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Whitsun Dialogue 2013

Whitsun  Dialogue 2013
„United States of Europe. Hope. Venture."
15 to 17 May 2013, Schloss Seggau, Styria

Is further European integration and a move towards a United States of Europe the necessary consequence and a desirable goal or do we want something quite different? This was the question raised on the evening of 15 May by Kristina Edlinger-Ploder, Styrian Minister for Science and Research, as she opened the fifth Whitsun Dialogue ‘Geist & Gegenwart’ at Schloss Seggau near Leibnitz in Southern Styria. In his opening address, First Deputy Governor of Styria Hermann Schützenhöfer said: “The dream our mothers and fathers had of people living together in peace in Europe has indeed come true and yet nowadays we find ourselves at a loss of what to do with it. The focus is on debit and credit with no mention of meaning and intent. This is a Europe that’s no longer about Europe!"

“The aim of the European Union’s founding fathers was to overcome the nationalism that had been the source of many wars by gradually assigning responsibilities of nation states to supranational authorities; yet that all seems to have been forgotten about", said Austrian writer Robert Menasse, who was representing Alpbach President Franz Fischler and who together with EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn held keynote speeches at the event. For this reason Menasse spoke out strongly against the use of the term ‘United States of Europe’. “There never were any nation states in the USA in the first place so it is not at all comparable with the situation here in Europe. Here, of course, we have countries with a long history and we also have national politicians who have no interest in doing themselves out of a job. In my opinion, what we are currently facing is primarily a political rather than a financial crisis. The European Union’s founding fathers were fully aware of what they were endeavouring to do - establishing something entirely new. It’s about the formation of the world’s first post-national continent, about something that makes it worthwhile fighting for a joint European future." In his speech, EU Commissioner Hahn doubted that national states will eventually disappear, but supported Menasse’s call for a European vision. “Europe faces enormous challenges in the 21st century. It finds itself having to defend its position at international level and this can only be achieved in a united Europe." Hahn cited a reduction in current dependency on energy imports and effective joint foreign policy as being among key future challenges.
The long list of prominent speakers at this three-day event includes: Diocesan Bishop Egon Kapellari as host; Alpbach EU expert Werner Weidenfeld; Caritas President Franz Küberl; National Bank President Claus Raidl; Alexander van der Bellen; economist Margit Schratzenstaller; former ECB Director Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell; EU Director General Wolfgang Burtscher; Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Evangelical Superintendent Hermann Miklas; Science Minister Karlheinz Töchterle; Gerhart Holzinger, President of the Constitutional Court; EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer; authors and publicists Dzevad Karahasan, Julya Rabinowich, György Dalos, Olga Flor, Valerie Fritsch and numerous scientists.
The Whitsun Dialogue ‘Geist & Gegenwart 2013’ is held under the auspices of Governor Franz Voves and First Deputy Governor Hermann Schützenhöfer, the two key actors of the Styrian reform partnership. The event is organised by the Styrian Government in partnership with the Diocese of Graz-Seckau and in cooperation with JOANNEUM RESEARCH and Club Alpbach Steiermark and is supported by numerous sponsors and partners. The symposium runs until 17 May, providing ample opportunity for discussions on the general topic of “United States of Europe. Hope. Venture”.