This memorial moment was dedicated to Helmut Kohl, who was buried the same day as the launch of #CitizensRoute73, July 1st, Simone Veil, deceased the day before the launch of our event, on June 30 in Paris, François Mitterrand, because he is intrinsic, and Franck Biancheri, a Great European citizen, who was one of the founding fathers of generations of the Erasmus program. It was read by Marianne Ranke-Cormier in German, Georgeta Grama-Moldovan in French and Jo Sullivan in English. It was accompanied on the cello by Matthieu Widart, laureate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels.
Dear friends, dear Route companions,
We wanted to start this meeting by mentioning a political figure who shaped the destiny of Europe. Helmut Kohl, former German chancellor whose funeral is taking place today in Speyer. And for whom the European Parliament in Strasbourg is organising an official European ceremony in his honour.
We must also mention Simone Veil, who died yesterday in Paris, a Great European, who carried the vision of European reconciliation at the end of the war and carried too the desire of women to grab this new freedom and build a future of peace, equality and prosperity. Simone Veil was the first woman president of the European Parliament, just as the Parliament had evolved into a tool of democracy. In 1979 the first direct European elections took place.
From 1982 to 1998, Helmut Kohl was Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and then Chancellor of Reunified Germany. During these 16-years Germans and all Europeans experienced two powerful events, which fundamentally changed the course of the European community they had built, their future and that of Europe: the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Iron Curtain.
Helmut Kohl can be considered as one of the main drivers of German reunification, but this ‘tour de force’ could not have been possible without the support of other Europeans whom we would like to include in this tribute, in particular:
– Francois Mitterrand, French president, who died in 1996. We all have this image in mind of the two men in Verdun in 1984 … hand in hand…
– Franck Biancheri, because it took all the European political wisdom of a young man of 25 years old and the will of a group of European students, to bring the Erasmus programme onto the lunch menu at the Elysee, in March 1987, and to a meeting in Bonn. Citizens, young citizens, were now part of the European adventure, and very quickly they also wanted democracy. The citizen dimension in the Erasmus story would be the first action to engage future generations.
“the only way to imagine a European is a team of people from different countries, not one man or woman alone” (statement by Franck Biancheri at the Agora Aegee-Europe in Enschede in May 2012 shortly before his death).
The European dimension of our politicians, men and women, is achieved only when they cross paths with European citizens, with political counterparts but also with Great European citizens.
On our #CitizensRoute73 let us be inspired by them as we contribute to the Europe we want tomorrow.
Marianne Ranke-Cormier, Vice-president AAFB
- Original German: download pdf file here: Memorial moment DE-FR-EN (01/07/2017)
Watch the video with Matthieu Widart on the cello: