Annemie: herkozen als ELDR voorzitter

Op het 28ste ELDR congres te Berlijn werd Annemie herkozen met 80% van de stemmen

Dit is de speech die Annemie bracht bij de opening van het congres. Meer vindt u op


Dear Prime Minister,

Dear Commissioners,

Dear Party leader,

Dear Friends,

Chères Amies, Chers Amis,

Liebe Freundinnen und Freunden,



J’ai le plaisir et l’honneur de vous souhaiter la bienvenue au 28ième congrès de l’ELDR où nous sommes les invités du FDP que je remercie de tout cœur de nous recevoir ici en cette belle ville de Berlin. De toutes les capitales européennes, Berlin est sans doute la plus emblématique. Qu’elle soit redevenue la capitale de la République Fédérale d’Allemagne après avoir si douloureusement symbolisé pendant plus de quatre décennies la grande déchirure du continent européen constitue, tout comme le dernier élargissement de l’Union Européenne, la marque ô combien tangible du succès inégalé de l’Union Européenne.


Faut-il que nous, les citoyens de la «vieille Europe» soyons devenus égoïstes et égocentriques, sourds et aveugles à tout ce qui n’est pas nous, pour ne pas nous émerveiller jour après jour, année après année, de compter parmi «nos» capitales Prague, Varsovie, Budapest, Bucarest, Sofia, Talin, Vilnius, Riga, Ljubljana et la Valette. Alors que Nicosie reste coupée en deux par une «ligne verte» qui pour être en bois, n’en est pas moins affreuse, Berlin, plus belle que jamais, a pansé ses plaies et repris le rang qui est le sien parmi les cités européennes.


Meine lieben Freundinnen und Freunde, einen Koffer nach Berlin tragen ist immer wieder ein ganz besonderes Vergnügen und ich danke der FDP herzlich dafür uns dieses Vergnügen zu bieten. Einen ELDR Kongress auszurichten ist aber kein einfaches Unterfangen, denn dann hat man es mit unserer Generalsekretärin zu tun, die aus Norditalien stammt. Sie kombiniert also Nordliche Präzision mit südlichem Temperament – eine explosive, aber sehr effective Mischung. Aber, lieber Guido, auch ihre Mitarbeiter sind starke Persönlichkeiten und zusammen haben unsere Teams uns einen schönen und interessanten Kongress vorbereitet.


Dear Friends, last year’s 27th ELDR congress took place in Bucharest, a very appropriate venue in view of the soon to materialize EU – membership of Romania and Bulgaria.   Enlargement however was not the central theme of our congress.




We concentrated upon the internal and external security of the Union firstly to take stock of recent developments in both fields and secondly because we wanted to reaffirm our strong belief that the four freedoms that are at the heart of the whole European undertaking should remain firmly anchored in the centre of all EU policies.


The four freedoms are the free movement of people, goods, capital and services that are at the heart of the economic policies of the Union which remain dedicated to the completion of a truly open and single market. In other areas, however, freedom of movement, especially of people, has come under suspicion.


My husband and I have travelled to South – East Asia this summer. We have been photographed upon entering each country we visited, and several times upon leaving as well. Many of our delegates are frequent flyers and we all have experienced hilarious, irritating and sometimes even offensive instances at airports inside the Union and elsewhere.


Millions of people each day are thus treated as potential wrongdoers whose movements are tracked. One wonders whether these extraordinary measures, including the obligation to carry liquids and gels in a transparent plastic pouch, serve any other purpose than to offer a token sense of security.

Several Liberal members of the European Parliament are at the forefront of the struggle to prevent security measures to unduly curtail citizens’ rights to travel and generally to move around freely, and their’s is a brave struggle that deserves support.

Curtailing the free movement of every single person cannot possibly be the right answer to the threat of terrorism. Even trying to keep track of all such movements is so daunting an undertaking that it is doomed to failure and utter futility.

Terrorism moreover is not just a security issue; it is first and foremost a political issue.

And it is a formidable political issue, probably the most daunting one we are faced with. One might be forgiven to dodge it and look at it from the security side which at first sight appears easier to do and, as I said, gives one a false sense of being sensible. In the meanwhile all of our citizens come under suspicion, while the political issues are allowed to fester.


The European Security and Defence Policy is being developed to give the European Union the military means to carry out what we used to call the Petersberg tasks, that is to make peace, to keep peace and to allow for urgent humanitarian intervention.

