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Home arrow newsitems arrow EU Cultural Capital 2013 Marseille/Aix at the center of Mediterranean's Future: Culture or Barbary ?

EU Cultural Capital 2013 Marseille/Aix at the center of Mediterranean's Future: Culture or Barbary ?

Written by ACM
Friday, 20 January 2012
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*Aix-Marseille/Angelo Marcopolo/-  EU's 2013 Cultural Capital, Aix-Marseille's manifold ambitious projects, officially anounced yesterday during a Press visit by invited Journalists of various French and other EU Media, including "EuroFora", may timely prove, at the center of a fast-changing, sensitive and strategic Mediterraean region,  that Europe is able to efficiently and artfully renovate its Economy in times of Global Crisis by investing to Culture, including Scientific, respectful of social and moral values also on Nature (ii.e. Environment, BioEthics, etc), instead of abandoning them into risks to be reconverted, in extremis, in areas of inhuman Barbary reminiscent of the 1929-1944 Crisis, which had provoked Fascism and Nazi concentration camps, massive deportation and other horrors leading to the destructive 2nd World War...
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    After having recently played a symbolic but key role into strengthening EU's Political and Economic core, since the Franco-German motor's December 2011 Historic initiative to start building €uroArea's Governance at a Top Political level of regular Heads of State/Government Summits, initially anounced by French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel at the Elysee palace, was immediately afterwards debated among MEPs and EU States/Governments' Leaders for the 1st time here, during the European People Party's bi-annual Congress, at the eve of landmark decisions endorsing the main thrust of the Plan at EU's Brussels' Summit, (See "EuroFora"s NewsReports from the Marseille and Brussels mega-political events), Marseille, now logically, systematically and actively preparing a next step on 2013 by focusing on Europe's role, influence, cooperation and interelations in its Mediterranean neighborhood, starting by Cultural values and links,  due to be highlighted by President Sarkozy's wishes for 2012 to the world of Culture, this time in Marseille, next week, as the city's Mayor, the experienced politician Jean-Paul Gaudin, anounced yesterday, before flying to personaly meet Sarkozy in Paris.

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    As the former Revolutionary song  known as "the Marseilleuse", an initial song about the Rhine river, first sang in Strasbourg, notoriously motivated a Thousand of Revolutionaries from Marseille to travel towards Paris, back in 1792, in order to succesfully defend Democratic Freedoms, the 2011 Congres bringing together the biggest EU Parliament Political Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP, and a wide Majority of EU's Heads of State/Government, held at Marseille, obviously paved the way for the Historic Agreement obtained immediately afterwards in EU's Summit in Brussels, where everybody (including "EuroFora") rushed to arrive at the last minute in Brussels before Final Decision time.              
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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The will to help renovate the most ancient civilisation's birthplace, the Mediterranean, is, indeed, obvious f.ex. in an ideally placed old industrial outlet right in front of Marseille's beautiful "Old Seaport", facing a superb, Historic Cathedral and a couple of Islets, which will house both the port's Administration and Cultural events, including Citizens' participation in democratic decision processes, while a Giant old Silo, at the Docks, was already succesfully reconverted into a large Theater with deep scene and explosive natural Light beams, equiped with a pittoresque Reception and Restauration area ..precisely there where Wheat used to fall down from the cealing ,

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facing the spectacular Saadi giant Skyscraper, Headquarters of the biggest company of Sea ship containers' transport in the World, inside a revitalized landscape alike to London's former "Docks" area, another example of succesful transformation of a classic industrial site into a modern offices, housing and public space area, High-Tech area, (which is currently inspiring also Strasbourg's smaller River port area around the "Seegmuller" Tower, not far away from the city's "European quarter").

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    But it was also a disaffected former Tile Factory, at Marseille's Aix-en-Provence hinterland, which had been transformed into a Prison and "Transit" faciility between 1939-1942, initially for Foreigners whose countries were ennemies during the 2nd World War, (as NAZI Germany, including an annexed part of former Czechoslovakia), afterwards of various Political Dissidents, leftists, etc. adversaries to NAZIsm, later extended also to Jews, etc., by the Petain collaborationist regime after the Military defeat inflicted by the NAZI army, before Final Mass Transportations to Death-Camps like Dachau, Aushwitz, etc. from 1942, when it was closed after being emptied from jailed Families with Women and young Children included.

