Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria

Speech made to the Assembly

Thursday, 2 October 1969

Distinguished Assembly, Representatives of the citizens of Europe, it is a special privilege for me to address you in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Council of Europe. I thank you for having given the Federal Chancellor of Austria an opportunity to undertake, before this “conscience of Europe”, a search into the European conscience by way of a dialogue between a head of government and the representatives of European citizens.

There are many organisations in existence which are rightly called European, but none seems to me as suitable for this purpose as the one which is the only political organisation providing a common home for the EEC and EFTA countries.

My thanks and my reverence are in particular due to Professor Olivier Reverdin, the President of this Assembly, who has kindly invited me to address you.

If we rest on our achievements, if we restrain the rhythm of our evolution, not only our economic future but also our freedom will be jeopardised.

At the same time I greet in him a citizen coming from a Republic which is a neighbour of our country. As a professor in the true sense of the word, as a confessor of his European convictions, he has set an example for all of us.

I have to thank the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Dr Lujo Toncic; you certainly will not impute to me chauvinistic feelings if in this expression of gratitude there is an undertone of joy at seeing in him a compatriot holding a responsible position in the European scheme. On this occasion allow me to express to Mr Peter Smithers, his predecessor, the gratitude and appreciation of the Austrian Government for the valuable and fruitful work he achieved in the interest of furthering the European idea.

To all of you I convey the greetings of my country, Austria, that age-old country in the heart of our common European fatherland.

Twenty years after the establishment of the Council of Europe it appears appropriate to review what has been achieved so far; to render account of whether we have turned our talents to good profit and to search into our conscience whether we have made use of all resources at our command to put into practice the ideas of the prominent Europeans, Churchill, Schuman, De Gasperi and Adenauer.

If we look at the individual items covered by this review we have every reason to feel satisfied with what has been achieved. Fifty years after the conclusion of the Treaties of St. Germain and Versailles and nearly 25 years after our continent was at its nadir, both intellectually and materially, the countries of the Council of Europe are maintaining relations of friendship among themselves. So-called “sworn enmities” have been superseded by relations of mutual confidence. The economic and, to some extent also, the political rapprochement of the member countries of the Council of Europe has made considerable progress, the prosperity of our citizens has grown and peace has been consolidated. Unfortunately there still exist problems of an ethnic and religious nature which require us to be fully prepared to take responsible action to clear away conflict in our own European house, if we Europeans want to appear credible in expressing our views on conflicts outside our continent.

Yet, Ladies and Gentlemen, we experience now and again a feeling of malaise, when we see how far our continent still is from that degree of unity which alone would enable us to meet the challenges of the 1970s. We must realise that the next decade will be fateful for Europe. We know that these ten years will decide whether our continent will remember its creative forces and give them an organisational pattern or whether Europe will be reduced to a puppet on the international stage.

On 20 July 1969, even those who did not admit this in the past must have become alive to the fact that America, Europe’s daughter, by pooling her resources and organisational abilities and by landing a manned spacecraft on the moon has crossed the threshold to the planetary era. The fact that European spirits have been at the beginnings also of this adventure of mankind may fill us with a melancholy pride, but it cannot make us forget that we have been called up for the last time not to miss our connection to the future.

And indeed, we do have a chance if we create new structures, if we close, in addition to the technological gap, also the managerial gap, if we remember our creative power, if we cease to be divided up in European minimalists and maximalists, in short, if we wake up to the fact that we are Europeans. Sic itur ad astra, so one ascends to the stars, says Virgil in The Aeneid, and the name of the lunar project “Apollo” should be a challenge for us as occidentals to hold our own as equal partners in the competition between the Atlantic and Pacific areas.

We all see, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the process of the continent’s becoming conscious of its role has been set going in Europe. On this occasion, I thank you, parliamentarians of Europe, for your indefatigable support of the cause of Europe, for the warnings and exhortations you have been addressing to the governments and for your unswerving faith in our European idea.

It is also you who have realised from the outset that Europe implies dialogue. For 3.000 years Europe has implied dialogue, for it is precisely here, on this soil, that Celtic, Roman, Latin and Germanic influences have helped, in the course of two thousand years, to create the foundations of civilisation in this central part of Europe. In the last analysis, Europe used to be outward-looking while depending on herself. Probably it is to this outward-looking attitude that she owes her potential dynamic forces which she has again and again shown in the course of history.

