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From Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-European

Vision to the Treaty of Athens

Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was a European in the real

sense. His name has roots in Belgium. The family was at

home in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire but the

connection with Japan also embodies the type of

openness, which the new Europe desperately needs. It is

also worth noting that the family has been as active in

media and journalism, exemplifying a true sense of the

European consciousness. Coudenhove-Kalergi describes

the bridge that his Europe had to cross since the 19th

Century. At this time, Europe was made up of large

empires, which represented grandiose imperial ideas –

spawning from nationalism in the latter half of the 19th

century and resulting in the 20th century with two world

wars and the East-West divide. The old Habsburg

monarchy succeeded the Holy Roman Empire – an

imperial idea that elevated the Emperor to representing

God on Earth.

Napoleon attempted to achieve something similar in the

spirit of the Enlightenment. Great Britain pursued empire

building through colonialism, followed by the German

Reich, which Hitler brought to the brink of insanity. The

combination of political development and self-destructive

nationalism resulted in millions of dead on the battlefields

of both world wars. There were many who were aware of

the catastrophe and literature is full of examples. Robert

Musil wrote an essay “Helpless Europe” and Stefan Zweig

described it as the “World of Yesterday”. Karl Kraus called

it “The Last Days of Humanity”. Both, German speaking

authors and European ones, gave the feeling that the old

peace order was lost and a new one was needed. Winston

Churchill called for a “United States of Europe” in his

famous 1946 speech at the University of Zurich. This laid

the groundwork for a generation of politicians who suffered

the consequences of war. The key figures all came from

border regions which lie today in the heart of Europe.

Robert Schumann in Alsace-Lorraine, Konrad Adenauer in

Rhineland and Alcide de Gaspari in Trentino. This resulted

in the Treaties of Rome in 1957, which laid the ground for

Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi’s dream of a “Pan-Europa”

becoming true. It began with six countries: Belgium, the

Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy and Germany –

this community then expanded gradually to include

England, Ireland, Denmark – then on to Spain, Portugal

and Greece and later on to its current composition

including Sweden, Finland and Austria.

It also must be made clear that it was the United States

that pushed for the gradual integration of Europe through

instruments such as the Marshall Plan. Economic

integration was initially championed through the

Organization for European Economic Cooperation

(OEEC), which was a precursor to the OECD – an

organization in which Japan participates. This was also a

response to the challenges presented by the Soviet Union,

the Warsaw Pact and COMECON, the Cold War, the Iron

Curtain and the Berlin Wall, which painfully divided the

continent, meaning the loss of old Europe.

The changes that took place in 1989 gave Europe a

change once again. The example of a successful peace

that reconciled France on one side and Germany, Austria

and Italy on the other, and which brought the western part

of the continent together, provided a vision for a united

Europe. This vision will be brought to yet a higher level

when the Athens Treaty goes into effect on May 1st, 2004 –

when 10 more countries, predominantly from East and

Central Europe - will join the European Union. This is not

the end, however.

In the past great powers involuntarily emerged through

wars, economic developments and sometimes through the

politics of marriage. Our united Europe has come together

through democratically legitimate governments,

parliaments and referendums. This is an impressive

process, which also takes its time.

It is not my task to describe to you in detail how the

European Union functions but rather to present some of

the key ideas behind it, as well as some of the issues that

need to be addressed. It is a huge change in thinking that

the citizens of Europe are only partially aware of. This

makes it even more important to stress that this process

and its implementation requires vision.

The new millennium offers us the opportunity to build a

continent free of the mistakes and problems inherited from

the 19th century, which resulted in the disasters of the 20th

century. We were given the opportunity to start anew 14

years ago. Today many claim that this was all predictable

– that the Soviet Union and communism would collapse –

but they did not say it back then. Nevertheless, I am

optimistic - so much has happened in these years but

there is still so much to do.

The year 1989 opened a wealth of new opportunities for

neighbors that were separated by artificial boundaries and

borders. Political geography is converging with natural

geography, the “East” is no longer an assessable

expression and our geographical conceptions are once

again coinciding with political ones. There are 21 new

countries that have emerged around the EU and therefore

one tends to focus more on the problems rather than on

the opportunities. Developments such as the collapse of

Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union could point to

disintegration but in reality their successor states are

moving closer towards wider European integration.