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F.ex. a Mother who committed suicide there in order to avoid being transferred to NAZI Death Camps, as the Director of the President of the Foundation for the "Camp of Milles", (due to re-open on June 2012 an "Education and Memory" center), Alain Chouraqui, a reknown Research Director on Sociology at the prestigious French CNRS, reminded.

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- "In fact, this wasn't a typical Concentration Camp, but rather a former ordinary space, run by ordinary People, in the middle of ordinary villages, at a moment when almost nobody suspected what extra-ordinary horrors expected the victims inside the NAZI Concentration Camps. And that was, precisely, when the Resistance of Conscious People in order to prevent such gross violations of Human Rights,'", warned Chouraqui, whose "Father was among  those who, later fought to liberate Strasbourg and the rearby Struthof, real NAZI Concentration Camp", as he told "EuroFora", speaking of the links with the European Center for Deportees, created on 2006 at the remote Mountainous ressort where were notoriously gathered "Specimens" of arrested People gone "MISSING" throughout all Europe, in order to be selectively but systematically submitted to atrocious "Tests" by NAZI "Doctors" in a Strasbourg's Medical University Labo, as an Historian has described : See relevant "EuroFora"s Newsreport.

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To contribute, on the contrary, into ensuring Today a Peaceful and prosperous, sensitive but also Strategic Euro-Mediterraean area, where socio-political tensions and uncertainties, demographic pressure, but also Democratic aspirations, the most Ancient Civilisations in the World, and new huge Natural Resources' findings concentrate, the European Cultural capital 2013 operation unites together Marseille, the Historic Eastern Mediterranean Seaport founded by the Greek Civilisation, with Aix-en-Provence's Roman hinterland History, both currently generate an astonishing Number of various Projects, funded mainly by the Municipalities, but also the Departments and the Region, private Sponsors, as well as the French State and the EU itself, in addition to various cooperations, which all naturally contribute into boosting Economic Development, as indicates the Spectacular number of giant Cranes which multiply all over Marseille's seaport...

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But, good quarters look overloaded as in all historic Mediterranean Cities. To the point that, f.ex., young pupils of a private Christian School are obliged to study without any open-air recreation yard, all day closed inside a building, so that a Dutch Artist was invited  to design an "internal landscape" allowing Children to relax a bit, almost inspiring himself from Van Cogh's trend to transfigurate simple objects, f.ex. a room or field, by hinting towards a supernatural horizon, beyond its physical limits... (In addition, since the creation of a garden at the flat top of the building, according to Le Corbysier's recipes, seemed forbidden, "EuroFora"s suggestion to use the School's superb, High Walls to project photos/films picturing f.ex. eyecatching overviews giving an impression of open space, was apparently, already on the way)..

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=> In consequence, a lot among the most important 2013 projects are located right at the front of Marseille's Seaport, and radically change the seaside, by almost penetrating inside the Sea, (as f.ex. nearby Monaco has already started to do, f.ex. with its famous Oceanographic Museum, half located under sea-level, etc). :

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- Either transforming the use of a pre-existing building : F.ex. 15.000 m2 at the Castle of saint John, which becomes a Garden and part of the MuCEM Museum (See infra). The giant "Silo", at the Docks (See supra). The spectacular, giant "Hotel Dieu", a former Hospital, due to become a 5 stars "InterContinental" Hotêl with a superb view right in front of the biggest sight-seing of Historic Marseille : the 200 m high Hill of the Church of "Notre Dame de la Garde". The "Parvis" : a more than 1 km long Dike, with a wide, build corridor up to a 1st floor,  leading towards deep Sea's horizon, in front of 3 islets, after crossing throughout all Marseille's Seaport with plenty of eye-catching views,  (See reelevant Photos), which will be restored and opened to the Public. The "J1" Boathouse hangard, ideally located at the Seaport's center, which will house both the Port's Management, and a public Exhibition hall, Citizens' participation, etc., "because we want to highlight everywhere the combination of Economy and Culture", as MP2013's director, Ulrich Fuchs from Germany's Bavaria, (who has already  a previous EU Cultural Capital experience at Linz in Austria), told "EuroFora". (etc).        

