Sources: PA, Czech news agency, CTK
Stand by for an unpleasant weekend as assembled statesmen, politicians and other worthies seek out new heights of rhetoric in their search to applaud the wondrous European Union and the largest enlargement in its history.
As an example of things to come, Blair gave a “passionate” speech tonight at the bun-fight organised by the Foreign Office in London, although he failed to avoid the usual hackneyed clichés which have marked this coming event.
Enlargement was a “historic moment of opportunity, change and progress for these countries”.
He added that the new Europe was the result of fighting off the “forces of darkness” of the past. “These are countries whose desire for freedom and independence is measured in the blood and sacrifice of countless millions of people.”
Talking to a Czech journalist, Guenter Verheugen, the German commissioner responsible for enlargement, earlier struck a sourer note. He believes that 1 May should be a day to remind people of the basic reasons for enlargement. Nevertheless – and we can certainly warm to this sentiment - he thinks there is sometimes a feeling that the basics have already been said too many times.
“Europeans”, he maintains, “are very talented at forgetting rather quickly what we have achieved. The enlargement that will now take place is one of the most important policy achievements since World War II, and it will contribute to guaranteeing peace, stability, and security in an area from the Baltic to the Black Sea,”
With a certain sense of finality – or even wishful thinking - Verheugen then stated, “All difficulties are secondary compared to that. My advice to politicians in the current and future member states is to explain the fundamentals to people. They will understand.
Don't worry, Mr Verheugen. We will.