Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-016"

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"Mr President, I very much regret that this will be my last speech to this Parliament, having been here for the past 25 years. I have to retire owing to health reasons, but I want to express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues in this Parliament, and of course to the Commission and the Council, for the outstanding support that they gave to peace in Northern Ireland. The special programme for peace and reconciliation and the International Fund for Ireland have done outstanding work in giving great hope to our young people. Finally, once again I express my deepest gratitude to you all for the great support that you give to peace on my own streets. Thank you very much indeed and I regret very much that I am leaving this great Parliament. I also owe a lot to this Parliament and to Strasbourg in terms of my own thinking. I always tell the story of the first time I came here in 1979. I went for a walk across the bridge from Strasbourg in France to Kehl in Germany and I stopped and meditated. I thought then that if I had stood there 30 years ago at the end of the Second World War – the worst half century in the history of the world in which 50 million human beings were slaughtered – and had said to myself 'don't worry, it's all over, they will all be united very soon', I would have been sent to a psychiatrist. But it happened, and it is something that in my opinion the European Union does not devote enough attention to. The European Union is the best example in the history of the world of conflict resolution. For that reason, the principles at the heart of it should be sent to every area of conflict. I know what I am talking about in saying that, because the three principles at the heart of the European Union are exactly the same as the three principles at the heart of our special agreement in Northern Ireland. Principle number one is respect for difference. All conflict is about difference, whether it is a matter of race, religion or nationality. The answer to difference is to respect it, because it is an accident of birth. Principle number two is institutions that respect differences. All Member States are represented in the Council of Ministers, the European Commission and the European Parliament. The third and most important principle is what I call the healing process. The countries involved worked together in their common interests – for economic development, for example – spilling their sweat and not their blood. As they did that, they eroded the divisions of centuries and as a result the new Europe has evolved and is still evolving. Those same three principles are at the heart of our agreement in Northern Ireland. Both identities fully respect principle number one, respect for difference. As regards principle number two, institutions, a proportional assembly and a proportional government will involve all sections of society. When they are in place, the third principle will come into play: working together in common interests, spilling sweat and not blood. The barriers of the past in Ireland will be eroded and a new Ireland will evolve. The world is a much smaller place now that we are living through the biggest revolution in the history of the world in terms of technology, telecommunications and transport. We are therefore in a stronger position to shape that world, particularly in this very historic week – who could have dreamt that the whole of Europe would be together? Given that it is a smaller world and that we are in a stronger position to shape it, the European Union should decide that our first objective in this new century is a world in which there is no longer any war or conflict. In order to ensure that is the case – and I am making this appeal to the Council of Ministers – the European Union should put in place a Commissioner, backed by a Commission department for peace and reconciliation, whose function would be to send to every area of conflict in the world not arms or soldiers, but the philosophy of European Union. This Commissioner's role would be to promote the dialogue about that philosophy and to help create a world in which there is no longer any war or any conflict. I believe that is now possible."@en1

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