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- Or even by creating New Buildings, inside the Sea : F. ex. the new, main part, of the National Museum for Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM), a 17.000 m2 wide modern building, connected by a bridge with the Castle saint John, as an extension at the end of the Seaport. Or the nearby "Regional Center for the Mediterranean", alias "CEREM", built by the Region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, with an original Architecture where "the Sea is part of the Building", as its Italian Architect characteristically said, due to serve as Public and/or Experts' meeting place for People from all over the Mediterranean civil society, who will be able to enter "inside" even through the Water, navigating with small, f.ex. speed Boats, etc. (See also infra) ; (etc).

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=> In total, with more than 600 Millions € invested for new infrastructures, the Marseille-Provence 2013 EU Culture capital operation, (which extends also to Marseille's hinterland, with a large part of beautiful Landscapes, full of History and Culture, both ancient and modern, including several "poles of Excellence" in Science and Technology around nearby sister city Aix : See infra), aims to "prove, also at EU level, that Culture is a driving force for Development, as well as an Economic sector in itself, with Thousands of professionals involved in "new services", which offer also jobs and a better Quality of life to Citizens", as stressed Marseille's Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin, speaking to Journalists, including "EuroFora", yesterday at the "Silo" (comp. supra).


Moreover, only a simple Presentation of the main, among various Cultural Events prepared by Marseille/Provence for 2013, took many Hours, at the official anouncement of the Programme to the Press, until late Evening, exhausting even the more curious among Journalists by the quantity of events, even if they were cited briefly, and despite the fact that even the last to be mentioned were really interesting :


- As, f.ex. the Restoration of the old building where had been projected the 1st Films in the History of Cinema by the World famous "Lumiere brothers", at ciné - Alhambra, due to become a Museum and Audio-visual School ; or the re-fabrication of a replica of a real Ancient Wooden Ship by a modern Factory, according to the model found near Marseille's Seaport and dating some 2.500 years, (part of a Series of Ancient Greek and Roman Ships found and restored at the city's Historic Museum, there where the Greeks founded, 2.600 years ago, the most important Seaport in Eastern Mediterranean, which progressively became, after the addition of Aix by the Romans, a birthplace of modern France, linked also to Italy, Switzerland, Germany and "Mittel-Europa" through the "vertical", "North-South" River Rhone axis, which communicates with the Rhine river near Stasbourg)...

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+ In the meantime,  fast-growing Cruise Ship trips have considerably augmented around Marseille, passing from 18.000 up to 900.000 visitors yearly,  in less than 15 years, travelling from Marseille mainly at the Western Mediterranean Sea, (f.ex. to Genova, Roma, Barcelona, Tunisia, Alger, Malta, etc.) a City's Senior Official on Tourism, told "EuroFora".  


This is added to more than 215.000 Congres'days yearly, in a City which recently attracts some + 5.000 new permanent Citizens each year, Gaudin  also noted.
As, f.ex. "Charles", an Electronic engineer based in Paris, close to the prestigious "Defense" High-Tech quarter, who leaves his main Home "every week" in order to "manage a Factory" on Digital micro-electronics equipment located at ... Aix-en-Provence, near Marseille, where he comes and goes rapidly thanks to a modern and well organized "TGV" ("High Speed Train") Network, whose High-Tech looking base was built right in the middle of a beautiful Aix-en-Provence's Nature, with a superbe view to the surrounding Mountains, (see also infra), as he told to "EuroFora", met there while waiting for the right train to Strasbourg..


