Signals from Berlin (and the Vatican)

The EU has many reasons to celebrate, because for many years it has been a continent at peace, not including the bloody struggles in Ulster, Basque country or in Yugoslavia. It has enjoyed steady economic growth and a rising standard of living, even though there is a deep divide between East and West.

The EU has many reasons to celebrate, because for many years it has been a continent at peace, not including the bloody struggles in Ulster, Basque country or in Yugoslavia. It has enjoyed steady economic growth and a rising standard of living, even though there is a deep divide between East and West. It is a place where democracy and human rights have had the main word since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Tolerance is a value prized by this association of countries, even if in recent years it has begun to fade, and voices are being heard from the graves of the brown and red totalitarian systems it suffered.

The EU, however, is not workable in its current format, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on March 25, providing a very rational conclusion to the weekend's celebrations of the EU's 50th birthday. In this way, the Chancellor communicated Germany's very strong interest in reviving the idea of the European constitution - but the member states will first have to agree if it will yield a Europe of regions or a Europe of nation-states. Then it will be necessary to quickly reform Europe's institutions. If that doesn't happen, euro-citizens will certainly be united by hatred of Brussels bureaucrats and their national look-alikes.

One other quiet signal was heard from Berlin - enlargement will now be put on hold for a while. Invitations to the Berlin celebrations were notably not sent to Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia or Turkey, never mind the sub-Caucasus or Ukraine.

Other signals were also heard from Berlin - the Union needs its own rapid reaction force (according to Merkel and others), although it is not known whether this will be within NATO or not, and therefore with or without the logistics and intelligence support of the US Army. The Chancellor also sensitively listened to the voice of European intellectuals and following their appeal called on all EU member states not to ignore the Darfur crisis and to act together to save thousands of lives.

The Vatican also issued an appeal - the Pope wants Europe to clearly declare loyalty to Christianity, because otherwise it will lose its purpose. If by this Benedict XVI meant Europe as an example of love, tolerance and solidarity, then that's fine. It would be worse if he meant Europe as a Christian fortress.


Hospodárske Noviny,
March 27

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