Europe, Mitterrand and I0
Last year on May 9, I wrote about the origins of my passion for Europe. I originated it in the story of my family, partly through that of my grandfather -born during World War I- who fought during World War II. In his last speech to the European Parliament in 1995, François Mitterrand said: “A twist of fate had me born during World War I and fight for World War II.”
A twist of fate had it that today is Europe Day and tomorrow the thirtieth anniversary of François Mitterrand‘s election to the Presidency of the French Republic. This man has always reminded me of my grandfather. Although there was little physical resemblance, they shared a certain intellectual elegance. They both were educated men, close to the rural roots of France, and both witnessed the worst atrocities.
A twist of fate had me born during the first European elections by universal suffrage. Two years later, François Mitterrand became “le Président”. He was still President when I was 15. I grew up with him. So much that it was unconceivable for me that another man could be President. Today I’m more interested in European politics than French politics. Still there’s something I’m missing on both scenes. National discourses and European discourses alike lack vision. Where are the charismatic figures à la Mitterrand? Where are the visionaries able to rouse the masses enthusiasm? Who is able today to shift mindsets with a mere speech?
A twist of fate also had the last WWI veteran die a few days ago. The rejection of war, the quest for peace built the European integration. My generation hasn’t lived during wartime. Reminding that we owe the longest period of peace our continent has known to the European construction is not enough to rouse young adults’ enthusiasm for the European project. We need a new vision and visionaries to lift and carry it along. What will be the European project of the 21st century? Blog out!
This post is also available in: French