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Professor Bronisław Geremek articles about ..


Halina Bednarz 2004-06-12

Thinking about Europe as a community [...] We could limit the European Union's prospects to this experience of imperial unifications and conclude, like the German philosopher Robert Spaemann, that Europe can only become a community of law where all citizens of countries with a European tradition will find themselves under a common roof when it enables communities sharing value judgements to exist in security and when it renounces the aim of becoming a community of values. I do not think that we can use the term community to refer to these 'imperial moments' in the history of Europe: in the legal order imposition predominates over participation: the citizen is subject to the obligations imposed and rights granted. It would be difficult to see how this path leads us to the realisation of the 'purpose' of the European Union or any kind of reference point for the current process of European unification. [..]

Europe and the world
[...] The United Nations Millennium Declaration foretold that the international community would rise together to face the challenges of poverty, great pandemics and mass terrorism; however, the first years of the 21st century have shown that this international solidarity was the stuff of illusion and wishful thinking. Europe, which in the fifty years following the end of World War 2 succeeded in the difficult task of the continent's internal economic integration, supported by firm Euro-Atlantic ties, is accused of being immanently weak, of having exhausted its creative potential. What is more important - and what is worse - Europe itself seems to be convinced of the inevitability of its own decline and being marginalised in the face of progressing globalisation and the growing economic and political dominance of the United States, as well as the increasing economic and political strength of Asia. It is not my intention to discuss or debunk those clichés, but rather to pose several questions - and perhaps propose several suggestions - on Europe's position and role in the modern world. Today's political stage certainly suffers from a shortage of statesmen among politicians, as well as from a dearth of fundamental debate on future of politics. [...]

Some remarks on Trans-Atlantic Convergences and Divergences
[...] Today this is changing: the support is being replaced by doubts as to whether this integration of Europe is really in America's interest, and whether the United States should not instead support the 'desegregation' of the European Union, i.e. a division of Europe. Poland extended its political support for the military operation in Iraq because the Poles trust America, they feel that their newly gained alliance with the USA is important, and they themselves have experienced the world's indifference toward the plight of nations stripped of their freedom and put under the yoke of a totalitarian system. We also undertook the difficult challenge of participating directly in the building of peace and democracy in Iraq. However, I don't think this should be construed as Poland's coming out against Europe and in favour of America. Poland's identity as a country is a European one, and taking part in European integration and in the political strengthening of the EU is in Poland's national interest.
This, I believe, is also the motivation of the other European countries that took the same position as Poland. We share the strong belief that Europe and America need each other, as borne out by the history of the entire 20th century. The most important feature shaping the current situation in Europe is not the appearance of new divisions, but on the contrary, their overcoming through unification. The current round of EU expansion that will lead to 10 new members joining the Union constitutes a final departure from the divisions introduced in Yalta and a real unification of Europe. [...]

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