In English

On European values: Peace as a fundamental value for the EU

Speech: European Security Conference 24.5.2012

The social peace in the European Union needs to be value-based as much as economy-based.
Dear colleagues and friends,

I find the topic of this conference extremely timely. I think it would be fair to say that the current condition of the EU is much more severe than the crisis of the economy, it is also a crisis of values. However, I am far from making apocalyptic predictions. I do not foresee the end of the EU, nor do I think of the current time as the decline of values.

This is because values as such are always a response to a threat, or a crisis. Take, for example, peace as one of the core values of the EU. It is of course a response to a dramatic experience of the world wars and the later period of the cold war between the two superpowers. If all the wars in the world had ended, would we still think of the peace as a political goal of relevance?

Let me be slightly polemic here and argue that to some extent we have indeed lost the idea of peace as a fundamental value for our union. In the absence of the immediate military threats, and the unthinkable idea of EU member states waging war against each other we take the internal peace in the EU for granted.

What we mean by peace is often conflicts outside the borders of the EU, where we try to mediate peace, with various degree of success or willingness. But how can we go about such projects as conflict mediation, battle groups and the Eurocorps, if we are facing challenges to social stability in our own common home?

I strongly believe, the current crisis is calling for revival of peace as a fundamental value for the EU. While an armed conflict inside the EU is unthinkable, the social peace is in jeopardy.

The unemployment, especially among the young people, the disillusionment in political parties and democratic institutions, and the gap in living standards between different regions and social groups in the EU are getting alarmingly big. I think the events in Greece and Spain witness a very strong demand for social justice, which cannot be resolved by economic reforms and austerity measures only. Alongside improving our economy, we need to build social peace in the EU.

The economic crisis gives an opportunity to review the challenges to peace inside the EU and not see peace as depending on external threat.

1.The social peace in the European Union needs to be value-based as much as economy-based.

2. The survival of social peace depends very much on the young people of the EU many of who are on the verge of losing hope and prospect for success in their European home.

3. We need to help the young people in the EU to find way out of unemployment and despair, and do it so that the social justice and peace are strengthened.

In this sense, I think, peace has a new remarkable value inside the EU.

But it is a value also in relations with the other counties and continents too. We speak of the EU's 'soft power' or 'soft security' that means that we appreciate more negotiations than use of force.

An example is the relations with Iran. The negotiations of Iran' nuclear programme continued yesterday. I hope that there will be a solution to the problem which I see is quite easily solvable.

In relations with Iran, the EU has had a dual track policy: negotiations and sanctions. The EU has not involved with the military option.

I wish good luck to the negotiations. I hope that after the solutions to the most dangerous problem, there will also be room for talks of the human rights situation in Iran.

Thank you for your attention.

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