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The history of the world is the world’s court of justice – Friedrich Von Schiller

Westerplatter, Gdansk, Poland: Where the 70th anniversary of the war was marked this week.

Westerplatter, Gdansk, Poland: Where the 70th anniversary of the war was marked this week.

 Moscow and Warsaw have been trading verbal blows over the circumstances of the outbreak of WW II – the opening of which began 70 years ago this week.

To anyone who follows the European Parliament it seems that historical disputes are never far from the surface. The arrival of countries from central and Eastern Europe in 2004 and 2007, with their painful memories of Soviet rule, has simply added a new dimension to this.

 This is particularly true when it comes to relations with Russia. The ghosts of history are now very much floating around the hemicycle – which could be a good place to exorcise many of them.

 One source of controversy with Russia has been that the last Parliament called for 23 August (the date of the Nazi-Soviet pact) to be made a day of remembrance for the victims of Nazism and Stalinism.

 In April, an MEP resolution declared…that “Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history, recognises Nazism, Stalinism and fascist and Communist regimes as a common legacy and brings about an honest and thorough debate…”.

As resistance to Nazi invasion is seen as one of the most glorious chapter in Russia and Soviet history, any attempt to equate them both as dual evils has led to furious reaction in Moscow. The question arises as to what extent Russia will loom over the next European Parliament and to what extent relations will develop.

 

History is, indeed, an argument without end – A.M. Schlesinger, Jr. 

Of course controversy about the Second World War is not limited to people whose countries took part. In October 2006 at a signing ceremony to mark the purchase of the Parliament from the city of Strasbourg (on the Franco German border and symbol of post war reconciliation in Western Europe) Parliament’s then President, Spaniard Josep Borrell hit out at the campaign organised by Swedish MEP to have the Parliament’s seat moved to Brussels.

“Europe will not be united unless it is able to form a common view of its history” – EP resolution

 In his remarks Mr Borrell alluded to the Stockholm’s neutrality during the war saying “this historic dimension cannot be perceived in the same way in ’some Nordic country’ which did not participate in WWII”.  For his troubles Mr Borrell was assailed by various parts of the Swedish press.

 Only time will tell how this newly elected European Parliament deals with historical disputes. The end of the term coincides with the 100 years since the start if the 1914-18 war which opened the 20th century’s long “civil war”.

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