Seminar organised by the Groupement d’études et de recherches “Notre Europe” and the Greek centre for European studies EKEM Athens, 13-14 November 1998.
With the start of enlargement negotiations between the European Union and the countries of central and Eastern Europe, it is time, more than ever before, for a vast offensive on perceptions of Europe and its identities.
How can we ensure that diversity thrives in a pluralist society for our mutual benefit and the common good? Is there a “European model” which distinguishes us from the rest of the world ? These are the sort of questions being posed today.
This is why the Research and Policy Unit, “Notre Europe” and the Greek Centre for European Studies (EKEM) decided to organise a seminar in Athens on 13-14 November 1998 addressing the diverse political, sociological and cultural facets of European identity. About thirty participants from political, intellectual and academic circles from West, East and central Europe gathered together.
As you will see in reading this summary report, the discussions were lively, indeed passionate. So much the better. For it is only through a frank and open dialogue that a common political conscience will develop and this always occasions tensions between varying interests, opinions, points of view and cultures. For a common political project to exist, European integration needs to confront – albeit it in a civilised manner – its divergences, whether they are artificial constructs or passive assumptions.
It is a complex task at a time when the Balkans are once more experiencing tragedy. In order to build a lasting peace, they will have to rediscover shared values and learn to live together once again in mutual understanding and respect.
Has this not been the aim of European integration from the very beginning?
Paris, May 1999