Azerbaijan International

Winter 1999 (7.4)

Europe as Idea, Not Place

"The United States is not a member of the European Union but I have constantly urged European integration to move further and faster, and that includes Turkey.

"There are still those who see Europe in narrower terms. Their Europe might stop at this mountain range or that body of water or, worse yet, where people start to worship God in a different way. But there is a growing and encouraging consensus that understands Europe as an idea as much as a place. It's the idea that people can find strength and diversity of opinions, cultures and faiths, as along as they are commonly committed to democracy and human rights - the idea that people can be united without being uniform. If a community we loosely refer to as 'the West' is an idea, it has no fixed frontiers; it stretches as far as the frontiers of freedom can go.

"Ten years ago this month, the Berlin Wall tumbled, a curtain lifted across Europe. The best way to celebrate that anniversary is to rekindle the feeling of liberation for a new generation."

Bill Clinton, U.S. President, addressing the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 15, 1999, in anticipation of the OSCE Summit that opened in Istanbul three days later.

Respecting Diversity
"Let me just say this in closing. We are here in Turkey, and it's an appropriate place to say this - thinking of Chechnya, thinking of all these issues, thinking of the trouble in the Caucasus, and the trouble in the Balkans. So much of the future of the 21st century will turn on developments in the vast region that lies between traditional notions of Asia and Europe, between the Muslim world and the West, between the parts of our community that are stable and prosperous and democratic, and those still struggling to build basic human security and freedom.

"The people who live in these crossroads face truly momentous challenges and we're dealing with some of them today. They are trying to preserve their unique heritage and participate fully in the modern world. And there is no single, simple answer to all their problems, but there is a guidepost: this OSCE and its principle that human differences should be resolved democratically, with respect for diversity and the basic rights and freedom of every individual. That was true in 1975 [when the OSCE was founded], it is even more true today."

Bill Clinton, U.S. President, addressing representatives of the 54 nation states at the 1999 Summit of the OSCE (Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe) which took place in Istanbul's Jiragan Palace on November 18, 1999.

Azerbaijan International (7.4) Winter 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.

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