12 / 05 / 2004
Charlemagne prize laureates meeting in Barcelona defend the need for a european foreign policy based on multi-lateralism
Foreign policy and the future European Constitution featured in the course of the dialogue “The Role of Europe in the World”, which took place in the Forum Building Auditorium under the chairmanship of HM King Juan Carlos. Taking part in the debate were the Charlemagne prize laureates Felipe González, Emilio Colombo, Simone Veil, Gyula Horn, Bronislaw Geremek, Gyorgy Könrád, Wim Duisenberg, Valéry Giscard d´Estaing and Pat Cox. The latter two also participated in the closing session, along with the Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and HRH Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
The former president of the Spanish government, Felipe González, who took the role of moderator for the debate, declared that “the definition of Europe as a world power is the great challenge for the future of Europe” and rejected the “nationalist arguments that seek a distribution of proportions of power” at the heart of the European Union.
The former president of the European Parliament and Italian senator, Emilio Colombo, declared that the Iraq conflict “demonstrates that unilateralism aggravates rather than resolves the problem of terrorism” and he supported the cause for a European constitution that assigns responsibilities in matters of foreign policy.
Simone Veil, member of the Constitutional Council of France and former president of the European Parliament, pointed out that “for the first time in Europe union has been achieved without violence or domination, and she referred to the Balkan conflict as a case in point to show that “the problems of the former Yugoslavia would not have been so dramatic had that country belonged to the European Union”.
The former prime minister of Hungary, Gyula Horn, emphasised that the “fight against terrorism must be at international level” and the tragedy of 11 March in Madrid must be seen as a ”message” for all. In this sense, he defended the need for a formal understanding between Europe and the United Status in the anti-terrorism campaign.
Peace and diversity
Bronislaw Geremek, former foreign minister of Poland, spoke bluntly about the current foreign policy of the present North American administration: “the war can be won through unilateral action but the peace can only be won through multi-lateral action. And this defines the role that Europe must set itself in the world”, he said.
The writer and sociologist, György Konrád, focused his speech on the cultural aspect and highlighted the variety of languages that exist together in the old continent. In this sense he declared that, despite the presence of English as the first language of the world, “to call for a monolingual Europe would be absurd. We should aim to move towards a multicultural society. Furthermore, in Europe most people have the ability to learn and use a variety of languages”, he said.
Wim Duisenberg, former president of the Central European Bank, based his exposé on the future of European economic policy in the light of the challenge set by the recent expansion to 25 countries. In this respect he defended the euro as a “symbol of European unity” and maintained that its adoption as the single currency serves as part of the overall plan for Europe.
Valéry Giscard d´Estaing, former president of France and president of the European Commission, referred to the future European Constitution and called for the creation of a fully defined role for a foreign minister, which would be compatible with the diplomatic interests of each member state. Giscard d’Estaing said he was completely opposed to a six-month rotation of the presidency of the Council of Europe.
Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, pointed out that “Europe is not in opposition to the United States. The relationship is friendly and strong, but it must also be based on dignity and equality”. On the issue of the European Constitution, the president of the continent´s parliament urged for progress to be “step by step”.
In the closing session of the dialogue, Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and HRH Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, took part, together with Giscard d’Estaing and Cox. Moratinos said that Europe is facing the present times with the “confidence of having eradicated armed conflicts and having replaced them with dialogue and agreement”. HRH Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, said he was in favor of Europe increasing its aid to poor and developing countries as a way of promoting a guarantee of peace and sustainable development in the world.
Lastly, Pat Cox alluded to the victims of 11-M when he talked about the fight against terrorism: “for the sake of the victims Europe is obliged to be effective in the international fight against terrorism. To guarantee that acts like 11-M never happen again is the best homage we could pay to them”, he said.