Integration means building good relations with neighbours, overcoming bad history, reconciliation above difficult history, said President Bronislaw Komorowski during a panel debate in Gdansk on Thursday. Other participants included Ukraine president and UN secretary general.
The panel debated on "The European Integration as lesson learned after WW2. What does it mean today?"
For Poles the end of WW2 "meant the end of German occupation, moving of state borders far westwards, and at the same time the country's place on the wrong side of the iron curtain," Komorowski noted.
Therefore when Poland turned to democracy after the 1989 breakthrough the country wanted "to make up for lost time and gain a chance to participate in the European integration, like many states of Western Europe," the president went on.
"Dreams of integration perceived as building good relations with neighbours, overcoming bad history, reconciliation above difficult history were to some extent the experience of us all. They can also be the experience of us all," Komorowski noted. Such processes are easier when they take place in conditions of freedom.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he came to Gdansk to express his admiration for nations and governments of Europe which had fought against Nazism in defence of freedom and democracy. He recalled that both the EU and the UN were set up in reaction to the tragedy of WW2 so that "horrors of war never repeat again."
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said the EU was the only remedy against such tragedies as WW2 repeating themselves. However, European integration was still not finished. "Security in our continent will be fragile as long as the EU admits other nations (...)," he opined.
It was imperative to prevent "a repetition of mistakes which were made in the 1930s and prevent a war conflict similar to that of WW2." But "it seems that such a conflict is near," Poroshenko added. "We must be aware of that lesson in the 21st century when my country fell victim to aggression. Strangely, we see attempts being made to appease the aggressor. Ukraine fully complies with the Minsk pact but the aggressor keeps stepping up its activity in Donbas."
Poroshenko expressed gratitude of Ukrainians to world leaders who refused to attend the Moscow parade on May 9.
The EU was facing its most demanding challenge yet, a true test of unity and solidarity, a test of fundamental European values, he said referring to policies towards the Ukraine-Russian conflict. The challenge for the EU today is Ukraine, where people are still dying, he added.
EU Council President Donald Tusk said "we are unable to foresee what history has in store for us (...) but we can prepare ourselves well for events that cannot be predicted in advance."
Today's Europe, "unlike in 1939, can be responsible" and "Europeans can feel responsible for the entire continent, not just for their own nation," Tusk opined.
He pointed out that many European leaders decided not to attend the Moscow victory parade on May 9 because they activated their imagination, Tusk argued. "We started to ponder what kind of future victories the organizers of that parade had in mind," he explained.
"I strongly believe that Europe can be not only moral and right but also strong (...)," he stressed.
Following the debate its participants light candles before the Monument to the Fallen Shipyard Workers 1970. Still later in the night they were scheduled to take part in an open air ceremony on the Westerplatte Peninsula marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
The ceremonies were attended, among others, by Presidents of Bulgaria - Rosen Plevneliyev, Croatia - Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Cyprus - Nikos Anastasiadis, Czech Republic - Milosz Zeman, Estonia - Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Lithuania - Dalia Grybauskaite, Romania - Klaus Iohannis, Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko, Slovakia PM - Robert Fico, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, former German President Horst Koehler, the heads of parliaments of Spain and Latvia, the deputy head of the Hungarian parliament and the defence minister of France. (PAP)