Or young Digital Art/Events creator Pierre Giner, (http://www.pierreginer.fr/i-dance-pierre-giner/) attracted far away from his favorite Shanghai (China), to Marseilles by the 2013 EU Culture operation, which will include also "Digital Media" content creators, in so differend locations as :


- both in "the largest Cultural Development Site in Europe"  : as the organizers call "La Belle of May", a 30 acres-large former Tobacco Factory located in the middle of the poorest neighborhood of Marseille, dedicated to AudioVisual Archives and Research, AV. Media, Arts and Spectacle, with Hundreds of emerging Businesses, Associations and Public Services working for years to complete an ambitious collective plan due to help boost new creations,

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+ and the prestigious "Foundation Vasarely", a superb, Innovative Architecture Building designed by -and dedicated to the World-Famous Hungarian origin Modern Art painter Victor Vasarely, inventor of the "Cinetic" and "Optic Art" concept, located on a Hill facing at the Horizon line the best Mountains of Aix-en-Provence, which will be renovated and extended to include also Digital Media and an Art School from 2013.

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But, in order to have a real Economic and Social base, the Cultural Attractivity of any area, be it Euro-Mediterranean or other, must, today more than ever, obviously "include also the Scientific Culture", pointed out the active Mayor of Aix, Maryse Joissains-Masini.


In this regard, in addition to  the Historic but also brand new Aix-Marseille University, recently unified (as Strasbourg's own mega-University), whose reputation, as "EuroFora" has found at various occasions, grows recently, she cited also the "Poles of Excellence" officially recognized and organized, in cooperation with High-Tech Industry and Research, at the Aix-en-Provence area, Marseilles' hinterland :

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- "Out of a total of 8 Poles of Excellence existing throughout all France, we have 5 here", Aix's Mayor proudly told "EuroFora", pointing f.ex. at so various areas of Science and Technology as Energy (both Nuclear, and Solar, together with other Renewables), Micro- and Nano-Electronics, Bio-Technologies and Medicine, etc.
However, Maryse Joissains-Masini (who looks fond to work together with Marseille's Mayor Gaudin), also reminded to "EuroFora" that she was the Lawyer defending the Families of the Victims in the famous case of the "Contaminated Blood", a huge and deadly scandal involving some irresponsible Technocrats in the Past of former "Socialist" Governments in France, which had provided an occasion to establish legally the "Precautionary Principle" in BioEthics, of growing importance today.


 - "But we should always use the Precautionary Principle without excess", she carefully advised now, given also several Researchers' complaints against some legal restrictions that they may feel useless or undue, independently of whether they may be right or wrong at a precuse moment on a precise issue, often of great importance for People's Health, for the respect of Human Dignity, or even for all Humankind.
Nevertheless, Aix-en-Provence's Mayor, experienced Lawyer Maryse Joissains-Masini, also agreed spontaneously with "EuroFora"s observation that, in fact, for real and honest Intellectuals, the "Precautionary Principle" may be not just an obstacle for their Scientific-Technological Research, but also a Driving Force able to legitimize and even show the Need for many more Scientific Research to be done, both in the present and in the Future, when it comes to cover the need f.ex. to ensure that Human Health, Dignity or even all Humankind will find efficient ways to be protected from any possible Risk or threat which might be eventually provoked in case of abuse of modern techniques f.ex. by a few irresponsible and/or selfish petty Technocrats without Social and Human Conscience :


- "Yes : That's precisely what should start to be done right Now !", the experienced and active, twice Elected Politician and Top Lawyer on Bioethical issues immediately replied to that "EuroFora"s observation, (before being suddenly interrupted by a demand to meet other Polirticians, which postponed our encounter at the most important point)..


However, Aix-en-Provence's young Dean, Professor Pena, speaking later to "Eurofora", observed that, in addition to several other areas (almost coinciding with the "Poles of Excellence" evoked supra), is also particularly efficient on Law, not only for Historic reasons, (Aix having been the No 1 Court of Appeals' area in France in the Past, etc), but also because several Legal disciplines (eventually including also BioEthics, etc) had been recently united together inside a Pole of Exvellence which cooperated also with CNRS, the prestigious National Research Center in France. And "this includes, particularly, a strong section focusing on International and Humanitarian Law", he added, pointing at something of obvious interest and utility in the conflict-ridden Mediterranean and Middle-East area...
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All this Scientific and Technologic potential obviously needs to be translated in concrete terms in real Economy, if the strategic and historic Marseille-Provence region is to bring a key-contribution to Euro-Mediterranean relations in the foreseable Future :

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- MEP Dominique Vlasto, (an active Member of EU Parliament's Committees on Transports, Relations with Maghreb and Foreign Policy, as well as of the Union for the Mediterranean's Assembly), speaking to "EuroFora", pointed out to the "various, recent EU programs, of particular interrest for the EuroMediterranean area", that Marseille can contribute to advance forward : 

+ "In addition, in the foreseeable Future, to the inclusion of FOS in EU Plans", she stressed in conclusion, evoking the huge, High-Tech and modern Liquefied Natural Gas mega-Terminal, recently built at Foss II, near Marseille, able to deal with big amounts of Strategic Energy Transports of NLG which can be transported by Ships, thanks to New Technologies, throughout the Mediterranean Sea towards the rest of the EU (including f.ex. Germany and Central Europe via Rhone - Rhine rivers links, etc), via Suez Channel, from Algeria, Nigeria, and/or from the currently emerging Oil/Gas mega-findings area at the South-Eastern Mediterranean Sea, mainly between Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, and EU Member Country Cyprus :


i.e. Energy sources partly located inside EU Territory, (and easy to transport DIRECTLY into EU Industry, without imposing any hazardous interposition of any Foreign 3rd Country which might endanged the transit), which might, eventually, be of similar Great Importance as the Oil/Gas recent findings by the USA in the Mexico's Gulf, (+ 52M of USA's needs, according to former US President GWBush) of similar Geological formation as that South-Eastern Mediterranean area, (See "EuroFora"s analysis on that issue, already evoked in previous NewsReports, according to "EuroFora"s co-Founder's original, pioneer Newsreports and various Publications already made as early as since 2001-2002).
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=> What overall Message for the Euro-Mediterranean Present and Future ?
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=> But what could be the main thrust of the overall Meaning for Europe and the Mediterranean behind all these pioneer efforts done by Marseille/Provence, France and the EU for the 2013 European Cultural Capital event ? What unifying principle and guiding idea, able to "speak to the People" that all this concerns objectively and aims to actively attract and involve in the foreseeable Future ?

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- Experienced Top Politician, (and "king-maker" in National politics according to several sources), Marseille's Mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin (of the Governing Majority UMP), opened the scene, yesterday at the "Silo" (see supra), and today at the spectacular "Foundation Vasarely", by putting the access on revitalizing and modernizing Today an Historic Link for "exchanges between Civilisations" accross the Mediterranean Sea, (as symbolized also by the Ancient Greek and Roman Ships found in Marseille, aged 2.600).

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- Provence-Cote d'Azur Region's President, Michel Vauzelle (PSoc), speaking this Morning to Journalists, including "EuroFora", preferred rather to focus, on the occasion of CEREM (see supra) more on Civil Society Networking, "if States definitively fail" to make Mediterranean peaceful and prosperous, as he said, which should bring together both the Large Public, and a "reserved" are for Scientists, Engineers, Artists, etc, from all neighbouring Countries, as he said.


+ Aix's Mayor, Lawyer Maryse Joissains-Masini, tried a Synthesis pointing at  Culture, as the "Art to create Cohesion" (Coherence) between different and respected, but complementary Identities, according to her own words.
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Waiting for French President Nicolas Sarkozy's next week speech at Marseille on the world of Culture in general, (See supra), "EuroFora", for the moment, had to run to catch up the last High-Speed Train (TGV) from the High-Tech, brand new, impressively Modern Mega-TGV crossroads' Station, located right in the middle of a superbe Natural Landscape at nearby Aix-en-Provence.

