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17 maja 2005
16 maja 2005
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-(To be checked against delivered speech)

Speech by Archbishop Giovanni LAJOLO, Secretary for State Relations – Holy See

1. Challenges facing European societies

Europe is faced with challenges arising from its own internal dynamism as well as challenges in its encounter with world problems. It cannot address one set of challenges successfully without responding adequately to the other.

1. As to the first, the Council of Europe, as a guarantor of democratic security, based on respect for human rights and the rule of law, is confronted with two requirements:

a. the need to prevent the principle of equality from compromising the protection of legitimate diversity: justice in fact requires equal relationships to be treated equally and diverse relationships to be treated diversely;

b. the need to prevent the principle of individual freedom from being dislodged from its natural insertion in the totality of social relationships, and therefore from the principle of social responsibility, which in fact constitutes an essential component of its positive value.

The consequences of this confrontation on the level of international relations, as well as on the social, family and individual levels are evident.

2. On the other hand, many concrete challenges derive from the great world-wide problems handed down from the XX Century: the nuclear threat, which is now in danger of escaping from the exclusive historic responsibility of the great powers, the emergence of forms of political and religious fundamentalism, large-scale migration of peoples and certain situations of dangerous instability at the State level even in the European arena. I am referring here particularly to the situation in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in the Kosovo region, both of which are in need of a reliable solution, which cannot be reached without providing effective guarantees for minorities.

3. In a spirit of service the Holy See offers her own support and that of the whole Catholic Church in order to respond adequately to these challenges. She is persuaded that the message of fraternity, proper to the Gospel, the vast charitable action of Catholic organizations, the commitment to ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue can be conjoined naturally to the commitment to political, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, mentioned in the final declaration of this Assembly which the Holy See willingly supports.

2. The Construction of Europe

I would like to say a few words about the construction of Europe. The Delegation of the Holy See does not presume to propose technical solutions but would like to offer some simple considerations as a contribution to our common reflection.

1. A better coordination of European Organizations is not only an imperative of political and conceptual coherence or financial considerations, but is required by the original creative spirit of the European project. The success of this project in fact does not require just the smooth functioning of each of the principal institutions, but their common balanced synergy which allows the citizens of Europe to see Europe as their “common home” at the service of the human person and society.

2. Given its widely recognised competence, acquired in the juridical area, the experience of the Council of Europe is particularly important because it sketches the outlines of what could become a blueprint for European society. The more than 190 Conventions of the Council of Europe, dealing with education, culture, minorities, refugees, immigration, ecology, the media etc.. cover a notable part of the sectors involved in the social dimension.

Furthermore the territorial extension acquired by the Council of Europe draws it close to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OCSE, however, is also marked by its transatlantic dimension, something indispensable for maintaining peace in a globalized world and for fulfilling its mandate with regard to conflicts. From the three ways of European construction outlined in the three baskets of the OSCE - concerning respectively security policies, economic and ecological cooperation, and the human dimension - clearly it is this last factor which offers the broadest field of cooperation between the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

3. Regarding the European Union, it is in the juridical sector in relation to human rights that one finds further concrete possibilities for closer institutional cooperation. The common commitment to corroborate the human rights and the legal protection of European citizens - reaffirmed by the will of the European Union to adhere to the European Convention for the protection of human rights and fundamental liberties - must be given adequate expression in the propositions to be presented by the Coordination Group created in December 2004.

4. I would like to conclude by stating clearly that in the construction of the great European project the Holy See will not fail to continue to offer her cooperation.