It is, in fact, this outward-looking attitude which enables us now to rise above the concept of the national state as being the sublime form of organisation of the human society. It is true, however, that national states are, as before, solid realities. But the experience of the 1960s must be disillusioning. Nobody gained anything, but we all lost something – at least a great deal of valuable time. New nationalisms would be untimely and harmful.

We also know that certain economic branches and industrial associations are still wavering between the realisation of the need of reconversion and modernisation, on the one side, and the habitual take-it-easy way of life and fear of free competition, on the other. But there are signs that new ways are being found at last also in the field of economy.

We realise at the same time that Europe must be more than a large-scale joint stock company and more than a sum of national economies. Such a concept of Europe would mean denying the European spirit. Decisive for Europe are indeed her natural factors in their diversity and with their influence which has developed in the course of history.

When passing in review our common history we arrive at the conclusion that federalism is the appropriate basis for common life of the nations of the West. The free citizen as soon politikon is the political germ-cell of the polis, which is, in its turn, a constituent factor of the federalistic system. This system has at all times brought forth that healthy competition which is a sine qua non for any creative work. It is most suitable to lead to supranational thinking. The battle for the future of Europe, Ladies and Gentlemen, must therefore be fought in the spirit of federalistic co-operation if it is to end by victory.

We all have a feeling that the governments and citizens of our European community of nations have realised the need of the hour. Old organisational patterns and systems of co-operation are being abandoned here and there and new structures are being created to make optimum use of the resources of our continent.

You all, Ladies and Gentlemen, certainly know the gloomy forecasts in the event of Europe’s failure to play her role. Despite all the caution we must observe in looking at forecasts, these prognoses are shocking all the same. Indeed, is it not startling when we see that the international patents statistics showed a ratio of 3:1 in favour of Europe as against America still in 1938 and that the ratio was inverse in 1964? Should we not feel concerned by the prognosis that if this trend were to continue, the USA would possess the research monopoly in the democratic world by the end of this century? But if we consider the dynamic force which our continent is able to produce if only part of its intellectual and economic resources are pooled, then we need not despair, we must only act.

Let us not forget that we possess a raw material which today counts more than the most valuable minerals: we possess intellectual resources which are definitely able to secure the European chance. However, we must cease to present to a critical, though idealistic, younger generation the sad spectacle of narrow-minded considerations and remnants of nationalistic egoism. Realising this state of things, national economies in Europe have, even before an optimum unification of our continent, initiated a process leading to structural changes which give rise to great hope for the future development of an organised Europe.

Allow me, Ladies and Gentleman, to illustrate what I have said by a description of my country’s situation. When in 1965 I had the privilege to address your Assembly, I was able to give a favourable report. The social community of the Austrian people has achieved a remarkable progress since. The structural changes in industry, handicrafts and especially in agriculture have turned to good account. This fact is also emphasised in the OECD report on Austria which is very favourable this time. The Austrian Government has implemented the measures for the modernisation of the country’s economy as envisaged in a plan drawn up by Professor Koren, Austria’s Minister of Finance. The further reorganisation and readjustment of the economy is in full progress. Our national economy is preparing, out of its own strength, for large-scale European integration. Considering that for 1966 to 1970 the average economic growth had been estimated at 4% yearly, while actually an average rate of 4.7 % has been achieved so far, then you will recognise that we have fulfilled our European obligation to the best of our abilities, for the benefit of our nascent overall European community. I may add that this evolution has taken place while an optimum degree of industrial and political peace has been maintained.

We Austrians therefore not only believe that we are best prepared for greater Europe but also reserve the right to co-operate, within the limits of our consistently observed status of permanent neutrality, in the creation of a large-scale European structure. The decisions recently adopted by the European Communities, the envisaged conference of heads of states and governments of EEC countries and the statements which prominent statesmen made in this context are in the interest of Europe as a whole. We all trust that the trends which have recently become noticeable will actually lead in the near future to negotiations also with those countries which do not apply for full membership in the Common Market and which – like Austria – have therefore suggested special arrangements to be agreed with the Community.

