Building a safe European home; Podium

From a speech by the President of Finland to mark Europe Day, delivered in Turku, Finland

IN RECENT weeks Europe has been experiencing a brutality that had been believed to belong to history. People are being driven from their homes and made refugees. Extreme nationalism has brought enormous suffering to innocent civilians. Albanians who have fled Kosovo put a face on this suffering. For them, reaching a safe place is a welcome relief, but it does not get rid of the pain caused by injustice, cruelty and being violently expelled from their homes. The events in Kosovo pose a serious question to us: how can we build a common European home if ordinary Europeans have no right to a home of their own?

The most important goal of European integration is still that of building and strengthening peace. There is no peace in Europe unless human rights are respected in every part of the continent.

Europe is integrating and the EU, as the locomotive of this development, has enlarged. The benefits of integration have not yet been distributed evenly throughout Europe. In Western Europe we have been able to enjoy the fruits of co-operation. In Central and Eastern Europe democracies are being built now that the restrictions of the Cold War have been removed. In Russia and many other parts of the former Soviet Union, the work of restructuring society has only just begun. In the Balkans we see hatred between neighbours, violence and massive floods of refugees. We are a good way along the road of integration, but when we look at the challenges of the new millennium, we have taken only the first steps.

Today the Union faces major challenges, internal and external. The Kosovo crisis has shown how important it is to find the most effective institutions and methods for preventing and solving crises that we can. The European Union is growing into a significant economic and political actor everywhere in the world. The European Communities were originally created because the integration that they promoted would make new wars both unnecessary and impossible.

This does not mean that the Union should not now, in new circumstances, have the capability to intervene, militarily if necessary, in crises that erupt in Europe.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Union's common foreign and security policy will be developed by creating the post of High Representative for the common foreign and security policy, as well as a policy planning and early warning unit.

During the Amsterdam negotiations, the member states failed to reach agreement on developing the work of the Commission, increasing the use of qualified-majority voting and adjusting vote weightings. The resignation of the Commission has brought the need for administrative changes more sharply into focus.

The Commission's work should be made more effective especially where external relations and resource management are concerned. The portfolios and directorates-general should be reorganised. I would propose a system in which the President of the Commission is assisted by two vice-presidents responsible for broader totalities, ie external relations and management of resources. They and the Commission members responsible for the appropriate sectors would constitute a distinct team. Where external relations are concerned, changes of this kind would facilitate cooperation between the new Council's High Representative and the Commission, as well as between the Commission and the member states.

European integration is going through a rough period, but it must not end. Far from it! Right now, Europe must be able to shoulder central responsibility for taking care of the massive refugee problem. A lack of co-ordination between international organisations and instances of downright negligence were contributory factors in the delay in getting effective relief work under way in the region.

There has been a proposal in EU circles that a stabilisation conference for south-east Europe should be arranged. The various parties participating would draft a comprehensive long-term plan to strengthen peace, human rights and democracy in the region. That would make it possible to begin a development that would give the countries of the region and their citizens an opportunity to participate in European co-operation and share its fruits.

Over the long term, integration and enlargement of the European Union are the best guarantees of peace. They likewise help create the conditions that are essential for broad co-operation encompassing the entire continent.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past