Sunday,2007-3-18: 50 Years and 500 Weeks

Posted on 26 March 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 500 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 500

On 25 March 2007 celebrations of commemoration are held in Europe and in other countries having friendly relations with Europe, reflecting on the signing of the Treaty of Rome half a century ago by the representatives of six countries, initiating a new era of European history. It was a new beginning, based on the commitment to initiate fundamental changes between, and also in the countries that had to look back at a common history of frequent conflicts and wars against each other, including the wars of 1914 to 1918, and of 1939 to 1945, when the wars among European people and European nations had led to wars far beyond, so that these wars were called the First and the Second World Wars. The solemn words of the Treaty of Rome have to be read on the background of this history, which was to be put to rest and to be replaced by something fundamentally new:

    DETERMINED to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,

    RESOLVED to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,

    AFFIRMING as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvements of the living and working conditions of their peoples,

    RECOGNISING that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee steady expansion, balanced trade and fair competition,

    ANXIOUS to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less favored regions,

    DESIRING to contribute, by means of a common commercial policy, to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade,

    INTENDING to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

    RESOLVED by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts,

    DETERMINED to promote the development of the highest possible level of knowledge for their peoples through a wide access to education and through its continuous updating,

    HAVE DECIDED to create a EUROPEAN COMMUNITY.

50 years later – and in a European Community which has grown from 6 to 27 countries – this declaration has lead to profound changes, because from the beginning there was a serious will not only to share lofty ideas, but to actually restructure the different European national societies into a community based on common values, but embarking on this way which included the creation of common organs and functions, listed up here to show the practical functions of the new endeavor, operating through the following institutions:

Parliament, Council, Presidency, Commission, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, Economic and Social Committee, Committee of the Regions, Investment Bank, Investment Fund, Central Bank, Ombudsman, European Data Protection Supervisor, Office for Official Publications, European Personnel Selection Office, European Administrative School, and other agencies of the European Union.

When considering the future of ASEAN, there are often references made to the European Community, pointing out also to the very different historical contexts in which both communities were created and continue to develop. The globalized economy on the one hand, and the growing awareness of the threat for the future of human society from a misused and overused environment on the other, may provide some dynamism when rethinking the future of ASEAN and the wider Asian societies, beyond the bureaucratic arrangements for which the institutions of the European Community may provide some examples.

But there was a spirit of enthusiasm during the early years moving towards a united Europe which seems to be not much remembered and hardly mentioned in the present celebrations, which was also a driving force towards a united Europe: the organized and unorganized actions of young people who were impatient with the slow pace of the actions of the diplomats and politicians towards a new European community of peoples – not just of governments. Groups of students from France and Germany – historical “enemies” – were visiting each other during school holidays, traveling hundreds of kilometers on bicycle for mutual visits, sometimes clashing with the authorities of their respective countries when they broke down, in isolated symbolic acts, the barriers at border crossings between their countries, preempting the present situation. Now there are no more border controls when crossing from one country in the European Community into another.

There are some organizations to promote ASEAN, in some of the ASEAN member countries, organized “officially.” Remembering the emotional struggles of youth and students to get rid of the borders in Europe, and seeing the emotional concern often expressed nowadays to get the border markers established between different ASEAN member counties, the absence of any enthusiastic civic movements, especially of youth organizations, to engage in and to commit themselves to a deeper community among the people of the ASEAN member states is conspicuous. Celebrations, like the ones commemorating the beginnings of the European Community, may also serve as a challenge in other parts of the world to reflect bout how historical antagonisms can be converted into commitments to a common future.

The 50th anniversary of the European Community happens to coincide with the 500th week of the publication of the Mirror, a major historical event in Europe, and a very modest effort in Cambodia. While the initial intention in 1997 was to provide some access to the Khmer language print media for the English reading public, the Mirror tried from the beginning to be more than a news translation service. Mirroring the wide spectrum of opinions in Cambodian society, as they manifest themselves in print – often representing sectors of society which have conflicting positions – we try to help all voices to get attention, those more powerful and those struggling to be heard. The positive appraisals we get from time to time, from persons both closer to the government and from persons at a distance to the government, has been an encouragement to continue, in spite of obstacles put up – not from the Cambodian authorities – against this service. The voices of appraisal received showing that the Mirror is having the intended function, which we consider to be so important in Cambodian society: to present our readers not only with familiar, but also with unfamiliar voices, which both need attention, in order for a society to grow, where all its members find a place, with their common, and with their different visions towards the future, which has to be a future for all.

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