19 / 06 / 2004 John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize winner: “In Northern Ireland, after 300 years, we’ve realized that violence doesn’t play a role”
Forum 141 Questions (42): “A Europe of States or a Europe of Peoples?” John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1998, praised the militant “Europeism” diametrically opposed to his neighbor Great Britain. Hume was happy with the recent approval of the European Constitution and said that, “the European Union is the best example of conflict resolution.”
John Hume, one of the main figures in the peace process in Northern Ireland, took a clear position on the dilemma of Europe for states or peoples. He defended the process of European construction and said that if we keep in mind that the two world wars of the 20th century took 50 million lives, no one would have predicted the unity in Europe today. “Europe is the best example of conflict resolution. Europe has paid great attention to the past and the principles of the European Union can help solve conflicts throughout the world.”
One of the principles Hume broke down into three: respect for difference, representation of all the countries in the Union and the fact that it has been taken as a process of “curing.” “It’s common work for economic development,” he said. “Sharing the same sweat and not blood or weapons. It would be fantastic if this happened all over the world,” said Hume, who also stressed that the Northern Ireland peace accord was based on the same principles.
Hume described the Constitution approved by the 25 heads of state and the EU government as “very good and positive” as it brings the East and West together through an accord about the nature of the relations between the countries. “The European Constitution is about living in peace,” said Hume convinced that the process is an “opportunity” for a large market that we must reap “benefits” from.
On the peace process in Northern Ireland, Hume emphasized that “only with respect can be peace be achieved”. “it is impossible to pursue human rights if there is no respect for the right to life. After more than 300 years of conflict in Northern Ireland we finally realize that violence has no role to play”, he added.
And in answer to questions from the audience about the non-recognition of the Catalan language as an official language within the European Union, Hume reminded them that the essence of Europe is respect for diversity. “It is appropriate to fight for the development of languages within that diversity”, he said, without suggesting any definite method. The winner of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize – which he shared with David Trimble – ended his session in “141 Questions” by singing a traditional Irish song, at his wife’s request, in the hall at the Convention Center where the session took place because of the rain.