On the Pnyx, it was free speech, debate and even controversy that prevailed. Therefore, I would like to be frank with you this evening and speak plainly: in Europe today, sovereignty, democracy and trust are in danger. You will know this better than anyone, because the so-called “Greek crisis” brought this into the open.
This crisis was not entirely restricted to Greece. It was a European crisis, and in a sense, I would dare to say, a European failure. Should we just accept to swallow this bitter pill and give up on the European ideal? Should we give up this fight, because we have not been able to live up to the European promise? Or should we instead resort to summits during every crisis, every bump in the road, a few individuals locked away in a room not talking to anyone else? This is tantamount to resignation and would be a profound mistake, a double error.
Firstly because Europe has always been built by triumphing from war and failure. Greece itself joined the European Community to turn the page following years of military dictatorship. Europe does not exist without this unbending willpower! Europe itself has always been nothing but a metamorphosis! Those who would like to fantasize about an identity set in stone know nothing of the myth born on these shores, the myth of a constant metamorphosis! We should not aim, therefore, for such an identity, especially when we have made mistakes. When Europe stops, it betrays itself and runs the risk of dismantling itself.
It would also be a mistake because we see history moving faster, every day contributing to the break-up of the order which established itself over the last thirty years making it impossible to say what order will come from the current changes.
So yes, in a world where the alliances of the past are, in some cases, breaking apart, and new risks are appearing rocking countries that we believed steadfast, bringing out new powers in this world where our values, that which held us in the certainty that the established order was ours, are profoundly shaken. Europe is one of the last havens where we collectively continue to harbour a certain idea of humanity, law, freedom and justice. We need Europe now more than ever. The world needs Europe. Organizing its dismantlement would therefore make no sense. It would be a sort of political and historical suicide.
That is why, this evening, I want us collectively to get back that primary energy, the force to rebuild our Europe, not to continue what does not work or try to tweak it, but to start with an uncompromising critical assessment of these last years, to give us the primary strength, the primary ambition.
As you mentioned, Prime Minister, there was the founding generation who created an unprecedented space for peace, freedom and prosperity. There was a generation who grew this Europe, sometimes leading it astray, taking the wrong path. Our generation has a simple choice, a unique alternative: continue to manage Europe as it is, pretending not to see what is under our eyes. In this case, this generation will take the responsibility of letting Europe die. It will die from the clashes, brutal exits, or it will be left to wither and die, year on year.