Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-03-Speech-1-010"

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"Mr President, Madam Vice-President, Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen, in particular those of you from the ten new countries joining us. Europe is being reborn. This is a great challenge and a process of historic construction of the greatest importance, not only to live interdependently, but also to respond to globalisation; Europe has a great deal to contribute. We have great challenges before us; firstly, to overcome our own fears, and we must not forget that the general public does have these fears; we must work to educate and explain, pointing out that the opportunities far outweigh the costs, and that we are prepared to confront that complexity. Why? Because there is a spirit of solidarity and furthermore foundations which maintain us and fortify us through shared values. Shared values which are based on mutual tolerance and fraternity. The engagement – a long one – has come to an end, and we have wed. We now share the same house and the same future. Now we are a family with not just the same rights, but also with the same obligations, and this applies to those that were present at the outset, those of us that have joined, such as my own country and others, and those that are joining now. I believe that the best thing we could do to end this legislature and move on to this Europe of 25 Member States is to ensure the conclusion of the process of definitively approving the European Constitution which, fortunately, has been unblocked since March. I am justifiably proud to come from a country that has allowed the deadlock to be broken. I believe we should call on the Council, which is unfortunately absent today, and the Intergovernmental Conference, which you will have to address, Mr President, to fulfil its duty and its historic responsibility so that we may have a European Constitution by June. That is the next stage, which will complete this successful round of enlargement. I hold out my hand as a mark of friendship to all our new friends and colleagues joining us today. First of all, Mr President, I would like to thank you and congratulate you because you have been a worthy representative of the European Parliament during these events. I would also like to thank and congratulate the Prodi Commission and in particular Commissioner Verheugen for having pushed ahead with this task. Today we have a date with history and with our future. By means of the decisive step we took last Saturday we are taking a great and historic step forward by bringing together the majority of the landmass and population of our continent, for the first time in history, without an emperor, a king, a general or a dictator deciding to do so. This is a decision taken freely by all of us. And that is what makes the difference. We have heard the Ode to Joy by Beethoven, who was also someone who fought for freedom, and political censorship made him change the word to and I therefore believe that we should call it the Ode to Joy and Freedom, because it is freedom which has united all of us. We have been able to take this step because we believe in democracy, in freedom, in respect for human rights, in governance, in the rule of law and in a secular Union which respects everybody's beliefs and philosophies. This is what has allowed us to unite in these circumstances. It is democracy that has allowed this to happen. Nor must we forget that on this continent we have lived through a twentieth century which has been the age of extremes and during part of which Nazi, fascist and communist dictatorships have predominated. First there was the liberation of Europe following the world war and then a chain reaction which has been gathering pace; little more than a week ago we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Revolution of the Carnations in Portugal, which was a key event in terms of ending the dictatorship of Salazar; then my country joined ... ... then we had in Poland; then came the fall of the Berlin Wall and now we are consolidating what we have done following that event, with the entry of the ten new Members. My Greek colleagues point out to me that they also defeated a fascist dictatorship, I believe that we can all congratulate ourselves because we have had to fight to win freedom and I also hope that now, with the entry of the ten new Members we can complete this historic process and that we do not have to wait long for the Republic of Cyprus to be reunited, since this too is an essential step. Never before in European history have so many people lived together in peace, democracy, under the rule of law and on the basis of a shared sovereignty and destiny."@en1

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