Press Release

Back29/03/2011

Totalitarian Regimes: We need to understand the past to build our common future

 


A day-long public Hearing on 'What do young Europeans know about totalitarianism?' was organised by four Central European EPP Group MEPs today. In their speeches, László Tőkés MEP, Sandra Kalniete MEP, György Schöpflin MEP and Milan Zver MEP, who each chaired one of the four panels, highlighted the importance of improving young generations' knowledge on totalitarian regimes and that our common future was unimaginable without the understanding of our common past.

"Genuine European unity requires the integration of our historic past", said László Tőkés MEP in his opening remarks. "While Imperialism, as well as Nazism and Fascism were rightly dealt with long ago, we still owe a definite historic judgement on totalitarian Communism. We are still struggling to eliminate its tragic heritage. It also played a decisive role in both world wars, and had an extremely negative impact on European and global history in the second half of the 20th Century. We should not use double standards when judging totalitarian regimes. War crimes, genocide and mass murder - irrespective of what kind of totalitarian dictatorship committed them - will remain crimes against humanity therefore we must stand up against them", highlighted László Tőkés MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament.

"Europe must come to an understanding about totalitarianism in its 20th Century history. We must acknowledge that each of us lived on his or her side of the Iron Curtain and that our stories are both different and diverse. That is why now, more than ever, it is crucially important for Europeans to speak frankly and listen carefully to one another. Europeans must ensure tolerance and mutual understanding vis-à-vis our differing historical experiences and memories, because these are also a part of Europe's living history and of our collective memory", underlined Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete.

"Totalitarianism on both the Left and the Right is based on the belief that ideologies are superior to people and that it is the right and duty of ideologists to impose this so-called superior system by total violence, if necessary. Societies which have suffered under totalising systems have a complex legacy, therefore, that must be eliminated before the totalitarian temptation is shed. It is imperative that the whole of Europe confronts this grim historical legacy", emphasised Hungarian MEP György Schöpflin.

Slovenian MEP Milan Zver, who chaired the 4th panel, said: "If we ignore the past, we cannot understand the present or anticipate the future. For the further development of democracy in Europe, we need to improve the political culture and make greater transparency of democratic processes. The current democracy is fragile; this is why we have to strengthen education in democracy, where schools, media, science and politicians bear the most important role." Zver also explained that for the further development of democracy, it is also vital to overcome the economic crisis which has caused distrust in modern political structures: "Those who forget the dark side of the past are likely to repeat it."

Programme of the Hearing

Watch 'Remembering Totalitarianism' onWatch the news on EPPtv

For further information:
László Tőkés MEP, Tel: +32-22847801
Sandra Kalniete MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845204
Milan Zver MEP, Tel: +32-2-2845315
György Schöpflin MEP, Tel: +32-2-2847884
Klemen Žumer, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-498-514589
Miklós Panyi, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-473-866137
Ģirts Salmgriezis, EPP Group Press & Communications Service, Tel: +32-477-800343


Notes to Editors:
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 265 Members