By MEP Tunne Kelam (EE/EPP)
Subtitled “anti-totalitarian courage and political renewal”, Ludger Kühnhardt’s “The Reunification of Europe” has recently been published by the EPP Group in a Spanish language version. The book brings together a collection of narratives documenting the struggle to overthrow Communist totalitarianism in ten Central and Eastern European countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s, and their accession to the EU in 2004.
In my introduction to the edition, I point out that, even though we’ve now experienced many years of a reunited Europe, our own knowledge of what took place under totalitarian rule is inadequate. There is clearly a void to fill in our perception of how free civil society was finally restored in the region, but sharing our different experiences of losing and regaining democracy with our friends, the longer-established members of the European Union can also be daunting.
Despite significant continental reunification since the fall of Communism in 1989, we still need to work on European integration from an intellectual and historical point of view, to compare and integrate the many different perceptions of our common history, and this edition addresses some of the issues to be overcome: regional-centric attitudes, traditions, prejudice and even, increasingly, fear. However, achieving such a harmonious view will require more than simply leaving the debate at the level of political and economic equality.
The book demonstrates how important it is to strive for an open and genuine acceptance of others. It is interesting that, despite our many years of common experience at this point, we still need to remember that each and every Member State has a unique and enriching contribution to make to the continuing construction of our common European home.
As the book is now available in Spanish, its hopeful message for the future should reach an even wider audience. The English version of the book is already available in the Library, the Spanish version will follow soon.
Tunne Kelam is a European People’s Party Group (EPP) Member of the European Parliament since 2004. He was an influential leader in the restoration of independence and in the rebuilding of the democratic institutions of Estonia. In the European Parliament his focus is on foreign affairs, human rights and security and defense. Tunne Kelam is also a well-known as a photographer, he has held exhibitions throughout Estonia as well other European cities.