(excerto do texto integral do discurso de Joachim Gauck sobre a Europa em 22.02.2013)
Europe does have a source of identity: an essentially timeless canon of values which unites us at two different levels, both in our profession of respect for them and in the action we take to uphold them. When we stand in the name of Europe, we do not stand around monuments that base the greatness of some on the defeat of others. We stand together for something: for peace and freedom, for democracy and the rule of law, for equality, human rights and solidarity.
All of these European values have not just been promised – they have been actually set down in treaties and enshrined in legislation. They form points of reference for our shared republican worldview, the basis of the idea that everyone has an equal right to participation in society and politics. Our European values create a space for our European res publica.
Our European community of values wants to be a space of freedom and tolerance. It penalizes fanatics and ideologists who stir people up against one another, incite them to violence or undermine our political foundations. It provides a space where peoples live together peacefully and no longer go to war against each other. The bloody reality of war – like the recent war in the Balkans, where European soldiers and civilian forces are still needed to keep the peace – must never be allowed to happen again.
It is often people who have come here from other continents who can most clearly see how much there is to be cherished in Europe. They know the poverty, wars, tyranny and injustice that exist in other parts of the world. They experience Europe as a place of prosperity and self-fulfilment – and, in many cases, as a place where they are protected, where they can live free from state censorship in the media and online; from torture and the death penalty; from child labour and violence against women; or from persecution for living in same-sex relationships.
Our European values are binding, and they bind us together. When European states occasionally violate European rules, they can be brought before European courts. There may still be cause, now and again, to accuse Europe or Germany of adopting an ambiguous approach to human or civil rights – but Europe guarantees that the public and the media will always be free to criticize and able to take the side of the persecuted or oppressed, especially in dictatorial or authoritarian states.
The European canon of values is not bound by national borders, and it is valid beyond all national, ethnic, cultural and religious differences. An illustrative example is provided by the Muslim people who live in Europe, who have become an integral part of our European society. European identity is not about excluding those who are different. Rather, European identity grows out of our deepening cooperation and the conviction of those who say we want to be part of this community because we share common values. More Europe means making diversity more genuinely part of our lives and allowing it to unite us.
All the things we have had to learn, and indeed continue to learn, about international relations to secure peace among our nations – these are also things we are having to keep learning within our societies in order to maintain a balance between increasingly different elements. As we have daily proof, we are still Europeans when we stay at home. In Germany, you will find restaurant owners from Italy, nurses from Spain and football players from Turkey. There are more and more people at universities and in companies, on the stage and in shops who have family roots in other countries and who, if they are religious, attend different places of worship from Protestant or Catholic Germans. We have had more Europe for a while now. Diversity has become part of everyday life in our society.