In the debate on the expansion of the Community it will certainly turn out useful to examine with respect to countries which, though they do not apply for full membership, want to co-operate in that great European work whether, in the light of the relatively insignificant technical problems to be solved, an early conclusion of such arrangements would appear advisable. In any case, the negotiations with these countries should be carried on in such a way that they can be terminated simultaneously with the negotiations between the Community and the applicants for full membership.

This appears necessary also because the need for co-operation between the countries of the Council of Europe in the fields of economic and monetary policies has strongly grown in recent times.

Ladies and Gentlemen, when discussing the extension of the European Communities, it appears appropriate to think both of the immediate and the remote future, and therefore to envisage a scheme of gradual unification in Europe that will be apt to take account of the various conditions prevailing in individual countries, including those professing the neutrality status.

It can hardly be the business of a neutral state to make proposals to other European countries on the system of a Europe-wide political co-operation. Although there exist a number of interesting and useful projects for such a unification, its possible shape and legal structure are questions left to the future. Yet we may state just now that the Council of Europe is an organisation where the co-ordination of objectives in various fields such as the legal, economic and cultural sectors, social policy and regional planning – to cite only a few of them – can easily be effected.

It seems to me that the opportunities which the Council of Europe offers not only as an organisation of intergovernmental co-operation in various technological fields but also as an instrument for the exchange of opinions, have not been fully utilised up to now. Therefore the Austrian Government will, until and after the extension of the Communities, undertake increased efforts to ensure the utilisation of the Council of Europe’s possibilities.

We should not forget, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Council of Europe is indeed an essential instrument for an active policy of détente. The Work Programme so successfully devised by the former Secretary General constitutes a pattern which, even for those countries which do not adhere to the Council of Europe, points to certain fields outside any political arguments where they may deem co-operation useful and perhaps necessary. The Council of Europe is an institution especially well-suited for dealing with everyday problems of European life. In our days, Europe is confronted with the same concrete problems. These issues of a scientific and technological nature have no limits. The Work Programme I mentioned before might provide a proper basis for the elaboration of approaches that would be useful anywhere on the continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the speech which I made in 1965, I expressed my view that we Austrians could not help considering the European building of the future as an imperfect and unfinished construction if it had only a central façade and a western wing while the eastern wing remained undeveloped. The Austrian Government therefore supports all efforts made by the Council of Europe to promote peace and détente by improving contacts with the Eastern countries of our continent although we have, of course, felt deep concern about the events in the CSSR.

Realising the necessity of a détente in our continent, the Austrian Government has several times welcomed the organisation of a conference on security problems concerning the whole of Europe. To ensure the greatest possible success, such a conference should be carefully prepared and open to all countries interested in it. Moreover, it ought to take place in an atmosphere of mutual confidence.

To create such an atmosphere, it would be very useful if the present scientific, technological and cultural co-operation between the countries of the Council of Europe and European non-member countries could be intensified both on bilateral and all-European levels. On this issue Leonid Brezhnev made a statement on 27 April 1967 at the Karlsbad Conference. This statement gives the following examples of scientific and technological co-operation: construction of as gas pipeline through the whole continent; establishment of an all-European system of colour television and peaceful utilisation of atomic energy; furthermore, joint action on problems of the purification of European inland waters and oceans bordering Europe; pooling of the countries’ efforts to control diseases such as cancer, heart and vascular diseases etc. Although more than two years have passed since that statement, we are satisfied that the scientific and technological cooperation suggested therein would be to the benefit of the whole European continent and remain free from any arrière pensée of possible political effects.

I have used the words “central façade of Europe”, and I want to add that we ought to revalue the term Central Europe. We have become too accustomed to seeing the continent divided into a Western and an Eastern hemisphere as a result of ideological rigidity and have forgotten the notion of Central Europe.

The history of the countries in Central Europe can no more be neglected in the further evolution of our continent than its spiritual and geographical functions. Central Europe must be an area of détente. But its rebirth can be achieved only through a further détente. Neutral Austria, recognised by all powers as a factor of stabilisation in the heart of the continent, is prepared to continue her efforts in the interest of détente and co-operation in Central Europe.

