Every year, May 9th marks the occasion of Europe Day, a day to celebrate European peace and unity, and commemorates the historic 1950 Shuman Declaration. This declaration paved the way for the creation of the European Union we know today.
Held at the Conrad Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the event was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Shakhbut bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State as guest of honour alongside Ambassadors of EU member states, and other countries together with representatives and key figures from the UAE community.
In his welcoming speech, His Excellency Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to the UAE reflected on the principles of Europe Day:
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. It is a project that is far from over.
Referring to the invasion of Ukraine, HE Ambassador Fontana added:
Today, a European Union based on peace and unity is more important than ever, as these fundamental values are placed under threat. 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.
HE Ambassador Fontana stressed the EU’s forward-looking vision to the future, working with the UAE as partners:
In our deeply interconnected world, the path to overcoming the challenges ahead is one we can only walk together. We look forward to working together with the UAE to build new initiatives that will shape the future. Whether by creating partnerships in sustainable development to promote a fairer and more resilient world, or by cooperating on global peace and security at the UN Security Council, or partnering on the Green Energy transition to achieve climate neutrality, in the framework of the EU Green Deal and next year’s COP28.
Guests enjoyed a remarkable musical programme presented by acclaimed Italian pianist Aldo Dotto, General Manager of the International Music Institute in Abu Dhabi, who also played the national anthems of the UAE and the European Union at the start of the ceremony.
Dotto performed outstanding renditions of classical pieces chosen to reflect the spirit of the occasion and to highlight European unity and interconnectedness. The programme began with Chopin’s Variation of Hexameron, from Vincenzo Bellini’s opera I Puritani, which was followed with a piece by Ukrainian composer Levko Revutzky’s Prelude, reflecting a moment of solidarity with Ukraine, and ended with French composer Claude Debussy’s Isle Joyeuse.
Before the end of the ceremony, His Excellency Sheikh Shakhbut bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of State joined His Excellency the EU Ambassador and Ambassadors of EU members states in cutting the Europe Day celebration cake.