We must come to terms with the fact that the bipolar world

as we once knew it – the one dominated by two

superpowers – now belongs in the volumes of history

books. In order to move forward we have to move beyond

the simple explanation of the “good guys” on one side and

the “bad guys” on the other or that one side is an “evil

empire” as Ronald Reagan maintained. There is a real

danger of populist politicians trying to sell over-simplified

pictures of new “enemies”.

First no vision and then to much vision

It is safe to say that the West had no blue print or strategy

to react to the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the

communist parties. No one was able to respond to the

events predicted by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

Then came the triumphant declarations: the victory of

democracy and the free market is evident. Francis

Fukuyama was seriously misunderstood with his “End of

History”. Everyone spoke of new Marshall Plans, which

promised massive economic recovery, but there was no

real substance. There were also many predictions of

disaster. Samuel Huntington spoke of “the Clash of

Civilizations”. There were conflicts but not confrontations

of different cultures. These confrontations were political

ones, which cut across civilizations such as seen with the

Gulf War and the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

We now find ourselves on the ground. We are not

witnessing spectacular results but rather must take things

one-step at a time in order to move towards a united


We have accomplished plenty

It seems rather ridiculous to address but allow me to

summarize: 1989 and the years following gave many

more people access to human rights and democracy –

more than we can imagine. Democracies are still few in

the world but the fall of the Iron Curtain has increased

their number. We must also work to overcome the legacies

of the Second World War. We have so far managed to

avoid the outbreak of a third World War as a result from

the collapse of great empires (as has been in the past).

We can be proud that “basket three” of the Helsinki Final

Act placed so much emphasis on the respect for human

rights. I would also like to stress that ideologies that

promise paradise on earth have also been swept aside.

There is no such thing as a perfect world and ideologies

that profess this end up oppressing mankind.

We also have the possibility of a united continent instead

of two halves being appendices of superpowers outside

the continent itself. We have the opportunity to rediscover

Europe and that fact that political geography is converging

with natural geography makes this easier.

Questions for ourselves

There are a plethora of questions that we must ask. There

is still much that needs to be done from the list of tasks

that emerged in 1989. This is not a reason for pessimism

but rather satisfaction that we do have clear and tangible

objectives. We are the only ones who can fulfill these

objectives. Some of the most obvious questions include:

What is what the French call la finalité d’Europe? Are

propositions such as a Europe of concentric circles or a

core Europe solutions or will they lead to a division of the

continent? Are we genuinely ready to create a European

Union for all and what should this Union be called? Or are

we excluding some because it is too complicated for us to

restructure the Union as a result? How far does our own

continent reach and what is the scope of responsibility of

our continent for the rest of the world. A “Fortress Europe”

is not the answer.

The bipolar world has been replaced by a polycentric one.

The further development of the European Union will no

longer come from pressure from the East but rather is a

matter of free choice. Small states now have the same

opportunities as the large ones have had. For the first time

in history, parliaments, governments and most importantly,

the citizens of Europe have a say in the shaping of a

European constitution. The emphasis placed on the

regions point to the diversity of Europe but there has to be

the willingness to accept this. There is also the

responsibility of the countries of the European Union for

their neighborhood.

There is a plethora of questions with respect to the issue

of security. There is a new sense of confusion as so many

organizations are dealing with this issue such as the

United Nations, OSCE, NATO, WEU, the Council of

Europe and more. Do these organizations have the

capacity to solve the problems at hand? Crime is

organized on a global scale and takes advantage of the

latest technologies while we still use outdated means to

fight this threat and national pride seems more important

that protecting human beings. Who talks about education

when short term goals dominate political decision making?

Who is fully aware of the value of media which provides,

even global information?

We also have to deal with potential and probable conflicts

in Europe. There are certain conflicts, which are

recognizable. Our Judeo-Christian world, influenced by

the enlightenment, has not yet really begun a dialogue

with the orthodox world. The interdependence between

spiritual-religious beliefs and state plays an important role.

We also speak of the end of the enlightenment and at the

same time underestimate the role, which myths and

romanticism are playing anew. The fact that practical

problems such as exploitation of the environment,

migration and transport are not being solved just

exacerbates things.

