Europe Day Festivities - Address by Mr Markopouliotis, Head of the EC Representation in Cyprus
11.05.2013 Address by Mr Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, on Saturday, 11 May 2013, 16:00, at the Home for Cooperation, Nicosia
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you here today to celebrate Europe Day, to commemorate the declaration of a man of vision. It was sixty-three years ago, on 9 May 1950, when Robert Schuman, the then French Foreign Minister, called the European nations to pool their coal and steel production at supranational level, therewith laying the foundations of what we know as the European Union.
Keep in mind that we are talking about 1950; the nations of Europe are still struggling to overcome the devastation wrought by World War II, which had ended 5 years earlier.
Determined to prevent another such terrible war, European governments concluded that pooling coal and steel production would – in the words of the Declaration – make war between historic rivals France and Germany "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible".
63 years later, what then seemed as wishful thinking, is now a reality. We have created a strong European Union made up of 27 states, soon to be 28, that live side by side in harmony-something unthinkable 100 years ago. There are 500 million European citizens that lead their life in peace. And I truly believe that this is the biggest achievement of the EU: peace.
Some people say that we do not need the EU; that the Union has achieved its historic purpose-bringing peace. That it is time to get done with it.
I could not disagree more. Peace is not something we should take for granted.
Securing peace is an ongoing progress. Promoting understanding through cooperation is a key element of this process, and one of the principles guiding the EU. This is why I am particularly happy about the two initiatives funded by the Representation, the launch of which we are also celebrating today. The Meeting Point and lemonCY.eu.
The Meeting Point, operated by the Association for Historical Dialogue & Research, aspires to promote bi-communal dialogue and facilitate co-operation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. It will also offer citizens free of charge information, advice, assistance and answers regarding the European Union's priorities, legislation, policies and programmes.
lemonCY.eu is a trilingual web space where news from one of the main two communities on the island will be available in the language of the other. We helped build this site because the two communities were telling us that they are not always aware of what's happening at the other side of the Green Line. We hope that this initiative will facilitate the two communities reading each other's news in their own language.
Following a competitive tender, Yenidüzen newspaper will have the oversight of the site. There is an editorial team of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in place and we are confident that the site will soon grasp the people's attention that they too will send in news. This initiative is a step forward in facilitating mutual understanding and dialogue between the two communities; let's make the most out of it.
The EU was born out of the terrible experiences of World War II. Europe Day stands for peace, freedom and prosperity. This has to be the case for Cyprus as well. The leaders of the two communities can continue to count on the European Commission's full support of their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement. As President Barroso has said, all Cypriots, the European Union and the entire region will benefit from a united Cyprus.
I hope you enjoy yourselves today; there will be a lot of activities going on. Let me close my address with my favorite quote from the Schuman Declaration "Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity."