Saturday, May 9, 2015
On the eve of the double commemorative events, commemorating both the 65th anniversary of the official birth of the European Union on May 9, 1950, with the Schuman Declaration, and one of the most important milestones in European history, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. The Christian Political Foundation for Europe (CPFE) in partnership with the Schuman Centre for European Studies arranged on the 8 and 9 May in Riga, ‘’The State of Europe Forum’’.
The Forum drew prominent European intellectuals, and individuals from many church traditions to Riga, to further reflect on the state of Europe today, in the light of the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman’s vision in 1950 for a ‘community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’.
The opening of the event in the St Peters Church in Riga included a performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s ‘’Ode to Joy’’ by the young talented musicians of the Riga based Armonico Youth Chamber Orchestra.
Speakers included Prof Dr Tomas Halik (Charles University, Prague), Tunne Kelam, MEP (Tallinn), Prof. Dr Andrey Zubov (Moscow), Prof. Prahu Guptara (Zurich), Dr Jenny Taylor (London), Cardinal Jānis Pujats, (Rīga); Inga Bite (Latvian MP), Ainars Bastiks, (Riga City Councillor), among others.
They all addressed the current European challenges under reference to the theme “Fear not!’ This theme echoes the words of Jesus, repeated by Pope John Paul II in Warsaw in 1979, which stirred a revolution of the human spirit culminating in the fall of communism a decade later. These reassuring words were departure and arrival when the speakers addressed current tensions within and around Europe. The Ukraine crisis and Russian expansionism, IS extremism, Gaza violence, the ebola outbreak, ongoing financial uncertainty, waves of illegal immigrants; all these issues were part of this reflection on the State of Europe.
Jeff Fountain, director of the Schuman Centre for European Studies, in his brief reflection on the meaning of events of 65 years ago. Asked the question ‘’Why are we here in Riga for the Forum’’?. ‘’We are all conscious as we came together this year in Riga that peace is more fragile than it seemed to be say two years ago when we gathered in Dublin for the same event. That is why we hold the State of Europe Forum each year in the capital of the country holding the EU presidency; to evaluate the state of Europe in the light of Robert Schuman’s original vision of Europe to become a community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian values’’ said Fountain
A detailed report of the event will be published soon by the Schumann Centre for European Studies at the State of Europe Forum Website.
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