Speech delivered at the Round Table Europe Conference, Wien, March 25, 1991. The Conference was devoted to questions of ethnic minorities, nationalities and regions in Europe of our time

25.03.1991 20:01

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Much has already been said about the obvious advantages of united Europe  -  united along quasifederal lines that is. The list of advantages is impressive and - what is most important - all these advantages improve lives of ordinary people and not only those of some small elites. The giant leap the EC has made in this respect during its existence is a conclusive evidence that arguments for federal Europe should carry the day.

This is the carrot side of the argument for united Europe. We should also remember the stick side.

Twice in less than thirty years Europe underwent horrible destruction by wars between its states. Why did these wars take place?  They took place because European states were inward looking entities and
because some were under the spell of the pseudoreligion of our times  - nationalism. Nationalism is based on two notions:

1.      The dignity of individual human beings springs from their belonging to some collective entity - ethnic or
national group

2.      Particular ethnic group or nation does not attain its fullest fruition or meaning until or unless it declares
itself a sovereign state

In other words the dignity of human beings is derived from some mystical dignity of the state. This is, however what also socialism amounts to.

It would be an immense tragedy for Europe if after defeating socialism in one form we should see  it re-emerging in another form since both socialism and nationalism go against the very grain of Judeo-Christian civilization. Basic tenets of that civilization affirm supremacy of universal values and they derive dignity of men from a source beyond the reach of human agency or institutions. They affirm supremacy of things all men have in common over all things in which men differ.

The prosperity and peace so many people dream of will prevail in Europe only if political winds of transnational or transethnic universalism will start blowing also in Central and Eastern Europe The respect for rights of human beings as human beings should reign supreme. Only then will differences in language and
culture be consequence of free decisions of men to live their particular lives within the frameworks of these cultures, and not a vehicle for ambitious power elites  to enhance their power. And only then will differences enrich our lives and only then will they not represent the seeds of future conflicts, wars and impoverishment.

I am afraid that institutional arrangements cannot do the work to be done if there is no spiritual renewal in Central and Eastern Europe. Neither would any redrawing of borders do the job. I confess freely to having no recipe how to achieve that renewal.



© 2009 Pavel Bratinka Všechna práva vyhrazena.