Council President Tusk adressed the General Assembly of the United Nations with a vibrant speech on the values of the Union. Starting with a quote of his last year intervention, “isolationism will never be Europe’s policy” Donald Tusk recalled that 2016 has been a difficult year, but that Europe will always stand for a free and open world governed by the rule of law, where nations can trade and grow together, instead of living in conflict, mistrust and intrigue.
Talking about the new UN leadership he invited to reflect on the kind of international system we have today, and the one we want for the future. The League of Nations – he stated – failed in its mission to protect peace and international security as it was paralysed by inertia, fatalism and, finally, by cowardice. “I can see similar phenomena everywhere today. This is due to the rise of fear. Fear of war, fear of terrorism and the fear of strangers. Globalisation makes fear ore contagious and more potent” he added.
Refugee protection and the mass displacement of persons across borders were the issues that the European Union had to face in the last months, and it did it driven by empathy and the readiness to offer help to those in need, even if the world turns its back and pretends not to see, spending billions of euros to fund humanitarian assistance in the hope and expectation that global solidarity will now kick in to provide health, education and jobs for the millions of people currently displaced, and to scale up resettlement.
“Europe is, and will be active everywhere where war is imminent or is already raging”, with the main goal of peace.
According to President Tusk, Europe had to deal with Ukraine, which “has been attacked by Russia” and is now concerned with conflicts in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, “where the very statehood of these countries is in danger.” The rising wave of terror worldwide and against the people of Europe, carried out by many terrorist organisations, in particular by Daesh can only be tackled by a global strategy and network against terrorism, to prevent radicalisation while facing the issues of foreign fighters and terrorist financing. Europe, he recalled, “is working with partners from Asia to the Gulf and the Sahel on building up global capacities against violent extremism. We are upgrading our borders to ensure that terrorists cannot pass, or re-enter, and are working with communities to prevent young people from becoming infected with hatred.”
Council President drew the attention of the Assembly to the fact that the European Union is the world’s largest donor of development and humanitarian aid, and that will not change, as only a sustainable development can drive reform of the international system by offering an opportunity to address many problems in one process: namely insecurity, poverty, underdevelopment, climate change and uncontrolled migration.
His closing remarks adressed the issue of climate change, to which the EU is fully committed having had a comprehensive policy in place for years. The ambitious target for 2030, and the EU ratification of the Paris agreement will be completed soon, showing that the readiness to take responsibility for our common future is fully shared by Europe.