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The Fall of the Berlin Wall,
the end of the Soviet system in Europe


Key ideas from Schuman's speeches can be found in the study: 'New Cold War or Common European Home? The question of the millennium' by D Heilbron Price. (The expression 'Common European Home' was used by Robert Schuman in the 1950s and in the 1980s by Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, to express the historic opportunity given by Perestroika for European unity; 'new Cold war' was used by various Russian leaders including Defence Minister Igor Rodionov at Nato in 1996. In December 1999 Russian Defence Minister, Marshall Igor Sergeyev said relations with Nato are 'entering a new phase of getting colder.') The book, Russia and the danger for the European Union, provides a detailed analysis of how Schuman's ideas could be applied in the period after Europe's Great Revolution of 1989-91 and the consequences of the present politics.

Could the Schuman Plan have ended the Cold War in 1950?
On 9 May 1950 Robert Schuman said the European Community would be open to all European countries. A journalist asked: 'Is Russia European?' Schuman answered: 'Yes, of course.'

The Americans queried whether Mr Schuman really meant to leave the Schuman Plan open to nations of the Soviet orbit.-- Was he proposing to help win the Cold War or proposing to end it? (James Reston, New York Times, 12 May 1950). Robert Schuman replied that he doubted very much whether the Kremlin would, in the existing circumstances, permit any of its satellites to join but if it did permit any of them to do so, so much the better since this would tend to unify more of Europe and bring a greater part of its war potential under supranational control.

When did Schuman say Soviet power in Europe would collapse?
In January 1959, Robert Schuman told three young members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg that the collapse of communist system and its power structure before the end of the century was certain. 'I may not live to see it,' he told them, 'but you should if you live a normal lifetime.' The young politicians were more embarrassed than impressed by his conclusion. In 1959 the Soviet Union was at the height of its power. Its grip on central and eastern Europe seemed secure far into the future. In 1957 the USSR had astounded the world with the launching of the first satellite, the Sputnik. With it the USSR opened the space age and but it also created the fear that such an achievement could easily be used to dominate the world.
                                                                                    See New Cold War or Common European Home? page 7

Was one of the main reasons for creating the European Union to help the countries of central and eastern Europe? Was it based on the certain fall of Soviet power?
'We must construct Europe, not in the interest of the free peoples alone but also to be able to welcome in it the peoples of the East, who freed from the repression that they have been subject to until the present, will ask us for their adhesion and for our moral support. ... We consider as integrating part of a living Europe all those who desire to rejoin us in a reconstituted Community. We pay homage to their courage and their faithfulness as well as their suffering and their sacrifices.'
                                                                                    New Cold War or Common European Home?  p vii

What was Schuman's warning to European political leaders about post-Soviet Europe?
'It is our duty to be ready' to receive these countries into our Community, their best guarantee for peace.
More than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these countries are still waiting. The European leaders are asking the poorest and least able countries to get ready by passing and applying 80,000 pages of Community legislation. A new wall of paper has replaced the Berlin Wall. Will the unity of Europe have to wait till the smallest condition is fulfilled-- as US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asked, 'until the tomato farmer of central Europe start using the right kinds of pesticide?'  Is this an adequate, humane response to the 60 million war dead of this century, the maimed and wounded, the victims of concentration camps and gulags, the broken lives-- and all the sacrifices for a better, freer, fairer vision for Europe? For Schuman political action was defined by analysing the realities, the possibilities and the duties.
                                                                                                 New Cold War or Common European Home?  p 10 ff

What did Schuman say about similar approaches to European unity in his time?  
'European construction can no longer wait. Otherwise it will come too late to save Europe by itself and for itself. By multiplying the number of preliminary conditions for this unity, we render unity itself impossible.'
                                                                                                New Cold War or Common European Home?  p 12

What did Schuman say about this policy of demanding perfect conformity to complex conditions?
'Lack of completeness is no reason to put off till later an endeavour for unification. Bold action is better than resignation; expectation of  perfection is a feeble excuse for inactivity.'
                                                                                                New Cold War or Common European Home?  p 12

What conditions should be applied today?
Saving Europe must include the full participation of former 'Eastern' countries, not just as clients or beggars at the EU table. It is a joint task, requiring joint efforts. 'Europe will be saved by itself and for itself.' The sole conditions to initiate that task should be the same as in 1950: respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the total willingness to accept the supranational form of government and solidarity in a form most fitting for today's challenges.
The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, compared the magnitude of events of 1989-91 historically with the fall of the Roman empire. Europe is faced with a political challenge of equivalent proportions. Ten years later we are facing two parts of Europe becoming more antagonistic, with mafias, corruption, ethnic conflagrations and wars as by-products. Schuman's efforts led to the European Union as a pole of stability in Europe's bloody history. Yet even the candidate countries are becoming more and more disillusioned and about joining because of the lack of vision and bureaucratic inflexibility of  European politicians. Schuman called this the prime danger faced by our supranational services. Many candidate countries are now witnessing majorities against joining the European Union. Respect for law and human rights has reached crisis proportions in some countries. It may shock today's politicians that Schuman spoke of 'reconstituting' the European Community on supranational principles in order to heal post-Soviet Europe. That is how one relates to equals.

How should we go about European unity?
There are two separate problems: the peaceful unity of Europe (our greatest priority) and full membership of the European Union. The principle of supranationality enables countries to solve common problems together. The supranational response should respond to the most urgent needs of the people. Thus they can create a community based on key sectors or interests.

Coal and steel was the first sector to create the initial momentum. It made war not only 'unthinkable but materially impossible.' The European Coal and Steel Community Treaty could be renewed so that it could be used as the initial learning community for prospective full members. (The rule of law is not as solidly based as in the West. Some countries have passed the new European legislation -- but do not apply it.) Immediate application would be an act of trust in the exemplary performance of both sides. Then fresh common goals can be set. New synergies between the two halves of Europe could then be created supranationally in other sectors. Many of these potential sectors could save huge amounts of resources and money that could create employment and unity. They would be in effect a self-funding Marshall programme.
                                                    Russia and the danger for the European Union, chapters 15, 16.

The problems of the present policy is apparent. Demanding that former Comecon countries attain the same levels before integration as market economies with over half a century of cooperation has delayed the historic healing of Europe by more than a decade. Some countries are finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill the European Union's conditions. The cancerous rise of  corruption and mafias in some countries will make even their eventual adhesion dangerous for other member states.
                                                                                                New Cold War or Common European Home?  p 24
Equality and human values
Schuman said our duty was to be ready to welcome those other Europeans in a reconstituted Community. The principle of supranationality is aimed at building a peace-enhancing Europe together. It is based on equality of value of each human being in our common European civilization. The aim of supranationality is to find common solutions to common problems based on supranational government. Are some politicians confusing today's historical challenge of the unity of Europe with the idea of their joining a rich man's club, the European Union?

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