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In front of it, at the crossroads between Paris and Marseille, stands the famous, majestic "Holy Victory" Mountain, (the biggest part of a long series of interesting Mountain Tops, some of which reportedly are so old that they covered even Dinosaure's eggs, among spectacular shapes of giant rocks at their top) : World famous painters Cezanne, Picasso, Kadinsky, etc., who loved to live at the area in the recent past, have notoriously pictured that "Holy Victory" big Mountain in various artistic works.

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=> A timely and good Symbol of what EU Citizens may dream for modern European Democracy and Human Rights, Peace, Development and Innovation proclaimed Values to positively and victoriously interact in the Mediterranean area, Historic Mother of most Civilisations ?

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 (NDLR : "DraftNews", as already sent to "EuroFora"s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate and complete, Final Version, as well as related but more particular papers, are due asap, according to developments).

 

***

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Benedict's "Source" to revitalize Europe : - "The World needs Hope", Pope says, calling to relaunch E.U. via Human Rights !

Paris - Lourdes - Strasbourg : 12 - 17 September 2008.

The vital need to re-launch Europe can be succesfully met by defending fundamental Human Rights of the People, said Pope Benedict XVI in his 1st speech in France, at his meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, who currently chairs the EU.

Sarkozy replied by welcoming Christian and other religions' contribution to indispensable Public Debates on crucial issues which affect Human Dignity, Europe, even Humankind, as BioGenetics.

- "When Europeans will see and personally experience that the inalienable Rights of the Human Person .., those of their free Education, their Family life, their Work, ..their Religious Rights, ..are respected and promoted, then, these Europeans will fully understand the greatness of the European construction and will be actively involved in it", Benedict XVI stressed.

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- "It's important that during France's EU Presidency, there is, indeed, a desire for the Church to contribute to protect Human Person's integrity, and I think that there is also a growing Conscience, beyond any polemics, to defend Human Rights, and, thus, contribute to ensure respect for Human Dignity", added to "EuroFora" the Pope's Spokesman, Vatican's Press Director Federico Lombardi.

- "Nobody really told us here that Lisbon Treaty was good for this or that reason to the People. They only told us that we "had" to ratify it, and tried to scare us, but failed", said 2 Irish pilgrims to "EuroFora", after 2 Majority Abstentions in 1999 and 2004 EU Elections and 3 "NO" to Referenda in France and the Netherlands in 2005, followed by the Irish "No" in 2008, during a Decade of EU Crisis since the controversial Turkey EU- bid (1999-2008).

More than .."224 cases of Murders, Torture, "Disappearancies" or Destructions" by "agents of Turkish Security forces", where all those responsible for so heavy Crimes still remain scandalously unpunished, despite regular condemnations of Ankara by Strasbourg''s European Court of Human Rights from 1996 to 2008, were examined the same week by CoE's Ministers, who decided to launch a fresh call "urging" the Turkish Authorities to end this dangerous "virtual Impunity" of criminals, without comparison to European countries.

- "Why not Ukraine, instead of Turkey ?", asked EuroFora a Journalist from "Kiev : the city where it's enough to cross the streets in order to realize that it's a European town", as Sarkozy recently said, before solemnly declaring this week, together with Ukranian President Jushenko and EU Commission's chair Baroso, EU's "recognition that Ukraine is a fully European Country, linked to Europe by culture and History".

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Europe's "Christian roots" and Values, with "openess and mutual respect" to other cultures and beliefs, were highlighted by Sarkozy in harmony with Benedict XVI.

The Human person should be protected "from his inception until his natural death", added the Pope, faithful to BioEthic principles defended by his predecessor and collaborator, John Paul II, of topical importance in France, Europe and the World today, as Sarkozy announced :

- "Fast and important progres in Genetic Science and procreation raise delicate BioEthical Questions to our Democracies", which "involve our view of Humans and Life, and can lead to Social Mutations. That's why they cannot remain only a business of experts", hestressed.

- "It's Politician's responsibility to set a proper framework for such Public Debates", as "France will do on BioEthics in 2009". "Religious and Philosophic traditions must take part, with their ideas and centuries' long experience : A positive Laicity is an open invitation to Dialogue", he said.

