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17 May 2005
16 May 2005
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Secretary General marching for Europe

On the eve of the Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government in Warsaw, Secretary General Terry Davis and Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio took part in the 12th annual Schuman Parade, joining several thousand others on the streets of the Polish capital.

This was the 12th year in succession that the parade had been held in early May. Polish people, most of them youngsters who support both the European ideal and Poland’s membership of the European institutions, have got into the habit of demonstrating their wishes by taking part in this major procession-cum-carnival, with its brass bands, folk groups, pom-pom girls, face painting, stilt walkers and fancy dress.

"We are here to support European construction, democracy and peace", said Sylvia, a 28-year-old teacher of English from Jaslo, a town 300 km south of Warsaw. Sylvia had got up at 3 am to get herself and around forty of her 13 to 16-year-old pupils to Warsaw in time for the start of the parade. Like her pupils, she was wearing a T-shirt in Europe’s colours and had an orange scarf tied round her wrist.

She said that many of the participants were wearing orange to show their support for Ukraine, as well as the traditional blue and yellow of the European flag. This way of expressing admiration for last winter's "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine was also a reminder of the "orange initiative", a non-violent, democratic and pro-European dissident student movement which had begun in Poland 25 years ago, and had seen its symbolic colour adopted last year by Ukraine's democratic protesters.

Addressing the crowd before taking up his place with the Deputy Secretary General behind a group of children displaying the European flag at the head of the parade, Terry Davis said that the objective was not to watch history unfold, but to shape the history of a Europe where each and every one of us contributed to, and benefited from, democracy.

The very colourful and well-behaved cortege made its way from Constitution Square to the esplanade by the Palace of Culture and Science, where a European village had been set up. The festivities continued late into the night, with people visiting stalls to obtain information about various aspects of Europe, listening to rock and hip-hop music and watching films.