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Home arrow newsitems arrow Commonwealth's Chief Rabbi, Sir Sacks, to "EuroFora" : "Truth can unite People for a Better Future"

Commonwealth's Chief Rabbi, Sir Sacks, to "EuroFora" : "Truth can unite People for a Better Future"

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
    Commonwealth's Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, to "EuroFora" : Truth on Dark Past, can unite People for a better Future.

- EU Parliament's President, German ChristianDemocrat MEP Hans Gert Poettering, backs the move.

     Truth, even on the darkest tragedies of division, can unite People together for a better common Future, agreed Commonwealth and UK's Chief Rabbi, Sir  Jonathan Sacks, in reply to a question by "EuroFora" at a Press Conference with EU Parliament's President Hans Gert Poettering, in Strasbourg,

    - "We must always confront the TRUTH, and remember the Truth. The Alternative is to live a Lie !".

    - "And we must remember, both our People's sufferings, and other People's sufferings. For one specific purpose : We cannot change the Past, but, by remembering the Past, we can change the Future", he stressed. "We must remember Not in anger, resent or revenge, but always looking towards the Future, and to Hope", concluded Commonwealth's Chief Rabbi, Sir Sacks.

    He was replying to a "EuroFora's Question if he felt important, not only for Human Rights, but also Moraly and even Politicaly, "no to hide, but to find the Truth, on what really happened in serious Tragedies, as f.ex. on "Missing" persons or others, not in order to provoke hate, but, on the contrary, to bring together the People, as a guarantee that this will never happen again in Future". I.e. "using bad times they shared in Past divisions, in order to head towards a better common Future".

    - "What can bring ..together is a shared History of suffering", "take bad moments and use them to bring People together, because they are suffering together", he advised earlier.

    - "I completely agree with what the Rabbi said", echoed EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert POETTERING, who had introduced our Question. Poettering, a German MEP whose own father was killed during the 2nd World War, and a convinced European, reminded that EU Parliament had just "held a Commemoration to mark the 70th anniversary of the "Crystal Night", or "ReichsPogromNacht" :- "Such Tragedies, as also Shoah, Pogrom, Intolerance, etc., teach us a lesson that must be never forgotten", stressed EU Parliament's President this week in Strasbourg.
    We had warned the Chief Rabbi that we raised that question after coming from an exceptional ECHR's Hearing on the tragic cases of 9 People gonne "Missing", until one of them was found killed with bullets shot at his head from short distance. -"Never mind where this happened, never mind who was the responsible State. But as a matter of general principle", we told Sir Jonathan Sacks.

    Significantly, the Commonwealth's Chief Rabbi made that point just minutes after the first in History ECHR's public hearing on Cyprus' "Missing" People's tragedy, in the Human Rights' building facing EU Parliament, at the other side of Strasbourg's river.

    The two sons of a peaceful Bank employee, who was kindapped at a coffee-shop by Turkish militia after the 1974 clash with Ankara's army, his bank robbed, his wife left without any news his fate more than 30 years, until his body was found recently with bullets shot at his head, but without knowing who was responsible for the brutal killing, eyed a representative of the Turkish government multiply legal technicalities against any complaint...

    Obviously seized by strong emotions, they didn't say a word.

    A Greek Cypriot Lawyer expressed  "sympathy" for some Turkish Cypriot "Missing" people's families affected at earlier clashes, but stressed also his belief that if they had lodged an application in Cyprus, the Government would have done all its possible to help them, while, on the contrary, Ankara never did any efficient investigation for thousands of Greek Cypriots gone "Missing" after the Turkish military invasion of 1974, despite repeated CoE and ECHR's calls since a 1992 Report and a 2001 judgement.

    Old women and other representatives of 9 persons gone "Missing" without any news about them, were present. One, tears in her eyes, told "Eurofora"  - "I searched everywhere. I went to all demonstrations with other families, in vain, Eye-witnesses said that they saw him in prison in mainland Turkey, but afterwards, nothing. I waited for him for years, and my life withered away for three decades. They owe us the truth. This must not be forgotten !".

    The Chief Rabbi spoke side to side with EU Parliament's President, Hans Gert Poettering, who said that he "completely agreed" on that, and, replying to a related question by "EuroFora", pleaded for a "Dialogue between Religions" to continue, even after his current term, hopping also that, after representatives of Muslims, the Dalai Lama, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomeos and the Chief Rabbi, EU Parliament will succeed also to welcome the Christian Catholic Pope Benedict XVI, a worlwide Moral leader, even if "it might take as long to prepare as with his predecessor, John Paul II", who visited Strasbourg 20 years earlier, in 1988.



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Recent developments proved that Europe can suceed to overcome challenges by aiming at great objectives, and this is needed also in 2009, said EU chairman, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    - "It's in the name of Great Ideas, Projects, Ambition and Ideals, that EU can overcome" challenges, stressed Sarkozy at EU Parliament in Strasbourg, in conclusion of a dense 7 months EU Chairmanship. "It's even easier for Europe to have Great projects, able to overcome national egoism, instead of limiting itself only to small projects" (unable to do alike), he observed.     

