Speech by Ambassador Andrea Matteo Fontana at the Europe Day reception in Abu Dhabi

(Source: EEAS)

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Tonight we celebrate the opportunity to be together again and commemorate Europe Day. Over the last two years, we have navigated our way through the global pandemic. Humanity has undergone incredible challenges to return to a world where we can be together as families, as friends and as colleagues.  On this occasion, I would like to take a moment to reflect on some of the principles that bring us together to celebrate the 9th of May.

The principle of unity, is one of the fundamental cornerstones of the European Union. It is a principle that we celebrate every year on the occasion of Europe Day. The other cornerstone is – of course – peace.  The European Union was born from the devastation of war. It began with the idea of putting the resources needed for war under one supranational entity to ensure peace. Eventually, this idea grew into the Union we see today: A Union of 27 free and diverse countries built on the underlying values of peace and unity. A Union with a commitment to multilateralism, sustainable development, free and fair trade, human rights and democracy. A Union that has shaped our present and is building our future. It is a project that is far from over. Today, a European Union based on peace and unity is more important than ever, as these fundamental values are placed under threat.

On 24 February, Russia brought war back to Europe on a scale that we have not witnessed since 1939. The unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine has led to unspeakable horror and devastation. We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s military aggression and the war crimes committed against Ukraine. We deplore the millions of lives irreparably ripped by this unprovoked and senseless attack. Such use of force has no place in the 21st century, not in Europe, nor in any part of the world.

This invasion is an attack against all the values that we stand for in the European Union: freedom, human rights, prosperity, the rule of law, and the right of sovereign independent states to freely choose their own path. We stand by Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, as part of the European family.

We must not tolerate the politics of violence anywhere in the world. In this context, the EU strongly condemned the Houthi terror attacks in the UAE. We stand by our partners in supporting peace and regional stability. We will always uphold international law in favour of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

European unity grew stronger after the start of the war. This unity is manifest all across Europe. We see it the millions of homes and the schools that have opened their doors to refugees; in the thousands of volunteers reaching out to help at the borders; in the countless signs of hospitality and solidarity.

This type of unity represents a richness that we cannot measure – it represents hope. Hope for peace, hope for the future and hope for the next generations. it is our collective responsibility to create something to be hopeful for. We need to act now, together, to face the challenges that confront us and create a better world for our youth.

And what better place to look to the future than here in the UAE – a young and dynamic country, full of energy and vision for tomorrow.  A country that in only 50 years has become a gateway to the world. A truly global platform for innovation, enterprise and diplomacy. A country with inspiring ambitions in green and sustainable development. A country with more than 200 different nationalities living side by side. Despite the huge challenges imposed by the global pandemic – the UAE has been to Mars; opened the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East; achieved gender parity within the Federal National Council; vaccinated 100% of its population against COVID 19; and hosted more than 24 million visitors at EXPO 2020 Dubai. These are staggering achievements.

We look forward to working together with the UAE to build new initiatives that will shape the future. By creating partnerships in sustainable development to promote a fairer and more resilient world. By cooperating on global peace and security at the UN Security Council, where the UAE sits as a non-permanent observer until next year.  By partnering on the Green Energy transition to achieve climate neutrality, in the framework of the EU Green Deal and next year’s COP28.

In our deeply interconnected world, the path to overcoming the challenges ahead is one we can only walk together. The ramifications of any event are far-reaching, felt in every corner of the world, as the invasion of Ukraine has shown. Together, we must work to sustain our planet.

Today, we hold peace and unity ever closer to our hearts as we strive for partnership, for dialogue, diplomacy and peace. Our motto remains united in diversity. In the words of Jean Monnet – one of the founding fathers of the EU – “we are not federating states, we are uniting people”.

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