“The EU: Is Our Common Future Just History”, public lecture by the Dutch politician Mr. Frans Timmermans

(January 13th, 2012, 2:00 p.m., Sheraton Hotel, Sofia)

Тhe Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and the Embassy of Kingdom of the Netherlands and with the support of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy organized a public lecture by the Dutch politician Mr. Frans Timmermans, entitled “The EU: Is Our Common Future Just History”.

Mr. Timmermans began his speech by expressing gratitude to the performance of Mr. Solomon Passy and continued by emphasizing the differences between European nations and that EU needs to find balance in the relations between them by peaceful means avoiding the historical prejudices. For this purpose, the Dutch politician expressed his view that European countries should rely on three basic principles to avoid future armed conflicts - formation and development of legal states, respect for fundamental human rights and for the existing democratic rules. The mentioned key aspect in achieving this balance was the improvement of bilateral relations between France and Germany as well as focus on the cooperation in achieving the common goals and avoiding the existing prejudices. It was also mentioned that the consistent achievement of these goals has been successful because of the joint peace work of the two countries.    

As far as Mr. Timmermans is concerned the formation of new modern and united Europe after the fall of communism was marked as exaggerated, considering the great expectations for social justice of the East Europeans and the hope of Western societies that their neighbors will quickly reach their economic, social and political level.

The Dutch politician pointed out as a disadvantage that in both former camps existed nostalgia for the political regimes before 1989, mainly among people who lived at that time, preferring them to new united Europe. In addition, Mr. Timmermans regretted that after fifty years of trying to unite, more and more European citizens started believing groundlessly in the regression of this idea expecting a trend of negative transformation of the current situation.

As an idea to overcome the existing challenges he suggested cooperation for improving the current situation, including the taking of possible risks even when the chance of reduced person income exists, which can be seen among young generation. Moreover, It was stressed that nowadays Europe should make the choice whether to do it alone or to rely on external support.

Mr. Timmermans also stated that despite the difficulties in communication it should be found a suitable tactic in persuading different nations of the advantages of a partnership instead of achieving nationalistic goals.

The following questions were related to the challenges before the integration of different nations and the respect of fundamental human rights, which were commented with the idea for more tolerance in moderate range, bordering with balanced multiculturalism and stricter economic measures that do not damage the standards of human existence. Mr. Timmermans was asked whether there was a tendency of regression in EU and he answered that there should be no division between member states and should rely on active dialogue to achieve common goals. He was also asked about the economic importance of migration of Roma from Eastern bloc after 1989 and the perspectives for a solution. The Dutch politician answered that this was a complex problem related to many different minorities whose negative aspects of behavior are mainly presented in various community groups and according to him it should be considered and the positive ones using long-term EU policy of integration.

At the end, Mr. Timmermans thanked for the invitation and stressed his satisfaction of organization’s work, questions and opportunity to attend the conference.