Rwanda: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the Interpeace Project

(Source: EEAS)

Check against delivery!

[Opening sentence in Rwandese] 

My Rwandese is not very good, but I see that this young girl understood me when I said that I prefer to talk to you feeling the sun of Rwanda.  

It was not foreseen that I had to address you. So, let me talk to you with my heart, instead of expressing something that I have been discussing with my staff. Let me talk with my heart. 

Let me tell you that what you are doing is something extraordinary. Something that goes beyond the animal spirit of the human being. It demands a lot of courage to talk to the ones who kill your children and forgive them. It is one thing to forgive and another thing is to forget. 

I am not a bishop. I am not a priest. I am not a specialist in forgiving. I am a politician. And politicians work to try to make people to live together in peace and prosperity.  

And, for that, you have to remember what happened, because people that do not keep memory are condemned to repeat to make the same mistakes. 

It is not one European who tells you that, because we do not have lessons to give to anyone. We have been committing the worst genocides in our history. We have reduced to slavery 30 millions of black people. We have been killing each other for centuries, because you are catholic, because you are protestant, because you are on this side of the mountain or on the other side of the river. 

But we also decided to stop fighting and create a unity based on reconciliation and this reconciliation is also based on the memory. We want to build a better future, because we remember how awful was the past. And I want to thank this Interpeace Organisation. I want to thank the Swedish government for the efforts and the resources that they are devoting to this process. 

But most of all, I want to thank all of you, who are giving an extraordinary lesson of humanity. Because to forgive such atrocities must be very difficult.  

I am coming from a country, Spain, which suffered an awful civil war many years ago, and people still look at the other, thinking of the past and blaming each other for what happened. But we cannot build a future by blaming each other for what happened in the past.  

At a certain moment, massacres have to finish. At a certain moment, humanity has to win the battle against the devil. Has to win the battle against the devil that all of us have in our soul.  

The devil that makes people kill their neighbour. And you have been witnessing and suffering this at a great scale. And the wounds are still there. How not? I know that hundreds of thousands of people from Rwanda are still traumatised from the awful experience of the genocide. And rightly so, how not ?  

This has to be overcome. And the only way of overcoming it is the way you are doing. This requires an incredible human courage, because I know from my personal experience how difficult it is to forgive.  

So, here in the Bugesera district, where the worst atrocities were committed during the genocide and where they need to heal the wounds of the trauma – bigger, maybe, than in other places in Rwanda. 

This gathering is the most extraordinary human experience that I ever lived. Believe me, I am not saying that for getting your applause. I am saying that because that is what I am feeling. In my country such a thing never happened and we kept, for years, the wounds open, the hate to the other for what they did.  

So, I can only encourage you to continue on this way. I can only encourage you to continue to build peace. Starting with the neighbours, starting with the one with whom you share a common history of cruelty and pain. But, nevertheless, it is with them with whom you have to build your future. The future of the young people from this beautiful country.  

And me, I have to ask for forgiveness, because the international community was not able to prevent or avoid this tragedy. We are also guilty. We can be guilty by action or we can be guilty for non-action. For not helping people in danger. And we did not. So, forgive us also. 

And thank you all of you, I wish you will continue showing this courage.  

Link to the video: 

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.