- "Europe must remain Ambitious and understand that the World needs her to take Decisions". "The World needs a Strong Europe", which "thinks on its own, has convictions, its own responses, its imagination" : "A Europe which does not limit itself into following" others, (as it did in the Past, when it followed USA, f.ex. on Bosnia). On the contrary, "Europe should undertake its own responsibilities", he said, after a series of succes in stopping the War between Russia and Georgia, and organizing the 1st EuroZone's Summit in Paris, which incited the Washington DC G-20 Summit to extend similar decisions World-wide.  

    - "When you sweep it all under the carpet, prepare yourself for hard tomorrows", he warned. "What hinders decisions is the lack of Courage and Will, the fading away of Ideals", he stressed before EU Parliament's 2008 debate on Human Rights and Sakharov prize on Freedom of thought attributed by MEPs to Chinese cyber-dissident Hu Jia, followed by an EU - Turkey meeting on Friday.

    - "I don't abandon my convictions" and "I will take initiatives" on EU level also in 2009, Sarkozy announced later. "France will not stop having convictions and taking initiatives" on Europe. + "It's an Error to wish to pass over the Heads of those who are elected in their Countries" : "It's an integrism I always fought against"', he warned.
French EU Presidency faced 4 unexpected Crisis :

- An institutional crisis, with the Irish "No" to EU Lisbon Treaty, just before it started. A geopolitical crisis, wth the threat of War between Russia and Georgia risking to throw Europe back to Cold-war divisions, on August. A World-wide Financial and Economic crisis, arriving at a bad moment before crucial 2009 EU elections. And even a Strasbourg's mini-crisis, with EU Parliament's roof curiously falling down, from unknown reasons, in a brand new building on August, provoking an unprecedented transfert of the 2 September Plenary Sessions...

But it wasn't enough to stop Sarkozy ! On the contrary, it stimulated him...

- "The better way to deal with the recent problems of EU institutions (as the "3 NO" by France, the Netherlands and Ireland) is to take them as a "Test" in order to find solutions closer to Citizens' concerns", said later in Strasbourg Sarkozy's new choice as Ministe for EU affairs, Bruno Le Maire.

- On the Institutional front, Sarkozy gave Time to the Irish to think about it, and stroke on December a deal including a New Referendum after the June 2009 EU Elections, in exchange of a promise to keep the rule of "one EU Commissioner for each EU Member Country", and some opt-outs on Defence and Fiscal EU policies, Abortion, etc. If the Irish get a "Yes" Majority, then the institutional package could be completed in 2010 or 2011 on the occasion of Croatia's probable EU accession.

He was accused in Strasbourg to upgrade EU Council and downgrade EU Commision, but he replied that "strong Political initiatives by EU Council reinforce also the more technical role of EU Commission, under the political-technical leadership of its President", all 3 "working together with EU Parliament".

- But, meanwhile, Sarkozy energetically spearheaded an Historic 1st Summit of EuroZone's 15 Heads of State and Government at EU's core, exceptionally enlarged to a partial participation of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, on October 12 in Paris' Elysee palace, which started to tackle succesfully the growing world Financial crisis.

    It also paved the way for its endorsement by a subsequent Brussels' 27 EU Member States' gathering, before it all come to Washington's G-20 Summit. And "Europe was united, it asked for the 1st G-20 Summit, and it will also organise the next G-20 Summit on April in London", he observed.   

 But a Conference with EU, Russia, African and other Developing Countries, hosted in Strasbourg shortly after Washington G-20 Summit by the French EU Presidency, took a Resolution asking to enlarge participation to Global Economic Governance. Many found, indeed, illogic and unacceptable that f.ex. states as Turkey were given a seat at G-20 level, while all African Countries, and even the African Union itself, representing the greatest Continent on Earth, were excluded...

    Meanwhile, even USA''s "Paulson No 3" Plan, was, in fact, inspired by Europe's No 1 Plan", Sarkozy observed, largelly applauded by MEPs.

    And "Europe showed Solidarity" by mobilizing some 22 Billion credit for Hungary, 1,7 billion for Ukraine, as we do nowadays for Baltic States, etc., he added.

    The move on Economy was extended on December by an EU stimulus' plan totalling some 200 billion Euros, including 5 Billions released by EU Commission for big Projects, as well as various parallel National plans for Economic revival, (fex. 26 billions in France alone). They might appear limited, compared to USA President-elect Obama's reported plan to boost the American economy with 800 billion $, but at least succeded to overcome Europe's divisions for the first time on Economic governance, opening new horizons.

- The French President stressed even harder the unique role of an active EU Council's chairmanship, when he moved swiftly and efficiently, at the beginning of August, to succesfully stop War between Russia and Georgia, at the last minute, which threatened to bring Europe back to Cold War division.