There are other sets of issues: Do we really understand

Russia? What do Tolstoy, Berdjajev, Dostoevsky and

Solschenizyn, in their understanding of mankind and the

nation, mean for the future of Russia? The relationship

between the United States and Europe also opens

another set of issues. If we speak of isolationism then we

must present ourselves as partners for dialogue in order to

stress that this concerns the future of the world. How are

we to deal with the challenges of Islam besides

aggression and suspicion? What roles do subcontinents,

such as China and India, play in relationship to Europe,

especially when they are becoming increasingly stronger


A major challenge for the future remains to position

Europe globally. We are a long way from knowing the right

path. It is partners like Japan that have great importance

here because here in Asia things are changing and there

are new roles. This cannot be separated but only dealt

with jointly through cooperation. The exchange of ideas,

visions, perceptions of the reality is becoming increasingly

significant. More problems are taking on a global nature

and therefore global solutions must be found. This does

not only concern issues related to ecology and climate

change, which have an impact on the global economy, but

also issues of peace and security. Richard Coudenhove-

Kalergi wanted a “peace order” for Europe and the seeds

of this vision continue to spread. We need such an order

not only for Europe but also for the entire world. Europe

will play a decisive role in the dialogue with others and this

can only take place on the basis of political culture. Japan

has a thousand years old political culture that is highly

respected. Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi was a

representative of a spiritual political culture, which should

serve as an example for us. From this we can extract a

vision – a European vision that can determine and define

partnership with other parts of the world such as Japan.

European visions

Europe is not about borders and boundaries but rather

about consciousness of diversity now and throughout

time. Europe is bigger – its Eastern and Southeastern

parts still must find their place in a united Europe. Europe

is an open continent and not a fortress. It is a result of

dialogue and therefore it has a role to play in global


Europe is not only about economy, but also about social

responsibility, common values and cultural diversity from

which all can benefit.

Europe needs dialogue and languages, sustainability,

lively regions, respect for “the other”, solidarity, openness

and democracy and human rights.

Europe needs to believe in itself, in common values and

the development of world ethics.

Europe needs other parts of the world, such as Japan,

because together we have a global responsibility in the

spirit of Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi.

Europe equals culture

Culture is a defining element of Europe. It is the element

that has held the entire continent together. No one wants a

unified culture but rather the sense and recognition of

what we mean by European culture. This begins with

history. We need to have a European history book that is

not written from a historical perspective but rather from

many other perspectives, which make up the history of

Europe. We also need the stories, which created the

mythical imagery of Europe. What would Europe be

without Socrates, Platon, Euripides and Aischylos – what

would it be without Goethe’s “Faust”, Shakespeare’s

“Hamlet”, Cervantes’s “Don Quixote”, the characters of

Joan of Arc or Peer Gynt or Dante’s Divine Comedy. The

challenge is now for science and research, intellectuals

and artists - a political burden that no one can take from


We must recall the hospitality, which our ancestors had

cultivated and held in highest esteem. The term for

“foreigner” and “guest” were once the same. Accepting

diversity inside ourselves, will make this once again

possible. If we were to find an analogy for Europe, than it

would be one of a village where everyone lives in an own

house varying in size and quality. We know that we

cannot live in peace when there is discord in the

neighboring house. We know that we are in danger when

a fire breaks out in the neighboring house or when our

neighbor does not tend to his garden or plow his field. We

are taught in our lives that there are streets and lanes,

markets and squares, that we can find work and go

shopping, that water and sewage is a communal concern

just as are police, firefighters, schools and retirement

homes. We also need a church in the center of the town,

a symbol for the essential values shared by the village

community. There also have to be festivals as well as

brawls in order to release unavoidable aggression so that

we can once again live in peace with one another. Our

European village offers us the opportunity to work together

in strengthening the foundation of good neighbourly

relations. All it takes is providing experience, lending a

helping hand and simply getting involved because the

quality of the village is a reflection of the quality of its


The ancient Greeks were well aware that the myth of

Europe stems from a love story. We, as present day

Europeans, should not emulate the fickle desires of Zeus

(Jupiter) but rather truly love our Europe – only then will

the continent have a future.