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Helmut Schmidt, Byzantium and the East Is Part of Europe and It Should Be
We also know that the historical spiritual reality of Europe does not consist of just the nine states - soon to be ten or twelve - that belong to the Community, but that Byzantium and Novgorod, Krakow and Prague have also contributed to our old common civilisation. And our concept of Europe will one day have to once again encompass the whole intellectual and artistic life of our Eastern European neighbours if we do not wish to become impoverished. A stronger awareness of our cultural community will help us to establish the peace-loving organisation of the whole of Europe.
As a last resort, the future of Europe will be determined by the way in which it performs the tasks which it sets itself and which are to maintain peace, to guarantee the kind of freedom which is so vital to us, and finally to ensure the prosperity of its citizens.
It is the fate of all politicians to be condemned to winning the approval of those who have mandated us. This often means that we must painfully extract that approval in spite of the stubborn resistance of our political adversaries and sometimes of our political friends. The need for consensus and compromise that is imposed by democratic constitutions often prejudices the authority and consistency of political action. This inconvenience is the price which our democratic and liberal constitution demands of us.
It is precisely the same situation between nations or within a community of states or a confederation such as the European Community: people who are not willing to compromise are incapable of co-operating. We Germans want compromise and solidarity, we are not only ready to receive, we are also ready to give in the name of co-operation. We need European union far more than other European peoples. The reasons are first our exposed geopolitical position, right in the heart of Europe, then our recent history including Hitler and the crimes he committed in the name of Germany...
Cf. 3 Posts on the Fall of Byzantium * Cicero, I have spared no pains to make myself master of the Greek language and learning * Schiller, A glorious humanity * Hugo, In a grand parliament of intelligence * Emerson, When the Gods come among men - Disclosing in every fact a germ of expansion * Ortega y Gassett, The birth of the city * Aeschylus, Nobody's slaves * Plato, Tyranny and slavery * Gennadius Scholarius, Words are the fathers of all Good * Emmanuel Berl, The West Owed Everything to Byzantium * Constantinople * David Turner, Byzantium : The 'alternative' history of Europe