Het Congres van Wenen 2.0

PARIJS – Tweehonderd jaar geleden, op 25 september 1814, werden de Russische tsaar Alexander I en koning Friedrich Wilhelm III van Pruisen bij de poorten van Wenen verwelkomd door de Oostenrijkse keizer Franz I. Het begin van het Congres van Wenen luidde de langste periode van vrede in die Europa eeuwenlang had gekend. Waarom wordt deze verjaardag nu dan nagenoeg genegeerd?

Het Congres van Wenen wordt weliswaar meestal beschouwd als de bevestiging van de overwinning van de reactionaire krachten in Europa na de nederlaag van Napoleon. Maar gezien de huidige mondiale verwarring, zo niet chaos, hoeft zoiets als 'Proustiaanse' nostalgie naar het Congres niet ondenkbaar te zijn. Dit was immers een bijeenkomst die, via harde maar succesvolle onderhandelingen, de internationale orde wist te herstellen na de ontwrichtingen die waren teweeggebracht door de Franse Revolutie en de Napoleontische Oorlogen. Kunnen we vandaag de dag die lessen nog toepassen?

Om die vraag te kunnen beantwoorden moeten we niet alleen naar het uit 1815 stammende Verdrag van Wenen kijken, maar ook naar de Vrede van Westfalen uit 1648 en naar het Verdrag van Versailles uit 1919, die ieder op hun eigen manier een einde hebben gemaakt aan een bloedig hoofdstuk uit de Europese geschiedenis.

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