Press Release No: 16/11
5 May 2016
In early May the European Union and Council of Europe mark their respective Europe Days on 5 and 9 May to celebrate European core values including integration, human rights, and democracy. The occasion is marked by public events and celebrations throughout Europe, and around the world.
At this moment, reflecting on peace, community, human rights and democracy in Europe is especially critical. Multiple, intersecting crises challenge the European project and its relationship to the global community. Violence and conflict upset life within and just beyond Europe. The crisis of receiving refugees continues without resolution, countries are failing in their moral and legal obligations to protect those in need.
European economic and political life are equally in crisis. The effects of global economic turmoil linger, and competing national interests are creating volatility within the Eurozone. An upcoming referendum in the United Kingdom may reshape the EU and how countries within it relate to each other. Euroscepticism is on the rise and along with it new forms of divisive nationalism.
In the midst of these critical situations the churches’ task is to give a voice to prophetic hope. Europe must continually rediscover its identity as a project for peace, democracy, and human rights. “This can happen only in transparent interaction for the good of all humanity,” remarked Fr Heikki Huttunen, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches. “The prosperity and progress of Europe is possible only together with the peaceful development of its closest neighbours—Africa and the Middle East.”
The European Union was founded on respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights. Together we are called to uphold these common values that helped found the European political institutions. The Conference of European Churches affirms that churches, civil society, and political institutions can contribute to unity and peacebuilding for the sake of Europe and the fellowship of humankind.
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