Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-10-09-Speech-4-032"

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"Mr President, I should like to begin by thanking all those who spoke during this debate, although it is clear that I openly disagree with some of them. Symbols do not represent only states. At this stage of our development, symbols do not embody confrontation, combat or battles; they are a means of conveying ideas and of uniting people around values. This is what our flag, our anthem, our motto and Europe Day represent. The Intergovernmental Conference was forced by some to remove symbols from the Treaty, against the will of the vast majority. This vast majority preferred to forge ahead with the essentials of the Constitution rather than get caught up in the traps set by those challenging not only the symbols but also the need to progress further in political union. For that reason, 16 countries, including my own, issued a statement to the effect that, in their view, the use of symbols was a fact of life, official and, what is more, something that should be welcomed. Nobody questioned the European Union’s symbols during the referendum campaigns that resulted in the non-ratification of the Constitution. Let us be serious: can anyone remember large sections of the French and Dutch population saying ‘no’ to the Constitution because it referred to Union symbols? I, for one, cannot, and I campaigned actively in France. There could be other reasons that may or may not be common to a number of people, but the matter of symbols was not one of them. Of course, I feel Spanish because I am European and European because I am Spanish. This means that when I see my country’s flag next to that of the 12 stars, the conviction that both are part of my life grows stronger. When I see the President-in-Office of the Council appear with both the French flag and the European Union flag, I also feel proud. Above all, I feel proud to have been cheered, like many of you, when someone has received humanitarian aid or has noticed our election observation team and recognises us by the flag and applauds it. We would be foolish to deny ourselves what others recognise with friendship and with joy."@en1

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