- "France engaged in Europe at another Debate on how to make Financial Capitalism more moral", and the "Social doctrine of the Church fits well what is at stake in modern Globalized Economy"

- "But, a "Real Dialogue is not for an elite of a Globalized world : It penetrates deep into the People : That's why Churches should actively participate : .. It's bringing New Oxygen to Public Debates", stressed Sarkozy.

- "Democracy must not be cut off Reason", which is "compatible with Faith", thanks to "the meeting between Christianism and Greek philosophy ", he added, referring to Pope's views. "It means to advance with logic arguments, search what's best and respect common principles of thinking :... It's an everyday need for Public Administration and the Political Debate", he added.
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Pope Benedict's 1st visit to France looked like the start of a brillant, manifold demonstration that this was well-founded and could become true in the lives of the People : After its Theoretical foundations unfolded at a "speech to the world of Culture", inaugurating Bernadins' cultural centre, and its dogmatic instrument shaped at an address to the Clergy in the Historic Notre Dame' Cathedral, he started to resolutely reach out to the People :

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The move went upwards like Bach's music : Begining with a call to more than fifteen thousand enthousiastic Youngsters gathered at Notre Dame's parvis with overnight celebrations, it gained strength in an impressive open-air Mass at Paris'central Invalides'area facing Alexander III's bridge, attended by more than 150.000 people, French Prime Minister Fillon, many Ministers, Foreign Ambassadors, etc, and culminated in a series of pan-European Mega-meetings at Lourdes 150th anniversary, together with all French Bishops, EU Commission's vice-Chairman Barrot, and some 200.000 enthousiastic People from all over Europe and beyond : After a Sea of Lights astonishingly braved Saturday Night's rain, an open-air mass at riverside fields among Pyrenees' Mountains Sunday Morning, was followed on Monday by a Sea of "Compassion" to those facing Health or Life threats, surrounded by an endless gathering of People, whose gigantic dimensions obviously surprised the organisers..

Meanwhile, Benedict had the occasion to speak to the French Priests at Notre Dame of Paris, and with the Bishops at Lourdes, where they prepare a crucial November plenary meeting, due to take important decisions on imminent EU debates and choices about Europe's identity, BioEthics, etc.
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- "A new way of thinking about Laicity has become necessary", agreed the Pope with President Sarkozy at Elysee. While keeping the "distinction between Politics and Religion, to guarantee Citizens' Liberty", "religion is important for shaping Consciousness and contributing, together with others, to create a basic Ethical Consensus in society".

- "Searching Essential realities", (as "God" for christians), needs "Speech : "Logos" in greek, i.e. Reason", "able to shape a Community","with creative work transforming Human History". But "Dialogue" is instrumental for "Reason", because it's the way to "search" for Truth", in "Liberty", according to Greek Platonic Philosophy, with Socrates' dialectics. "Reason" implies "Spirit and Liberty", hence the polyphonic "Music" of "Dialogue", in a responsible, "well balanced" way, to avoid "destruction".

Starting with a "Dialogue between christians and intellectual or artistic movements" highlighted at Bernardins' Cultural Center. with former Presidents Chirac and Giscard d'Estain, UNESCO's chair Anastassopoulos, etc., as well as representatives of Muslim Communities, (including a separate Turkish), after contacts with Jews at Vatican's Embassy, the Pope turned towards the People :

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To French Priests : "Church built on the rock" !
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- Speaking to thousands of French Priests at Notre Dame's Cathedral, Benedict highlighted a solid "Church built on the Rock" of conscious and active persons, transmitting "a lively, energetic and sharp" "God's Speech, actively working on Human History".

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"Praying together" with "representatives of Christian Churches and ecclesiastic communities", (as Orthodoxes, Armenians, Protestants, etc), he called "to reinforce the Unity of the church", against "any form of Division", around Holy Spirit', "the Word","Christ's Justice", and "Love" to fellow- humans : Essentials which "resume all holy scripts", as he said.

