In her speech at a ceremony in Helsinki to mark the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, Liliane Maury Pasquier stressed the importance of the lessons of the past to build the future.
“Then - 70 years ago, we were a continent devasted by the most terrible conflict in mankind’s history, a society deeply wounded by colossal loss of life and deep mistrust. (…) The symbolic significance of the establishment of the Council of Europe, was its political mission: to re-build trust between peoples, to reinvigorate dialogue and co-operation among nations and create a solid foundation for lasting peace and unity between countries”, she stressed.
“Now - the political mission is as relevant as it was 70 years ago. The ideal of European unity is being put to a serious test with backsliding on fundamental rights and freedoms, with worrying nationalist, populist and authoritarian trends, and with new dividing lines and conflicts emerging on our Continent. In the face of these challenges, we can and must recall the basic principles that form the foundations of what has become our ‘Common European Home’,” she said.
“I am deeply convinced that what unites us – our common history and our firm desire to make Europe a peaceful and prosperous place to live – is stronger than the disagreements, divisions and conflicts we have to face. But it is not just a question of then and now, it is also a question of tomorrow and the future. As Sir Winston Churchill 71 years ago said in Zurich, ‘the peoples have only to will it and all will achieve their heart's desire…!’. If we want to achieve ours, we must shoulder our responsibilities and stand for our rights, our freedoms and our Europe. Then, Europe will have a bright future, for the next 70 years and the many generations to come,” the PACE President concluded.