Even though no details on the further evolution of the European Community have been laid down, the member countries of the Council of Europe should indefatigably work to create the basic conditions of the objectives, institutions and methods of further European unification. We might start just now to clarify the powers of future inter-European institutions and strengthen the basis of joint action. Efforts made by the Council of Europe to promote a common structural policy and regional planning in Europe are examples of such possibilities. The remarkable list of the Council of Europe’s conventions in the above-mentioned fields shows what a great deal of work has already been achieved.

We all agree that European integration would remain patchwork unless a joint policy is developed in the fields of research and technology and all energies are enlisted for this purpose. Apart from the above-mentioned possibilities for the whole of Europe, participation of the Atlantic and Pacific areas, made possible by OECD, may bring about a closer co-operation between the Council of Europe and OECD in the scientific and technological sectors. Such economic strengthening of the northern hemisphere, followed by increased and specific development aid projects, would also benefit the southern part of the globe.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we would be European chauvinists if, in the face of all the problems we are concerned with we were to forget the problems of the entire family of nations.

Austria has therefore at all times advocated the view that the Council of Europe should not isolate itself from the others but should be open to the rest of the world. The fact that a great number of non-Europeans have taken the floor here, shows that you are filled with a truly European spirit. Austria also suggests the intensification of the relations between the Secretariats of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, and also with the specialised organisations of the United Nations. In this way, the Council of Europe would even more conspicuously demonstrate its role as a solid regional institution within the family of nations.

In our time, we should ever again pose ourselves the question whether we are doing well enough to stand up to the challenge of tomorrow. In this connection, the best possible education of our young people should be allotted first priority. It is indeed comprehensible, at least, that there is unrest in part of the European youth. This unrest is also caused by the concern whether our scientific institutions and the technological, economic and organisational structures as a whole will actually be able to give the young all those qualifications they need to secure their future in the coming fateful decade.

As a reform of the universities is now under way in all countries, I think it would be timely to give such reform a feature which is part of the best tradition of European universities, i.e. their international character. In my view, the creation of a European university is less important than the achievement of European standards at our universities through the necessary adjustment of study programmes and the mutual recognition of certificates. In this respect the Council of Europe has set an example by its work; the European conventions on the equivalence of school-leaving exams and terms of study at universities, together with the European convention on the equivalence of academic degrees and university certificates are eloquent testimonies to these activities.

At the same time as co-operation in scientific, technological and cultural sectors is promoted, our young people must be educated in a new European spirit. Only by deeds and by our example shall we be able to convince our young scientists, engineers and technicians that it is worthwhile to devote all their energies to building a new order in Europe. Only if the responsible statesmen and deputies take action shall we be able to kindle again the flame of idealism for this new order in our young people. This implies also the closest possible contacts between the young generations in Europe. The Council of Europe’s decision to have a Youth Centre erected at its headquarters where the leaders of the European youth shall be trained in this new spirit, has stimulated us to submit to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, the following project for discussion: Austria as a neutral country in Central Europe, situated on the dividing line between two ideological blocs, offers to establish in Austria an international youth academy for the youth organisations of all European countries, East and West. Young people from the East and the West shall be given there an opportunity to discuss common problems and essential problems of our continent in the European spirit of fraternity and to elaborate the basic foundations of their future. We Europeans of today could not possibly find a better way of honouring the memory of one of the most prominent Europeans, the Prince Eugène of Savoie, than by offering to house that academy in a building on the outskirts of Vienna which was formerly built for that great man from Savoie.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the age of computers we cannot pass by the question of the existence of increased information. Reasonable action in our time is not feasible without the possibility to produce quickly the data required for decision-making. We should therefore consider the establishment of data banks in our countries and, finally, set up a European data bank that would be open to all governments, scientists and research workers. In Austria, we are at present building a new Central Office of Statistics to comply with this necessity of our time. I feel sure that the creation of a European data bank would be a decisive step toward the shaping of new structures required to cope with the 1970s. Our best will and our boldest concepts would produce only half the effect if we lagged behind in the technique of information. I therefore suggest that a proper initiative of this kind be developed within the Council of Europe.

