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World War I: Peace should never be taken for granted

During a debate between European Parliament political group leaders, the Commission, and the Council on the legacy and lessons to be learnt from World War I, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer stressed that to mark this anniversary the EU's message should be that it will never support war. She warned: “Peace is fragile and should never be taken for granted in the EU.”

She recalled an important initiative organised by the GUE/NGL group in Brussels and Ypres in March, in cooperation with peace initiatives and networks, which included a visit to the “In Flanders Fields” museum where the story of WW1 is presented without “glorifying or heroifying the event”.

She advised EU leaders visiting the area on 26 June to include a visit to this museum “which brings to mind the importance of not lapsing into nationalism”, adding that the “EU must prevent a repetition of this war”.

MEP Zimmer added: “We can talk about the European Union as a symbol of peace, but if the younger generation does not feel that the EU has peace as its overarching vision, then it is our task to focus on what is preventing them from committing to the EU project, their problems with the crisis, youth unemployment, the lack of solidarity and banking dominance.

“We have to work together for their interests to prove to them that they are equals in Europe with equal opportunities.

“World War I was a negative milestone in weaponry, especially with the mass production and deployment of chemical weapons. It was also a first for resistance and the emergence of conscientious objectors. We need to reinstate pacifism. For us that would mean that we need to protect people who refuse military action and uncover violations of human rights. For this reason, a joint initiative between the European Parliament and the Council of Europe for the protection of whistleblowers would be an important signal.

She concluded: “We also need to ask ourselves today what it means when we see an escalation of conflicts which could lead to a dynamic that no one would be able to stop.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
David Lundy +32 470 85 05 09
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group