in that our democratic structures are national,
but the reversion to nationalism brings
the dangers of the national interest becoming
the reference point of politics. The idea
of a European interest is still too weak,
and because it is weak the concept of national
interest is becoming stronger. A weak European
strategy could engender a return to nationalism
and the extreme right.
European integration began
with economics and is now a question of
European identity. But European identity
needs a memory. The creation of a European
history is a conscious act. It should not
be a well-intentioned effort where all differences
are smoothed out. Instead, it should be
objective account of Europe in all its conflicts,
follies and stupidities, and alongside these
the great success story of the EU.
The EU is in reality an
unbelievable success. That is why East Europeans
wish to join. Who could have imagined French
and German reconciliation? In South East
Asia people want a similar system based
on the rule of law and democracy. Europeans
should assume responsibility for all the
disasters of the past and on their doorstep
and continue integration because it is something
good, based on values, and opposed to what
is happening in Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere.
Europe needs more confidence and more of
a sense of its own identity.
A Pole cannot forget the 1939 slogan "Nous
ne mourrons pas pour Danzig" In the
end those who said that, did not die for
Danzig but for their own countries. What
of Kosovo and Pristina today? It is important
to know about such places, peoples and cultures.
COEUR should make this one of its principal
Timothy Garton Ash
underlined the link between teaching history
and building a better Europe. There is wisdom
in the words of a Hungarian historian "You
know. I think we should be more optimistic
about the past".
struck a more doubtful note. The EU is the
child of the Enlightenment, but has as its
antithesis an anti-integrative or disintegrative
romanticism. This romanticism can be seen
in operation in the Balkans. The rhetoric
of Europe is superficial if responsibility
is forgotten. During the Cold War the West
spent heavily on armaments, but did not
feel secure. Then the Eastern bloc collapsed
from within, no arms were needed and societies
themselves dismantled their systems of government.
Culture proved the most effective tool.
"Words crumbled the Wall without bloodshed".
Citizens of the West can thank East Europeans
for having escaped the danger of a Third
Today gradual integration
of Eastern Europe into the EU is justified
but evasiveness is damaging. There is no
need to trick East Europeans. The rhetoric
of Europe will not be relevant if expansion
to the East can only take place "when
cows jump over the moon". If integration
slows down and becomes uncertain, the feeling
of exclusion could give way to romanticisms
of resentment and anti-Western nationalist
Missing the chance to expand
eastward could mean that decay could spread
to the West, and that the great product
of the post-war period, Franco-German friendship
could crack as well. If union is not a progressive
operation, then it will turn inward and
brood over its own internal conflicts. The
dangling of deadlines does no good for Western
politics either, because it institutionalises
uncertainty and dishonesty as basic European
attributes. Instead, there should be a continuous
critical evaluation of the democratic practices
of individual countries, to be prepared
by the appropriate institutions under the
aegis of the EU. Among the EU Commissioners
there should also be a human rights commissioner.
European integration calls
for moral commitment. It involves sacrifice
and necessarily has to contain a utopian
element, that of continuously expanding
circles of responsibility.
assessment of the current European situation
was pessimistic. He took as his theme the
phrase by Goya "The sleep of reason
engenders monsters". These monsters
are arising in Kosovo. Where there was incapacity
to sustain peaceful action the consequence
was a movement to arms.
Why is there still a psychological
iron curtain? Europe has wasted 10 years.
This is perhaps not a catastrophe but it
is certainly a failure. Germany has helped
millions of people in the East, but no-one
else has done so on the scale needed. Germany
has no higher unemployment than France.
Helping others is helping oneself. When
the US fell into isolationism the result
was a disaster: when the US helped Europe
through the Marshall Plan it also helped
itself to adapt to a post-war economy. Europe
has provided no such help to the East, but
not for lack of material resources.
Why then is there a blockage?
It is as if Eastern Europe is a terra incognita,
a place beyond Western comprehension. The
last Vienna European Council spent more
time discussing Duty-Free than the crisis
in Russia. Greens are more concerned about
closing down nuclear plants in the West
than the vastly more dangerous ones in the
East. At the time the Berlin Wall tell,
the libraries of the West were stuffed with
books explaining how to make the transition
from capitalism to socialism. None explained
how to do the reverse.
