21-23 MAY 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends,

I am delighted to address you here today at Rhodes at the Campaign Management Meeting of the EPP. For me, it is a particular pleasure to welcome you to this beautiful island, which is my hometown and for which I have strong personal feelings. This year we celebrate 30 years since the creation of the European People’s Party, the pan-european family that unites the largest political forces of our continent. The EPP was the first political entity ever created at a European level and today is the biggest pan-european party including more than 70 parties from 36 European countries and being the largest group in the European parliament. Throughout its long history, the EPP has managed to demonstrate itself as a driving force for European unification, playing a central role at every stage. During this period, while other political families have been hesitant, the forces of the EPP have systematically pushed forward their vision of a federal Europe. Dear friends, It would not be an exaggeration to say that the EPP represents the spirit of the European Union itself. It is a political forum where national parties, notwithstanding their differences, work together in promoting the goal of European integration. What differentiates EPP from the other pan-European parties is its capacity, demonstrated during its 30 years of existence, to outline initiatives and propose solutions, while at all times acting with the same collaborative spirit and solution-finding skills that has helped the EU to move consistently forward. Not only the heavy inheritance left by the founders of the European Union -from Schumann, Monet, Adenaouer, de Gasperi, to Kostantinos Karamanlis and Khol- who belong to the same political family, proves the dynamism of the EPP positions. It is also the evolution itself of the European integration. The EPP expresses the essential political avant-garde attitude necessary for Europe’s unification, its institutional and social development. The EPP has been at the forefront of attempts to reunite Europe since the end of the Cold War, and today, once more is at the driving seat to undertake every effort in order for Europe to effectively face up to the new challenges. Dear friends, The EPP formulates with clarity its position and the need for the deepening of the integrating process. It opens the road for the transfer of the European ideals to all parts of Europe with its presence in central and eastern Europe, the Balkans and further beyond such as in the Caucasus. The results in the recent elections in Ukraine have highlighted the need to have a coordinated effort of EPP parties to help our sister parties in transition countries to win elections and to sustain their position. In this context, the campaign-managers Committee of the EPP should have a cooperative coordinating role in democracy building efforts in transition countries. Dear friends, Nea Democratia, is committed to our common goals. For us, the EPP has a critical role to play in every aspect at the European political process. Nea Demokratia has extensive experience in campaign management. Proof of this is the successful formula for the last two election victories in the March 2004 national elections and the June 2004 European elections. Furthermore, ND has transferred its knowledge and experience through a series of seminars and training programs in many Balkan countries within the framework of the Western Balkan Democracy Initiative (WBDI) under the leadership of Kostas Karamanlis. Consistent to the EPP policies, Nea Demokratia has played a pivotal role in the recent EU enlargement; we have strongly supported the accession of the 10 new member-states in 2004. This year in Greece, we celebrate our 25th anniversary as members of the EU. It was the strategic vision of Konstantinos Karmanlis’, the founder of ND, that led Greece to stability, democratization, prosperity and security. We are witnesses and live proof that structural transformation through the European values and norms is historically, politically, socially and economically justified. With respect to the Balkans, “the show must go on”. The European perspective of the countries of the region is the key to peace, stability and prosperity in this troubled part of our continent. Balkan citizens identify the EU with security, employment, increased living standards, the rule of law, accountable and democratic, public institutions, protection of minorities. They recognize the EU as probably the most successful conflict prevention and resolution mechanism in history. And, they want to be part of it. This is why the Heads of State and Government of the South-East European Cooperation Process, under Greece’s presidency, declared their aspiration that the European Union remain focused on this region and on the European perspective of its countries. Greece steadfastly supports the European perspective of the countries of our region provided of course that they endorse the European principles and values and that they fully implement all criteria and requirements set by the EU. To this end, as we try to envision the Europeanized economies of our neighbors, we can comprehend that such a development will transform the local Greek regions from hopeless borderline frontiers into strong parts of an entire European entity. And this major change has obvious advantages for the EU, S.E. Europe and Greece. Hence, the Greek local regions become integral connecting points between neighbors to the North and neighbors to the East. Dear friends, The setbacks we have been experiencing after the negative referenda on the Constitutional Treaty, over the Iraq war, the debate over the 2007 – 2013 EU budget should not lead us to forget the contribution of the Union to democracy, peace, justice and freedom in Europe and its neighbourhood. Our main aim, as a family dedicated to Europe, is to strongly support and promote our values on every corner of the European continent, especially in our Balkan neighbourhood. We should stand ready to contribute in a concrete way to the European Union back on the path to deeper integration. The EU is getting more and more deeply involved at every level: Politically, Economically and Financially. Furthermore, one of the most important aspects of the EU’s involvement in the Balkans neighbor is the internal institutions enforcement capacity. We are working across the board to build strong institutions so that the Balkans countries can manage their own affairs, uphold the rights of their citizens, and tackle organized crime. Our objective is to transform this part of our Europe, to equip it to sustain liberal democracy and the rule of law, rooted in strong institutions, supported thriving market economies trading with each other and with the wider Europe. They need – we need stable European democracies, at peace with each other and at peace with themselves, either members of the EU or well on the road to membership. We should encourage, even demand regional cooperation and the full implementation of all criteria and requirements set by the European Union. This is not an abstract vision – it is a task that we should forcefully pursue. Today, however we look even further. We launch in the most solemn way the pan-European debate on the Future of Europe. We do so, in order to transform any lingering doubts about the impending changes into fertile reflection and positive action. The questions are common: What sort of Europe do we want? What is our vision for Europe? What is our own duty, in the struggle to turn the vision into reality? What should our contribution be? To answer these strategic questions, one must possess acute political instinct and ample political courage. These are exactly the attributes shown by the restorers of the European Union. Their political vision was translated into concrete strategy. A strategy that served three major political objectives. First, to give European citizens the opportunity to taste the fruits of unprecedented prosperity. Second, to place every European country firmly within an environment of peace and security. Without peace, development is of little value. Third, to make a significant contribution to the construction of the broader European edifice, to help create a family of European Nations. A willingness to offer – to offer ideas, for the sustainable development of our societies. The challenges emerging from globalization require a targeted response. Our common aim is to make Europe the world’s most dynamic and competitive economy. In this process, growth, productivity and competitiveness must go hand in hand with the creation of new jobs and career opportunities, social cohesion and inclusion, improved living standards for all citizens and environmental protection guarantees. Such a Europe will be relevant to the needs and worries of our citizens. It will concern them directly and it will stimulate them to be active and involved in the European project. Transparency and opportunities for every individual to take part in the process of formulation and implementation of our political agenda is a top priority, so that they don’t feel alienated from our European vision. We, the members of European Peoples Party play an active role in the fulfillment of these objectives. And this is a non stop process. That is why we need to broaden public participation. We need to generate more ideas, to intensify our efforts, to work harder for more Prosperity – more Security – more Participation. Our Europe should be constructed by all its citizens – and for all of them. Thank you.