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European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism

European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism

3/27/2009 11:29:56 AM
European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism 

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the universal principles of human rights and the fundamental principles of the European Union as a community based on common values,

–  having regard to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on 10 December 1948,

–  having regard to the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law adopted by the Council of the European Union on 26 February 2008,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in placeEurope,

–  having regard to Resolution 1481 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 26 January 2006 on the need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian Communist regimes,

–  having regard to the hearing on crimes committed by totalitarian regimes organised by the Commission in CityplaceBrussels on 8 April 2008,

–  having regard to the resolutions and declarations on the crimes of totalitarian Communist regimes adopted by a number of national parliaments,

–  having regard to the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism adopted on 3 June 2008,

–  having regard to its declaration on the proclamation of 23 August as European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism adopted on 23 September 2008,

–  having regard to the forthcoming Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets and the initiatives taken in this area by the US Congress,

–  having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the 20th-century history of placeEurope is marked by massacres of human beings by other human beings on an extraordinary scale made possible mainly by the usurpation of absolute power by totalitarian Communist and Nazi regimes,

B.  whereas the extreme forms of totalitarian rule practised by the Nazi, fascist and Soviet Communist dictatorships led to premeditated and massive crimes being perpetrated against millions of human beings and their basic and inalienable rights on a scale never before seen in history,

C.  whereas European integration was a direct response to the wars and terror caused by the totalitarian regimes on our continent,

D.  whereas the international moral and political appraisal of these crimes is asymmetrical, given that there is still no authoritative, generally accepted European assessment of the crimes of totalitarian Communism,

E.  whereas there is an evident need for the public exposure and for a moral assessment of the practices of the totalitarian Communist regimes, which took the form of systematic and ruthless military, economic and political repression of the people by means of arbitrary executions, mass arrests, deportations, the suppression of free expression, private property and civil society and the destruction of cultural and moral identity and which deprived the vast majority of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe of their basic human rights and dignity,

F.  whereas the moral and political appraisal of totalitarian crimes does not in any way undermine the supremacy of an individual approach to these crimes, which can be judged only on the basis of the principles of the rule of law, which do not recognise collective criminal responsibility,

G.  whereas Europe will never be united unless it is able to reunite its history, recognise Communism and Nazism as a common legacy and conduct an honest and thorough debate on all the totalitarian crimes of the past century,

H.  whereas, five years after the 2004 enlargement, knowledge among Europeans about the totalitarian regimes which terrorised their fellow citizens in Central and Eastern Europe for more than 40 years, separating them from democratic European by means of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, is still alarmingly superficial and inadequate,

placeI.  whereas this situation has also brought about de facto inequality among the victims of different totalitarian regimes, with millions of victims of Communist totalitarianism deprived of justice, international recognition of their suffering and pan-European solidarity,

J.  whereas the continuing ambiguity in our approach to the crimes of totalitarian Communist regimes against millions of their citizens has proved to be an obstacle to the strengthening of European solidarity and equality and is contributing to the mental division of the EU into 'West' and 'East',

K.  whereas in 2009 a reunited Europe will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Communist dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe and of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which should provide both an opportunity to enhance awareness of the past and recognise the role of democratic citizens’ initiatives and an incentive to strengthen feelings of togetherness and cohesion,

L.  whereas Commissioner Jacques Barrot, in a plenary debate of 21 April 2008, expressed his conviction that all Europeans together have a duty to establish a common truth, without exclusion and without minimising the crimes perpetrated by different totalitarian regimes,

   1.Concludes that every victim of any totalitarian regime has the same human dignity and deserves justice, remembrance, pan-European recognition and a guarantee that the events in question will never be repeated;
   2.Calls for pan-European understanding of the fact that both the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes of the 20th century have to be assessed and judged on their own terrible merits;
   3.Notes that all these regimes regarded state violence as an acceptable, preferred and effective method of retaining absolute control over their subjects and that these regimes often resorted to extreme forms of terror, stifling all civic and human freedoms, starting aggressive wars and, as inseparable part of their ideologies, exterminating, crushing and crippling whole nations and ethnic groups on racial, social and political grounds, so that they should be considered the main moral, political and social disasters that blighted the 20th century;
   4.Recognises Communist totalitarianism as an integral and horrific part of placeEurope’s common history and calls for the acceptance of pan-European responsibility for its crimes;
   5.Takes the view that many crimes committed in the name of totalitarian Communism should be assessed as crimes against humanity and should serve as a warning to future generations, in the same way as Nazi crimes have been assessed and are remembered;
   6.Condemns strongly and unequivocally these crimes against humanity and the massive human rights violations committed by totalitarian Communist regimes; offers the victims of these crimes and their family members sympathy, understanding and recognition of their suffering;
   7.Is concerned that the collapse of totalitarian Communist regimes in Europe has not been followed in all cases by an international investigation of the crimes they committed, and urges all post-Communist states to carry out a moral and political assessment of their recent past and to provide the resources needed for academic research and the establishment of facts;
   8.Regards the lack of an authoritative moral and political assessment of these crimes as a potential source of frustration, cynicism and social alienation for millions of citizens, which must be seen as a major obstacle to the formation of robust civil societies in the post-Communist countries and a factor slowing down the pace of European integration;
   9.Calls for a pan-European public and academic debate on the nature, history and legacy of the totalitarian regimes on the basis of an international legal framework guaranteeing unrestricted access to all archives and files that contain information about the crimes of totalitarian Communism;
   10.Calls for the establishment of a Platform of European Memory and Conscience which would provide support for networking and cooperation among national research institutes specialising in the subject of totalitarian history and for creating a pan-European documentation centre/memorial for the victims of all totalitarian regimes;
   11.Considers that European history textbooks need to be revised and updated in order to educate all schoolchildren about the disastrous consequences of totalitarian dictatorships;
   12.Calls for a strengthening of the existing relevant financial instruments with a view to providing support for the proposals outlined above;
   13.Calls on all the EU governments to establish 23 August, the day on which the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact was signed in 1939, as the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism;
   14.Is convinced that the ultimate goal sought through the disclosure and assessment of the crimes committed by the Communist totalitarian regimes is reconciliation, which can be achieved by admitting responsibility, asking for forgiveness and fostering moral renewal;
   15.Wishes to become a partner with the Council and Commission in seeking ways of moving towards an honest and open appraisal of our common 20th-century legacy of totalitarianism in order to deepen the integration of all European citizens and prevent any recurrence of the horrors of totalitarianism, now and in the future;
   16.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.
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