I have been following closely the latest developments and I fully support the swift entry into force and full implementation of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the change of name of the latter into Republic of North Macedonia. I hope that the resolution of this long-standing issue, which is an example of reconciliation for Europe, will pave the way for the opening of the EU accession negotiations with this Western Balkans country in June 2019, as foreseen by the Council Conclusions adopted in June 2018.
I welcome the much-awaited reflection paper of the European Commission "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030". I wish to congratulate First Vice-President Timmermans and Vice-President Katainen for this result. Now there is another window of opportunity to further push the sustainable development agenda, which must become the EU's top priority for the next decade. Let us be clear though: this is only the beginning of the road towards an ambitious and successful implementation of the sustainable agenda.
As we prepare to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we can hardly remain composed in our mourning. Rather than observe silence as the deepest mourning is solitary, we feel like shouting. Why is anti-Semitism not dead, not in Europe and not even in the United States? Why in France last year was a Holocaust survivor stabbed and burned to death in her apartment? Why the year before was a retired kindergarten teacher, Sarah Halimi, murdered and subsequently thrown from her Paris balcony?
I am saddened by the violent death of Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, the symbolic city of Solidarnosc, during a public charity event on Sunday. Adamowicz was a political lawyer who served as Mayor for over 20 years. His relentless work to build bridges between communities made him popular and respected in all circles. His ability to bring people together and find agreeable solutions for all was his strength. He will be remembered as the righteous man who helped build democracy, in Poland, and in Europe.
Culture and the arts are key drivers for the future of Europe. I am therefore pleased to propose a short publication on culture and civil society, summarising the rEUnaissance – A cultural vision for Europe on Culture panel, which took place on 31 October 2019, during the EESC plenary session. Download the publication here.
A commemorative ceremony is challenging. For one, the subject is still a minefield. For even now, the collective memories of the countries we come from relate different narratives and nourish different sensitivities of lost territories, people slaughtered senselessly and vain promises. Some commemorate the independence of their country. Furthermore, the line is tight between pathos - and doing justice to the horrors of one of the deadliest conflicts in the history of humanity. But we can grow stronger though joint commemoration.
Witnessing the current discussions taking place in Katowice at COP24, I fear that not all have understood the urgency to tackle climate change; concrete measures need to be taken. Sustainable development and Agenda 2030 are the cornerstones to strengthen the European project. Tackling climate change is part of this agenda and this is why COP 24 must deliver and adopt an Agenda for hope and for future generation. Today, the EESC, had an excellent discussion with European Commission First Vice-President, Mr Frans Timmermans, on sustainable development.
We strongly condemn the attack in Strasbourg last night. A brutal and violent attack in the heart of a city in preparation for Christmas. It is with great emotion and compassion for the victims and their families that I write this condolence message to the French people.
My thoughts are also with all the injured people and the mobilised police forces. We defend together with France our values and open societies.
On Monday, the UN’s Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration was agreed by the majority of UN states, following 18 months of debate. However, some EU countries have pulled out of the process: the Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and Austria, which currently holds the EU presidency. I would have expected more responsible behaviour from these European countries, given that we recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the longstanding commitment it represents on the part of the world's nations.