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23/06/2006 04:06 Local Time 
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Speech by Prime Minister and President of the European Council C.Simitis at the Accession Treaty signing ceremony, 16/4/2003

C.Simitis
“Today is a historic day:
• Because we are overcoming the division of European countries into two opposing camps, Eastern and Western Europe, a division caused by the Second World War.
• Because almost all the countries of Europe are now participating in the European Union.
• Because this unified whole is inspired by the principles and values which inspired the struggles of our societies for freedom, democracy and social justice.
• Because today it is once again affirmed that cooperation and solidarity among us has created a political and economic area with an important role in developments in the global community, an area which attracts and inspires, an area that is respected and heeded.

Today is a historic day.

Because our achievement today creates new obligations for us:

• To see the present and the future with sincerity and creativity.
• Not to settle for just managing our achievements to date, but to advance the process of unification. To give the configuration we have created a more complete form and new content.
• To give the Union greater substance vis-à-vis external policy, security and defence, so that it can play the role befitting its potential and aspirations. So that we are not simply called on to handle the situation in the aftermath of war, but have a decisive say about ‘if’ and ‘when’.
• To serve in the international community as a pole of peace, cooperation and support to peoples.
• To press ahead with this unprecedented experiment of a process which unifies but also endeavours to safeguard our particularities. Cooperation which binds us but also expands our freedoms. To further the experiment of many countries with different levels of economic growth and social development, which are however intertwined in a single area of freedom and democracy.

This day creates new obligations:
• To ensure employment and prosperity for our citizens by combating unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.
• To adjust the European social model to the new social conditions, so that our progress ensures greater social cohesion and justice.
• To win the battle for sustainable development and put an end to the downgrading of the environment.
• To promote a society of knowledge with responsible, informed and competent citizens. A civil society. 

Here, in this place, the Agora of Athens, two and a half thousand years ago, people from different races and countries, people with different convictions, came into contact. They met one another with a feeling that they were in one of the centres of the civilised world.
 
Here we can realise that there is no end to history. Life will continue after today. It is up to us whether this continuation will be a history of peace, creation, cooperation and solidarity. This is what we want from the European Union”.

 


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