This upcoming Monday marks a milestone in Europe’s recent history; the fall of the Berlin wall on 9 November 1989 and the subsequent reunion of a war-struck Germany – taking both WW2 and the following cold war into account.
British pre-war PM Neville Chamberlain had a point, you know, in claiming peace in our time – depending on how you define our time. As luck has it, France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg signed the European coal and steel union treaty, the European Union’s predecessor, on just 9 November 1951. Unfortunately, the date coincides with that of Germany’s 1938 Kristallnacht – which, in a sense, only goes to show what’s at risk, if it hadn’t been for the European Union.
The coal and steel union and the resulting European Union both have proved to materialise in the biggest international peace project in our time. The European continent, with its vast number of nations and conflicting interests, has experienced no era of such lasting peace as just the one brought about by the EU.
In claiming an outside, bitter-sweet look at that, I’m merely acknowledging the fact that my own country, in its infinite wisdom, has decided – not once, but twice – to exclude itself from that project (and the beneficial consequences thereof), by turning down the union’s gracious offer to join.
Living in a supposedly peace-loving country, I won’t deny having certain difficulties stomaching that attitude.
Our reiterated No to a European Union membership is based on sheer selfishness, clad as gravely mistaken socialism, branding the peace project a result of the market forces’ attempt to control the continent and its resources.
The thing is, though, if it hadn’t been for Norway’s vast oil and petroleum resources, we’d be begging on our knees to join. That’s right, good people, that’s the kind of people we are, paying heed to no-one’s interests but our own. Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen didn’t make up Troll, to thyself be – enough, based on nothing, you know.
Which makes our decision not to partake all the more discouraging – and the esteem in which we ought to hold ourselves all the lower. Not so, I’m afraid. On the contrary, we see ourselves as knights in shining armour, yet devoid of an actual will to contribute.
So you see, dear fellow Europeans, it is with much grief and humility I humbly ask your forgiveness, and permission to partake in what to me seems a bitter-sweet celebration – however unworthy. I remain, nonetheless, very happy for you.
Many happy returns on the 20th anniversary – as well as the 58th!