Several such missions have been undertaken or are being carried out, in the Western Balkans but also in Aceh ( Indonesia), in Eastern Congo and most recently in and around the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Another ESDP-mission is under preparation: a one year mission to eastern Chad and the north of the République Centre – Africaine. It is authorised by the UN Security Council and it is aimed at stabilising a region near the Darfur in order to facilitate a UN operation in the Darfur proper.


For several years now, many hands were wrung over the horrors in the Darfur and many clamours were heard that we needed to do something. But now that something might be under way, it appears that the member states are reluctant to release the funds necessary to finance the operation and even more reluctant to commit troops and material.


This is not serious to say the least. If we want the EU to play a role in world affairs and to really contribute to make the world a safer place, we should be true to our rhetoric and follow up on our declarations with acts. And if we are unwilling to act, to commit troops, finances and material, we should just shut up. But then we should also stop complaining when the United States act in a way we don’t like, or when Russia treats the Union with barely disguised contempt, or when China and India and Japan don’t listen when we want them to exercise pressure upon Burma, or upon Sudan.


The inconvenient truth, I am afraid, is that the European Union can ill afford to retreat from the world, because the world has really become a village, a village    with some very messy quarters. And those quarters intrude upon us, even when we would prefer to look the other way.


I believe that we are nearing an important moment of truth, the moment to coldly assess where we stand as individual state, as a member state of the European Union and as a member of what used to be called the concert of nations, I mean the United Nations.


Those of us who belong to nations that once were empires might believe to be strong enough to run their own course, independently from everything and everybody else, but surely they know deep down that this is an illusion. Those of us who belong to small nations might believe that they can escape unwelcome attention, but theirs’ are generally trading nations that very much depend upon others. The inconvenient truth, once again, is that there is no escaping from the outside world.




We will of necessity need to continuously concentrate on these issues of security, both internal and external, because our future depends on it.

At the same time we will need to work hard on the most daunting political issue we are faced with, that is how to respond politically to the threat of terrorism.


I believe Liberals are especially well equipped to take on these challenges. While acknowledging the worth of national and cultural heritages, we are generally not prone to narrow minded nationalism, and even less to all strands of chauvinism. While recognising the importance of good functioning states and state structures, we recognise the unique value of each and every human being.

While recognising the paramount value of justice and equity, we value individual freedom at least as much.


When I was the president of the Liberal International I have experienced time and again that these beliefs are shared by Liberals all over the world. This being so we are as Liberals indeed well suited to tackle the most pressing issues of our era.


The European Union has been mostly inward looking for the last few years: enlargement and treaty reform have taken up a lot of energy. Understandably, we European Liberals have done the same.


In the meanwhile, however, the world hasn’t stood still.

It is high time to renew the acquaintance from the different angles of the fight against climate change, the opening up of the world economies, and the peaceful spread of democracy.


This is why we also have invited speakers from far away: Cambodia, India and China.


Liberal members of National Parliaments and of the European Parliament have a special responsibility in all of these issues and this is why we have devised a special programme for them at this congress.


We hope to encourage them to exchange experiences and practices, so as to help build a true network of Liberal Parliamentarians from all over Europe.

This same weekend the Heads of State and Governments of the European Union meet in Lisbon for a very important summit, which will hopefully reach a final agreement on the Revised Treaty and which will also assess the progress of the Lisbon agenda aimed at turning the Union into the first knowledge society of the world.


I am most grateful that the Prime Minister of Denmark has been willing to stop by Berlin on his way to Lisbon. He will bring to Lisbon our wishes for a successful conclusion of the long path to treaty reform. The treaty does not contain all we have wished for but, as it stands, it is better than what we have now. I hope that after this summit we will be able to concentrate on its ratification so that the Union will be better equipped to deal with today’s huge challenges.


I am also proud and thankful that two commissioners have come to Berlin to address us. The Vice-President of the Commission, Siim Kallas is from Estonia, a new state that freed itself from the Soviet Union less than twenty years ago, and that courageously embarked on the road to bold reform. Siim Kallas is now in charge with an almost as challenging task, the streamlining of the inner workings of the Commission. Olli Rehn, fromFinland, is doing an absolutely great job as commissioner in charge of enlargement. While the enthusiasm for enlargement was slowly waning, he kept the pace and the path. He has been instrumental in helpingRomania and Bulgaria to join the Union on 1 January 2007 and is now conducting the negotiations with Croatia and Turkey.


Before we listen to them however, we will hear Guido Westerwelle, the leader of our host party, the FDP. Guido has guided his party to a tremendous success during the last German federal elections and now leads his party as the largest   opposition party in Germany.


Guido, I once again thank you very much for hosting this congress and give you the floor.





Annemie Neyts–Uyttebroeck

ELDR President