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, this brings me back to the principles of the Council of Europe. Any planning for the future, any extension of the European Community and, in short, any kind of co-operation should be based on democracy, constitutionality and the human rights. The law is king of all. Starting out from this truth, the Council of Europe will be faced with the lofty target of protecting the position of man in the technological era from the inhuman interventions of computer tyranny. We have arrived at the cross-roads of the century for the individual and his liberty. Either the individual will lose his freedom of decision under the domination of computers or he will participate in progress while safeguarding his liberty. Thanks to a centuries-old respect for the individual, Europe should be able to cope with the development of new structures while protecting human freedom. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, appears to me one of the noblest and most pressing responsibilities of the Council of Europe in the future. That the Council of Europe has recognised the needs of our time is borne out by its recommendation on human rights and scientific and technological achievements and in particular its recommendation concerning the use of computers in connection with the protection of privacy.

We have now taken a look at our future in the European continent. He who looks at the past, who spends his last energy to keep the remains of past things still alive, will most certainly miss the future. If we rest on our achievements, if we restrain the rhythm of our evolution, not only our economic future but also our freedom will be jeopardised. We are called upon to create a new order where the human being as a mature citizen may decide his own destiny. All the actions taken by any of us are charged with the responsibility to master the challenge of the future. To this end we must rely on the young generation, that is, not only on the young in age but also on the young in attitude. If there is a great European sore which all of us have caused in some way or other, it is this: for various reasons we have not done enough in our countries to engage our young people, the young generation in Europe, at an early moment in the joint responsibility for the present time as well as for the near and the more distant future. Understanding and clear recognition will not suffice for this purpose. We certainly must bridge the gap between the generations. The link of understanding between the generations is the bridge to the future for our European community. If she is continuously regenerated by her young people, Europe can build up her future on a purposive will, on courage instead of faint-heartedness and on energy rather than on indolence. We are called upon to create an order of peace. We are called upon to stand up for our ideals. These new European ideals should help us to reach our goal. Let us go to work, let us set to, let us fill in the ditches. Let us build bridges between countries and generations and help to realise the eternal ideal of Europe in the coming fateful decade with the help of young hands and hearts, in full consciousness of our mission to safeguard Western civilisation.


THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Chancellor, I thank you very much for your speech. You have put forward proposals and underlined certain aspects for our future work. The appropriate committees will of course consider them. Are you prepared to answer some questions?

Mr Klaus, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

Yes, Mr President.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Klaus has kindly consented to answer any questions you care to put to him. I call Mr Capelle.

Mr CAPELLE (France) (translation)

As a member of the Committee on Education and Culture, I want to tell Mr Klaus how sweetly his words fell on our ears after all the work the committee has done and all the speeches we have recently heard in this hall.

We are delighted to see how much importance to attaches to youth problems, to the urgent need of finding new ways and means of fitting the young into present-day society.

As a university man, I want to thank him particularly for having stressed the importance of developing our universities where, for far too long and in spite of the traditions of the Middle Ages, nationalism has been the rule. We thank him for having reminded us of the need to return to our beginnings which, for all our universities, should mean the realisation of their European vocation.

The Chancellor has given us hope and courage for the future, in spite of momentary difficulties, showing us the need for a scholar’s Europe, an academic Europe, a Europe of youth, transcending the boundaries of the countries we represent here. We know, through many personal contacts, that his appeal will be heard in a part of Europe to which we are closely linked by history, but where, today, conditions do not permit the fundamental freedoms to find expression.

On behalf of our committee, I thank the Chancellor once again. (Applause)

Mr BRÜCK (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

Mr Chancellor, I welcome your suggestion to establish in Vienna a youth exchange Centre where young people from East and West can meet. You say that a house has already been made available and I would be very grateful if you could tell us who is to sponsor the Centre and on what lines it is to be organised for I find your proposal very interesting.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Does anyone else wish to speak? I call the Chancellor.

Mr Klaus, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

Mr President, distinguished Assembly, I am very happy to see that Mr Capelle is attributing to this appeal to the young generation as much interest as it deserves now and in view of the future of Europe.

May I just answer Mr Brück’s second question and inform you that, in my opinion and according to some preliminary talks, European youth organisations, with the support of their countries but guided by their own initiative, should help to create and organise this youth academy. I feel that the spirit of co-operation and understanding, of stability and peace that prevails in Austria, on the borderline between East and West, may create the right atmosphere to help the young ones take over the responsibility for themselves and their future.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you very much, Mr Klaus.