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To Young People : "New Horizons"
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To some 15.000 enthousiastic Young People at Notre Dame's parvis, along Seine's river, Benedict spoke about "the Energy of the Holy Spirit" and "the Mystery of the Cross" : - "The Holy Spirit opens New Horizons to Human Intelligence .. and makes it conscious of the real greatness of Christ's sacrifice, dying and resurecting for World's life".

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Some "may slander you as crazy, laugh at you, or even persecute you. But, "the Holy Cross is a symbol of God's love", and "givesmoral strength" : "Witness of People's pains, it's at the same time, a precious, unique expression of their Hopes", he told them at Paris' dawn.

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Invalides' plateau : "People chosen to become God's friends"
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At the 1st open-air Mass in Paris' center area of Invalides, facing the Grand Palais, along the river Seine, during an impressive gathering of more than 150.000, French Prime Minister Fillon, Ministers Alliot-Marie, Bachelot, Dati, Jouyet, Assembly's President Accoyer, Senate's Chair Poncelet, former 1st Lady Bernadette Chirac, former Prime Minister Raffarin, many foreign Ambassadors, and other political personalities were present. (While earlier, from the Socialist opposition, Paris' Mayor Delanoye, artist Robert Hussein a.o. assisted at the Elysee meeting).

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But the "Entry Song" focused on the "People chosen to become God's Friends". The September 11 mass was Dedicated to "Saint Chrysostomus, that great priest of Constantinople", with his "wonderful eloquence and great courage to face challenges", who "made out of despaired and godless people, a people of brothers", opening a possibility to "become all one complete entity", as Pope Benedict reminded.

- "Reason never enters in real contradiction with Faith", stressed Pope Benedict, who prepared his speeches for France during a short Summer rest at Brixen/Bressanone's Seminar, whose Library honors both "Faith and Science".. - "We must use not only our Reason, but also our Faith" : "Get away from Idolatry", "cupidity", "avidity for money, power or even knowledge deviating from essential aims", and other "falses appearances". and "build your Home on the Rock", "with the force that Holy Spirit gives to those who let it act in them", he said to the People of Paris.

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Benedict at Lourdes : - "Become Light (even) in the Dark !"
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- "Our World needs Hope", stressed Pope Benedict, addressing an impressive TorchLight procession at Lourdes' sanctuaries, where a Sea of Lights held by Hundreds of Thousands of People gathered at Pyrenee's Mountains from all over Europe astonishingly kept their flames despite a heavy Rain at a windy Dark Night...

- "150 years earlier (1858 - 2008), ..here, in the cave, ... a simple young girl, Bernadette .. saw a Light". "The everyday life of her Family was, however, made of Misery, Sadness, Sickness, Misunderstandings, Rejection and Poverty... It was hard to live in Jail". Today, "we think to all Human Beings who suffer : The innocent Victims who face Violence, War, Terrorism, Hunger, Injustices, Catastrophes, Hate and Oppression, Violations of Human Dignity and of their fundamental Rights, of their Liberty to act and think. We also think to those who face Familial problems, sufferings from Unemployment, Sickness, Infirmity, Isolation, or their situation as Immigrants, without forgetting those who suffer and die for the name of Christ", he said.

- "But the Shadows of the Earth, did not hinder Sky's Light to shine : <<The Light shines in the Dark>>" ..."A Way full of Light opens in Human History even in its Darkest moments" : ..."As Night falls, Christ tels us : <<- Keep your Lamps alight !>>."Hold a Light while walking in the Night .. sums up our condition as Christians on their way : "We need light, and we are called to become Light !", Benedict stressed to People setting in motion Lights, Flags and Songs with enthousiasm.

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"<<- She looked at me as a Person, who speaks to another Person>>, the poor girl had noted."Light emerges from such a Dialogue", stressed the Pope : "A small Flame called Hope, Compassion and Tenderness dwells inside those who return after being moved by Lourdes' experience". "Christ .. entrusts us with the Mission to let the Light of Charity shine : To make of our Prayers an Act of Love to our brothers and to Fraternal Charity", he concluded.

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(../..)

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