The joy of being European
Young people don’t seem to be very interested in the future of Europe. What do you think?
I don’t think this is true. Many of them are interested but they are not visible. Only the ones who don’t want Europe to be united are visible. They want to divide us, and they want each country just to look after its own interests. They are the ones who are more active than those who see Europe as united. This has to be the big change for all of us, that we become pro-Europe, for a united Europe.
How do you see Europe in the context of world politics today?
Europe has to show a good example of democracy, unity and mutual cooperation. It needs to show that democracy provides a better way of living.
It’s “Europe Day” on the 9th of May. What does this date mean to you? How would you like Europeans to celebrate it?
It’s an important date for me. It’s a day when everyone should celebrate fact that we live in peace, at least in most of Europe. This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be out celebrating in the squares. Everyone will celebrate in their own way but we should all experience the joy of being a citizen of Europe.
If you were President of the European Commission (that is, if you had a position of influence and responsibility), what would be the main items on your agenda for safeguarding and even promoting unity among the people of Europe?
Firstly, I would tell everyone that, as members of the European Union, we are all equal before the law and have the same rights. Yet in recent years people from certain countries belonging to the European Union have only been able to see the differences – the West as developed and the East as lagging behind. On my agenda I would write: tell the citizens of the EU that we are all equally important and that we all matter.
Does Europe have a future? What contribution do you see churches, movements and the Christian community making, for example, to the future of Europe?
Europe has a great future! Europe is really important for the world and should be an example. It should show that we are united (this is the more difficult part), and it should show that it is capable of welcoming everyone. It’s up to the Churches and Movements to show everyone we are not “hypocrites”, people who say one thing and do another. We have to be open to others and welcome them. This applies not only to immigrants from countries outside the EU, but also to those within the EU. We shouldn’t distinguish between people from Eastern and Western EU.
What do you think of current populist tendencies? It would surely be better to travel together but how … ?
This is one of the most difficult questions at the moment. In the last few years we have seen political parties being elected in almost every European Union country (and further afield) who have succeeded in spreading populist propoganda. This is what happened in Slovakia and it wasn’t just a political party. At the end of February 2018 a journalist and his fiancee were assassinated. He was only 27 years old and had been writing an article exposing a link between the government (various populist parties) and the mafia. As a result, many Slovakians decided to march together, to protest and show that they no longer want these populists. They marched together, peacefully, without violence. They were afraid but without hatred. This is an example of “how” to walk together, being united not only as members of the European Union but as European citizens.
Tomas Angelovic, Slovakia, 27 years old; studies political science; also completed a course of study at Sophia University in Loppiano (Italy).