All that is what I want us to rediscover together, because the true fuel of Europe is not a hunger for standards, but democratic vitality. Rediscovering the initial promise of Europe is possible if we assume our desire for sovereignty and our need for democracy. To once again cite Pericles, we will achieve nothing in distrust and treachery. For years, this distrust has undermined the adhesion that is essential to the European project. It has worn away confidence which now needs to be rebuilt. That requires a return to the very meaning of the European adventure, to the deeply held conviction that supports it.
As Europeans, we share a history and a destiny. We can rebuild confidence because we will rediscover this path. Look where we are standing: even now, during the night, you can see the hill behind me: the Acropolis. Whoever you are, whatever your age, your nationality and your origin, does the miracle of this hill, the columns of the Parthenon, the silhouette of the Erechtheion and its caryatids not awaken in you the feeling that something was born here that concerns you, that belongs to you, that speaks to you?
Yes the Acropolis of Athens is a mirror reflecting our European identity, we recognize ourselves, we read our common destiny in this mirror and this temple was that of the gods from antiquity, but today the beliefs that created it have vanished and yet we still have this force in our minds. We can still fell its sacred element.
As André Malraux said, some nearly sixty years ago in this very place, there is a hidden Greece that is lying in the hearts of all men and women of the Western world. This hidden Greece is what we do not grasp, which means that even if we allow ourselves to get caught up in our trivial European debates and these civil wars that I mentioned earlier, we can be a few thousand miles away and still recognize a European, an image that reminds us of Europe, a feeling that unites us, a smell, a colour, something we read, that makes us feel European again.