LAUSANNE – I was born in 1945. My grandfather was a German Jew. Fortunately, none of my immediate family perished in the Holocaust. But its shadow hung over me throughout my formative years. When I began, in my teens, to meet with German contemporaries, there was an initial reticence and discomfort. But we talked and talked and talked. There was no attempt to hide the past, but there was a burning desire to make a different future. It followed that I became an ardent Europhile.
Two decades ago, the Berlin Wall was torn asunder by jubilant crowds. Today, ten former communist nations are fully integrated members of the European Union. Were my father to reappear suddenly and I told him that Lithuania was a member state, he would stare in disbelief and wonder what I was smoking.
The sad news, however, is that as the structure of the Union (for example, the single market and the single currency) has been put in place, the spirit of unity has died. The European “project” has become an exercise of unalloyed cynicism. The most depressing illustration of this has been the handling of the “European Constitution” and the Lisbon Treaty, and the totally unedifying means by which the European president, a key part of the Lisbon Treaty, is being selected.
The good news is that Tony Blair’s candidacy seems to have been ditched. The reasons for his inappropriateness for the post are too numerous to mention – the single word “Iraq” should suffice. It would have been an act of supreme cynicism and hypocrisy, even by European standards, had he been selected.