Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-05-04-Speech-2-123"

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"Mr President, beyond any doubt, the enlargement of the EU by the accession of ten states is an event of historic magnitude. It is difficult to predict how history will eventually rate the first day of May in 2004. If one is to believe the politicians, the accession of the former Socialist Republics of Eastern Europe has not enlarged Europe, but completed it. Whatever our understandable and justifiable rejoicing at the fall of borders, we should not overlook the fact that many citizens of both the old and new Member States take a sceptical view of the future. Those who live in Prague or Budapest, where unemployment stands at only between 3% and 4% will take a different view of things from someone from Ostrawa in Northern Moravia, where some 30% are out of work. I have experienced celebrations that soon gave way to sober reality and disappointment, the after-effects of which are being felt in Germany to this day. In the course of negotiations, much was said about the implementation of the Copenhagen criteria, but there was no debate about the changes that bring with them grave social disparities, with poverty for the many and immense wealth for the few. Far be it from me to pour cold water on this solemn moment, but I know that there is in the long term nothing worse than self-deception, and that nothing does more political damage than the unwillingness to accept history with all its contradictions, bitterness and difficulties. This being my last speech to this House, I have a request to make. There must be no room in the European democracy for xenophobia, anti-Semitism or hatred of Communists, of whatever kind. Europe is more than the EU, and the European Union will have new neighbours. What the present time demands of us is that we be good neighbours. A week ago, I was in Riga and saw for myself just how much is required if trust in our neighbours is to grow. If we want to have a good future to look forward to in peace, then what is required of us will be peaceful communities, the bringing together of people, and coexistence in a spirit of solidarity."@en1

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