"We (EU) also wanted to avoid a situation like in Bosnia, in the Past, when EU was absent, so that our American friends took their responsibilitues, and EU only followed", despite the fact that the conflict took place in Europe. Now, it was the EU who took its responsibilities".

A roadmap towards a new PanEuropean Security policy, before which all unilateral moves to place new Missiles (from USA or Russia) would be freezed, was proposed by Sarkozy after a meeting with Russian president Medvedev, at the eve of Washington DC's G-20 Summit.

Ukraine's "European" character was stressed at a Sarkozy - Jushenko Summit, September in Paris, while EU adopted on December an "Eastern policy", in which, "I'm convinced that our (EU's) future is to find with our Neighbours the conditions for Economic Development. Peace and Security, by explaining them that.. they must respect (Human Rights') Values, and adopt behaviors different from the Past", explained Sarkozy in Strasbourg.

Meanwhile, the "Union for the Mediterranean" was created, since July's Summit if 45 Heads of State and Government in Paris, as "an organisation for a permanent Dialogue, that we need", mainly in order to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by bringing together, for the 1st time, Israelis and Arabs, where "Europe must be present, in order to avoid a frontal clash".

- "If Europe doesn't take its part for Peace in the Middle-East, nobody else will do that in our place", Sarkozy stressed.
    Meanwhile, other EU Agreements were brokered during the French EU Presidency on Immigration, (fex. common Asylum rules, etc), and Climat- Energy :

    - On Climat-Energy, the 2007 German EU Presidency had fixed a triple 20% aim for 2020 (20% renewable Energies, 20% reduction of CO2 emmission, 20% energy efficience/economies), and the 2008 French EU Presidecny realized that, making the necessary compromises in order to modernize EU's industry, but without throwing some former Central-Eastern European Countries into abrupt Economic break down risking "social explosion".

    - Defence-Security EU policy was mainly postponed for April 2009, since both German chancellor Merkel and French president Sarkozy want to strike a deal with the new American president Obama in Strasbourg's NATO Summit.

    However, with all these 4 unexpected Crisis diverting attention to other urgencies, People wil wonder now, what happened to the famous deal proposed by freshly-elected French President Sarkozy on Turkey's controversial EU bid, back on August 2007, to continue EU - Turkey negotiations, but on the double condition that core chapters, intrinsequally linked with EU Membership, will be excluded, and that a collective Reflexion and Debate on Europe's future would start before the end of 2008.

    It was meant to reply to the crucial question : What kind of Europe do we want in 10 or 20 Years from now : A large Market, or a Political Europe, with a popular identity ? In Sarkozy's thinking, presented in his 2 landmark speeches on Europe in Strasbourg, shortly before and after the 2007 Elections, (on February and July 2007), Turkey's controversial EU bid would be incompatible with the second choice.

    It's true that EU Commision's Chairman, Jose Barroso, (who had notoriously declared, as former Portuguese Prime Minister, that he found "nonsense" the idea that Europe might become equal to the US), had repeatedly tried to avoid that Sarkozy's criticism on Turkey might start winning a larger audience in Europe, preferring a discrete "wismens' committee" work. And that most of the personalities later chosen in order to participate in a Committee on Europe's Future, are too much linked with Socialist parties and/or American policies, to be really critical of USA's notorious wish to impose Turkey to the EU, as Sarkozy had noted himself since March 2007..

     - "It's on EU Council's presidency to take political initiatives. EU Commission has other competences", stressed Sarkozy. The "European Ideal" is to "build Europe with the States, not against them". "Ask Europeans to chose between their countries and Europe won't work. You don't choose between your two parents : We must add them together".

    "France and Germany have an Historic Duty to work together, precisely because of what happened to the Past. We have to work hand by hand. We cannot be separated.It goes beyond me and Mrs Merkel today, Mr Schroeder and Mr. Chirac yesterday. It's not a choice, it's a duty to Europe and to the World".  "We need Germany, as Germany needs Europe". Compromise is inevitable, here as everywhere, and each one made some steps towards eachother's positions.

    But "it's true that Mrs Merkel didn't chose her Socialist partners, while I chose mine", Sarkozy said, in an indirect hint that the Socialist Minister of Finance in Germany might be a cause of minor past disagreements in Economy, which were overcome in recent negotiations.

    "We (France and Germany) have particular duties in Europe", but "in a Europe of 27 Member States, it's not enough for France and Germany to agree between them.

    "I always thought that Great Britain has a special role to play in Europe. ... Now, everybody "saw what it cost payed the UK for having been too exclusively open towards the US (and) Financial services. Europe needs the UK, but also the UK needs Europe" :- "We were able to face the hardest moment of the Financial crisis because the UK clearly chose Europe", stressed Sarkozy, reminding Gordon Brown's exceptional participation to the Historic 1st Heads of State/Government Summit of EuroZone, October 12 in Paris (See EuroFora's Reportage from Elysee Palace then).

     - "Some look at Europe with old glasses aged 30 years ago. While we must look at her in relation to what it will be in 30 years" in the Future, Sarkozy concluded.


2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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