ECPM-CU: Freedom and Security in Europe and Its Neighborhood

Saturday, March 16, 2024

ECPM-CU: Freedom and Security in Europe and Its Neighborhood

On the occasion of the upcoming European Elections in June, ECPM together with its member party ChristenUnie held a campaign conference focused on the topic of freedom and security in and outside the EU. Russia’s aggressive war in Ukraine, the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan, the war in Gaza and its resonance in European cities are proof that freedom and peace are not to be taken for granted in the broader European continent.

Dutch theologian laureate Kees van Ekris opened the event with a reflection on a passage from the Gospel of John, chapter 12, which he used as support to point to the fact that humans are flawed and broken but that institutions in our world (like the Church, the government, democratic systems, the law etc.) are there to guide and correct us. He reminded the audience that Jesus is the Light and as long as we walk with him, darkness will not overcome us. Jesus' teachings of love, unity, a servant heart are (or should be) at the core of these corrective systems and institutions meant to protect and safeguard us.

He was followed by Viktor Biyagov, the Ambassador of Armenia to the Netherlands who spoke about the dire situation in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and ways the EU could engage in the area. He impressed upon the audience that Armenian democracy is under great pressure, still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, from Azerbaijan's offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh and from tens of thousands of internally displaced people. The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh led to the destruction and erasure of many historical and cultural sites, especially of Christian heritage and significance. On this point, he sees a great contribution CU and ECPM can have by raising awareness and bringing this region and conflict in the international political spotlight.

Mart de Kruif, retired Lt. General and former commander of the Royal Dutch Army, delivered a sobering speech on the state of war in Ukraine, on Europe's defense policy and the role of European politics. The General's perspective is marked by the experiences of his parents who lived through WWII. From them, he learned that forgiveness and reconciliation are the reason Europe has experienced an almost uninterrupted period of peace and stability for 80 years. De Kruif emphasized that freedom for all these years required intentionality and continual action to uphold, but that lately Europe became complacent and ignored the signals indicating Putin's imperialistic ambitions long before the invasion of Ukraine actually happened. He also touched on the fragility of NATO, especially if Donald Trump will become president again, in which case the European countries must swiftly work towards integrating their military and equipment. De Kruif concluded with a call to vigilance and preparedness, to increasing societal resilience and to strengthening young people's formation and education.

ECPM President Valeriu Ghilețchi spoke about our campaign across the European Union and about the common work with the ChristenUnie MEP, Anja Haga. He explained that ECPM is one of the ten European political parties in the European Parliament and its uniqueness lies in its explicit promotion of Christian values in European politics which ECPM does together with Anja Haga and its other MEPs. He also introduced the audience to our seven spearheads and political manifesto for the EU2024 elections. The president expressed appreciation for CU's election slogan: 'your freedom, our mission'. Having been born and raised in a time when Moldova was part of the Soviet Union, he knows what it is like to not live in freedom. Ghilețchi especially emphasized the importance of defending the freedom of religion and belief in Europe and beyond, echoing the ambassador's description of the situation in Armenia.

The ChristenUnie head of list for the European elections is Anja Haga. She shared with the audience her experiences in the European Parliament and what it felt being a Christian in European politics. Ms. Haga also spoke about the importance of freedom of religion or belief and about the persecution of Christians worldwide, as she made it a priority in her current mandate. She also spoke about the Christians' duty to care for the environment and that she welcomed and supported the EP's efforts and leadership on global standards for sustainability.

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From 2010 on, the activities of the ECPM are financially supported by the European Parliament. The liability for any communication or publication by the ECPM, in any form and any medium, rests with the ECPM. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.