fr en de

Presidency of the European Parliament : in honour of the past …

The election on 14th July of Pole Jerzy Buzek by 86% of the vote as President of the European Parliament was welcomed as an historic event.

The chairman of the first Solidarity congress in 1981, then Prime Minister of his country for four years is a man worthy of respect and is much appreciated.

What he represents is all the more so and would have been justification enough for him not to have had to face a "Communist" candidate and the French Socialists could have done more than just abstain!

This is because accession by a Pole who resisted against totalitarian Communism as head of the European Assembly is more than a symbol.

It is yet another step towards the reconciliation of Europe's collective memory with its tragic history.

The construction of Europe was the beginning of an unprecedented wager to rise beyond nationalism whilst respecting national history, to sublimate secular opposition whilst respecting identity.

In order to achieve this lofty goal we still have to work on the past – a vital undertaking if history is not to be an impediment but a base on which we can gradually build a collective European memory that will finally lead to the reconciliation of all Europeans.

However in spite of the progress made many obstacles remain.

Ideologies in Europe have created historical clefts and dramas of exceptional gravity with regard to mankind.

Nazism was vanquished and eradicated but we know that we still have to be extremely vigilant.

Communism has not been judged publicly nor have we ever been cleansed of it by means of a collective therapeutic exercise.

Hence Russia has just protested against a vote on the part of the assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe which condemned the undeniable horrors of the former regime. But Russia refuses to bring Communism to trial which in fact would free European collective memory and in all likelihood its own people of an all consuming burden.

The murder of Human Rights militant, Natalia Estemirova is the very proof of this. In Europe there are still Communist parties and leaders who hang on to the past in spite of the crimes committed...

No one can challenge history whose winding journey belongs to the people: Stalin was a firm link in the anti-Nazi coalition and helped towards its victory.

But no one can neglect the collective memory which sometimes deforms historic facts, associates a population to a major test and is the foundation of their pride in belonging to a national community.

Populations have to be helped to overcome the past by accepting it so that they can build an increasingly common memory by using the knowledge of the history of the other as a base.

However a new danger arises from this: that of religious wars experienced by Europe in the past which now threaten to be the source of renewed conflict across the world; Europe's lesson is that there is no type of adversity that cannot surmounted by reason and courage.

This is why the European message is surprisingly topical. This is why the election of a Pole who contributed to the fall of Communism is important.


This is why we have to continue our work on the past and share our history together even though it is laden with suffering.

This is not about repentance but about dignity.