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Speeches, Interviews

27.01.2006

Opening statement by Federal Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, President of the European Council at the conference "The Sound of Europe" in Salzburg.


Ladies and Gentlemen!

Welcome here in Salzburg on 27 January 2006. Exactly 250 years ago today, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a true European genius, was born. With this conference on "The Sound of Europe", I wanted at the same time to give the starting signal for a European debate on the future of Europe.

I should like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you, and - as it would take too long to mention every one of you personally - specifically to our Federal President Heinz Fischer, the Prime Ministers Dominique de Villepin of France, Jan Peter Balkenende from the Netherlands, Matti Vanhanen from Finland, the President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, the President of the Finnish Parliament, my old friend and colleague Paavo Lipponen, and, of course, the co-sponsor and co-organiser, the European Commission. Commission President Barroso unfortunately is not here with us, but I am pleased to extend a hearty welcome to the Commission Vice-President Margot Waldström, who is going to open the conference with me, and to her fellow Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Jan Figel`. I am very pleased that you have joined us here in Salzburg.

I also wish to thank the team who has prepared this conference. On the way in to the conference room, you will undoubtedly have noticed a whole series of video installations. These are the work of the Ars Electronica group, who have endeavoured to translate the theme of Europe into a language of pictures and light and to convey the ideas many people have put to paper about Europe in a form that can be seen and heard.

What is the background to this conference? Let me mention my friend Jan Peter Balkenende at this point. During the Dutch Presidency, he embarked with the support of the Nexus Institute on a treasure hunt in Europe in the form of a discussion series entitled "Europe - A beautiful idea". The issues discussed at the time have become all the more explosive in 2005, since the European Union has stumbled into crisis following two failed referendums on the Constitutional Treaty and a very difficult, because unsuccessful, summit meeting on the financial perspective in June 2005.  At this June summit just over six months ago, the Heads of Government decided to launch a reflection phase that was to be used to seek out and articulate the reasons for the unease many of Europe’s citizens feel, perhaps not only - or not specifically - about the text of the Constitutional Treaty and to seek solutions, answers to the questions. In this spirit, we want to develop the Dutch Presidency’s idea in a situation that has obviously evolved since then, but not become any easier, in a quest for solutions and answers.

The first panel will explore this unease, the criticism, the feelings of crisis in Europe, and attempt to analyse the underlying causes. The members of a second panel will discuss possible practical solutions, while the third panel tomorrow will above all look at the role of the arts and culture in Europe and the European identity. Finally, the political conclusions that can be drawn from the panel contributions will be the subject of the closing debate.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Today is not only the anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; it is also Holocaust Memorial Day, the international day of remembrance of one of the greatest horrors of European history. Exactly 61 years ago, the concentration camp Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. Auschwitz, too, as a synonym of crime is part of Europe’s history, and must be included in our reflection. To quote Josef Krips, a great Austrian conductor who is unfortunately no longer with us: “While the one – Mozart — is from Heaven, the other – Auschwitz – has now become the synonym of Hell” Both sides of the coin — paradisiacal expectations, dream, vision and also the reality of failure, crime, evil, Hell – are part of Man’s identity and probably also of Europe’s identity.

Mozart can provide some answers or help us find answers. He was born and lived at a time marked by dramatic changes: maybe this is something worth remembering for Europe’s citizens today. If many people today fear change, the “wind of change”: the change then was unlike anything that had gone before.

The American Revolution, for example. The Bill of Rights was written in the year of Mozart’s death. The French Revolution. Adam Smith described the foundations of modern society in his work “Wealth of Nations”. As Mozart was composing “The Abduction from the Seraglio” in Vienna, Hegel was writing the Phenomenology of Spirit”. The Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the steam engine, the discovery of electricity. Industrial and computer-controlled looms were invented. The modern print media – I take this opportunity to welcome the mass media, journalists, radio and TV reporters – can trace back their origins to that time. There are two newspapers in existence today which already existed then. The “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” was established in 1780, the “Times” in 1788.

Mozart himself travelled through Europe like a whirlwind during this period of change and made his mark on European history. If we consider that he spent one third of his short life on his travels and visited and experienced 200 European cities, and perhaps also helped compose their sound, it can truly be said he was a part of this change. He had a premonition of some of the things to come. He sensed - and I owe this thought to Martin Kušej – that events can end in a catastrophic bloodbath. Take the opera “La Clemenza di Tito” for example, which ends in a bloodbath and an attack on the Capitol during a groundless attempt to assassinate Emperor Tito. Mozart already sensed the coming of the French Revolution and at the same time gave the answer as to how to put things back in order: Not with weapons, but with music. In the Magic Flute, the military and pursuers are halted, made to dance, by a magic flute. 

A great deal of this agony of change, the labour pains, growing pains, pains of maturity, we are naturally also experiencing today in Europe. This Europe must not become a purely economic idea; I say that quite openly here. Europe must be more, it must find a cultural identity, reflect on what holds us together, where its borders lie, what are its objectives, its possibilities. It must develop a sense of realism and of what is feasible. It needs a spirit, not only a common currency, but a common goal and common projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Before I hand over to Margot Wallström and invite her to open the conference with me, I want to quote an author who also knew a great deal about music. Hermann Hesse said: “For one who loves music, the world has one more continent.” Perhaps Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his relationship with Europe can have a motto, such as “Music of the future for an old continent”. It would be nice if this succeeded, if Europe was no longer part of the problem, but part of the solution. I wish the conference every success.

 

 

Date: 06.02.2006