Today is the first Europe Day in Ukraine. And I am surprised how few Ukrainians know what this holiday is about, its history and meaning. Some know about the Schuman Declaration, and some know about the creation of the proto-EU as the European Coal and Steel Community. But this is only a part of what happened on May 9, 1950, and it is, in fact, a secondary one.
If we consider the event in its entirety, in 1945 Germany lost the World War for the second time in a row. And the previous loss, after the first shock, led to an increase in revanchist sentiment, which ultimately led to the emergence of Nazism. At the same time, France and Germany are historical enemies, and the wars between them have been going on constantly, with few breaks. Therefore, it is likely that war would have broken out in Europe again in some time.
The leaders of both countries, and not just the political ones, were looking for a solution. However, while in Germany, it was easy to find support for the “peace plan” at that time, in France a completely different public mood dominated, which encouraged revenge on the old enemy. And a politician who would offer reconciliation and the elevation of the enemy, let alone an alliance, was almost guaranteed to lose power and trust in society.
Now I will surprise a lot of people, but the real authors of the European Coal and Steel Community, and eventually the European Union, were several Christian pastors. And the united Europe was born in the small castle of Coe on the coast. It was there that the politicians of these countries found mutual understanding, and when a technical solution was proposed, it was finalized and actually pushed through.
On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman announced what he had been working towards all his life: a united Europe based on moral and Christian principles. On this day, France voluntarily gave up what was due to it, according to all the traditions of warfare, as the victorious state. It gave it up in order to make it a common, supranational thing, inviting other countries to do the same.
Now, unfortunately, the world has moved far from those fundamental principles. And it is very bad that few people are interested in them. Our Foundation for Promoting Democracy has published a book about those fateful events: Jeff Fontaine’s Deep Roots. The Forgotten Concepts of Robert Schuman”. I advise everyone to read it.
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