Extracts of the speech by President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, at the Commemoration of the Nazi massacre at Cibeno
“My pilgrimage here today has only one reason – to remember that it is not enough to believe that you are safe. I want to reiterate that the horror that overwhelmed us was born in great democratic, liberal, even progressive cultures. In a time of great technological inventions, of discoveries, of cosmopolitan and exceptional artists, writers and philosophers of ingenuity, but all incapable of sensing in time the danger of fascism and Nazism.”
The President stressed the need to be vigilant against rising intolerance:
“They say the same to us today, when we say to save migrants, they tell us that we are playing the game of smugglers, or that the independent judiciary or journalism are expressions of disorder, or that it is going against common sense when we defend the dignity of people who want to love each other.”
“In Cibeno, here in Fossoli it happened. It can happen again.”
“Giuseppe Dossetti wrote that historical awareness alone is not enough. Our conscience must be alert, capable of “opposing every beginning of a system of evil”. This is why we cannot afford to underestimate the manifestations of hatred, violence, discrimination that occur now in the European space.”
He went on to focus on what Europe has done to protect fundamental values and why authoritarian regimes increasingly target Europe:
“It is good that the debate on the recovery, on the reconstruction of our economies, runs hand in hand with concerns over the defence of the rule of law, of our fundamental values, of the freedoms that must be guaranteed to our citizens. Never before had the debate over the worrying trends in some European states been so actively followed, and followed up with new and unprecedented sanction mechanisms.”
“The pandemic has hit and stopped Europe and the world. This time, however, Europe was not passive as it was during the financial crisis of ten years ago. This time Europe was able to take a leap forward. Not an ordinary answer, but a paradigm shift. Which is a prelude - so we want to think - to a more just and stronger Europe with a global outlook.”
“Why do all authoritarian regimes care about us? There is only one reason. European values are frightening, because freedoms allow for equality, justice, transparency, opportunity, peace. And if it is possible in Europe, it is possible everywhere.
“This is why we do not tolerate that in the European space there are countries where the judiciary or journalism are attacked for doing their work, where an anti-Semitic wind forces European Jewish families to move to North America or Canada, where immigrants and refugees are considered a problem, in which women are underpaid, in which national laws produce discrimination, in which European territories are declared ‘LGBTI free zones’. In Europe, the rights of every person are the rights of all.”
Finally, President Sassoli explained why Europe must continue to develop:
“Europe is a construction that is always in progress. And it must never stop. It is a construction site that never stops operating, or if you want, it is a cathedral whose construction requires the commitment of successive generations.
“For this reason, we are determined to speed up the accession process of the Western Balkans, and to keep the promises made by Europe for a reconciliation of the political space with the geographical space. We do not want the disappointment of Albania and North Macedonia to prevail and their gaze to turn elsewhere. And the same goes for all those countries that still feel a strong desire to be part of our family.”