However, the blockage is
not total. It is possible to explain to
the West that what has happened in the East
is decisive. What is happening in the Balkans
and other turbulent parts of the world are
European experiences relived. Russia today
compared to the Weimar Republic is comprehensible
in Germany. European unification can be
seen as a way of overcoming adversity, not
overcoming an enemy. The European man in
the street is no better, wiser, or more
democratic than in the past. It is just
that he has a better chance of avoiding
political disasters today provided he draws
lessons from Europe's own history and does
not pretend that the outside world does
not exist. Vaclav Havel is right. Responsibility
is Europe's gift to the world.
Timothy Garton Ash
noted that all the panelists agreed that
Western Europe, by trailing to help the
East, has also failed to pursue its own
self-interest. Opening the discussion he
invited comment from the floor. Who would
dare to defend the priorities, the "Maastricht
priorities", which Western leaders
have set over the last ten years?
Edzard Reuter (Stuttgart)
emphasized that European unification has
been a great success story. It has also
been a major cause of the demise of communist
regimes. This success has been achieved
gradually. Would it not be preferable for
the future to continue step by step? This
approach would be the most acceptable to
the man in the street, who is "much
more in favour of European unity than most
(Stockholm) disagreed. A majority of Swedes
are now opposed to EU membership. The EU
has to solve serious internal problems before
assuming its responsibilities towards the
East. The EU's biggest problem is language.
The EU is supposed to create a European
public forum but in a democracy such a forum
is based on a common language. Expanding
to the East will only exacerbate this problem.
Communication within Europe is the main
(Nice) The EU is a victim of its own success.
The historical reasons for unity, the desire
for peace, tear of the Soviet threat, the
advantages of a single market, have been
achieved. Now the issue of costs and profits
has become the overriding consideration;
costs which the West is reluctant to bear
and profits which the East is eager to share.
Vaclav Havel The
European ideal also includes readiness to
take on the burdens of the world. It is
not a question of exporting its values but
of setting an example. This requires a sense
recalled President Havel's image about the
enlargement of the EU. It is impossible
to have a room in which one half is warm
and the other cold. The question now is
whether Europe is one room. Only the West
can answer. The West needs the East to prove
the success of European integration.
(Louvain) found the accusation that the
West has failed to help the East exaggerated.
If the West has not fully embraced the East
it is because the public in the West is
not well informed. The reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy is not a precondition
for enlargement of the EU. The CAP would
have to be reformed "even if we lived
on the moon". The dangers of migration
from the East to the West are misrepresented.
Polls show that only a small number would
emigrate from the East.
Andreas Meyer Landrut
(Moscow) Russia is part of Europe and it
is our responsibility to keep her in Europe.
Providing money is not the solution. Europe
must help Russian society to evolve.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has removed
a unifying threat from Europe, but we must
not reinvent another enemy. The EU is not
a union against an adversary but against
adversity. Europe must learn from its turbulent
past and draw the lessons from it: democracy,
tolerance and respect for others is the
most responsible policy.
saw danger that the West's drive for integration
is weakening. The concept of the nation
state is strengthening now that the unifying
threat has gone. Gone too is the generosity
of the early years. Bargaining is getting
tougher. Fragmentation is increasing. This
is not dangerous so long as the disciplining
framework of the EU and NATO remain. But
it could easily deteriorate as has happened
in the Balkans. The true function of the
EU is to provide that discipline, not only
through institutions, but also through Europeans
understanding the historical dimension of
the process of European unification.
The French historian Braudel had once remarked
that what man needs to be happy is: the
market, political freedom and "un peu
de fraternité", which must be
based on a strong feeling of common identity.
Europe must develop "a little bit of
The cultural sphere must provide impulses
for the political sphere. It is then up
to politicians to absorb such impulses and
translate them into politics. For this a
quality is needed which is not often found
in politicians: courage. The courage to
be unpopular, to risk failure and, above
all, to remain faithful to one's beliefs.
The post-war politicians had this courage.
To breathe a new spirit and energy into
European unification we need courageous