Berlin.- European Union leaders meet in Berlin to celebrate the golden anniversary of the block which was founded by the Treaty of Rome, on March, 25, 1957. The “Berlin Declaration” which will set the goal of restructuring the 27 –nation block by 2009, however, without specific mention to the controversial draft constitution, was expected to be signed on Sunday. A large number of events were held to mark the 50 th anniversary of the EU. However, the festive atmosphere could not play down skepticism over the future of the EU which is at a critical stage.
The leaders of the “27” EU nations are expected to endorse a statement emphasizing the EUʼs achievements and challenges ahead. On Saturday they attended a performance of Beethovenʼs 5th Symphony by the Berlin Philharmonic, followed by a banquet hosted by the German President, Horst Keler at his official residence and a firework display.
The Berlin Declaration is expected to be signed at a former armory, known as National History Museum and will signal the 50 years since Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg signed the Treaty of Rome which founded the EU.
The short text of the declaration aims to open a new chapter on the EU prospects and mainly help to overcome alienation between the existing organ and the citizens of its member states.
Without making specific reference to the controversial issue of the European Constitution, and avoiding the use of the word constitution, the Berlin Declaration sets the goal of renewing by 2009 the basis on which the EU is built.
It also refers to the principals of Europe such as tolerance, solidarity and justice, as well as the blockʼs achievements during the 50 years since its foundation, with the greatest achievement of all leaving behind Europeaʼs division in east and west and finally the strategic challenges such as combat of terrorism and its causes, combat poverty, and measures to deal with global warming.
As Angela Merkel associates say, the “strongest card” of the Berlin Declarartion is that it centers on European citizens.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has arrived in Berlin and on Saturday, Karamanlis he attended in a meeting of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP), and later on a dinner given in honour of the Heads of State and Government by the German President.
On Sunday morning, Karamanlis met with the European Commission President and later on he is expected to participate in the ceremony.
Speaking shortly before a meeting of European Peoples Party (EPP) leaders in the German capital, Karamanlis said “the 50 years from the signing of the Treaty of Rome is a great European achievement. During this half a century, we have succeeded in making war inconceivable and mapping out together a course of peace, cooperation, growth and prosperity.”
Referring to the EPP, the prime minister said “for the European Peoples Party, today is a celebration even more so. And this is so because the European concept, the promotion of European integration are great fundamental priorities that were served with consistency by leading personalities of our political family.”
In a message appearing in Friday’s edition of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Karamanlis referring to the major issue of the crisis caused by the rejection of the European Constitutional Treaty in referenda in France and the Netherlands, said that although this fact could not be ignored, neither could the fact that the majority of the EU member states have already approved it be ignored.
“We are convinced that the Constitutional Treaty renders us capable of meeting the challenges. Otherwise the EU, with 27 members, runs the risk of paralysing. This is why we find ourselves in front of two alternatives: either to move ahead, or remain stagnant,” he said.
He said he considered it a fact that “we can no loner move ahead all together”, but “those who wish to and can, must do so, as a steam engine, paving the way for the rest”, with the euro-zone countries in that role.