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On Europe Day, we celebrate the European Union. Many consider the EU solely as a 500 million people market and an economic and trade power. Yet, the EU is above all the most successful peace project in the world. For this reason I believe it is particularly relevant to share this with all Yemenis today.
After centuries of recurring and devastating wars, European countries learnt the hard way that conflicts needed to be settled around a table rather than on a battlefield, and that friendly relations among neighbours brought shared prosperity. Yet, as the founding fathers of the EU knew, Europe was not to be built all at once, or according to a single plan, but through small steps and concrete achievements, aimed at creating trust among peoples and enhancing solidarity.
Today, the European Union is 'United in Diversity': embracing the differences between the citizens of its member States, and united around common values and beliefs: democratic and accountable governments, Human Rights, multilateralism, peace, free and fair trade, liberty and solidarity.
Yet, like in 1950, the European Union faces once again vital challenges, both from the inside and outside. Notwithstanding such difficulties it is enduring and continuing on its ambitious path of unremitting dialogue and understanding – and it is increasingly recognized and appreciated throughout the world for these qualities and values. As a result, as the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini stated, "in today's world, the European Union is more indispensable than ever. This year more than ever, Europe day is not just a celebration, but a commitment." It is above all a commitment to peace, not only in Europe but in the world.
With such values and guiding principles, and because of this commitment, the EU staunchly continues to work to address the humanitarian crisis of the Yemeni population. As Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the EU is committed to make its voice heard when civilians suffer and Human Rights violations are perpetrated. When Yemen is mentioned, people think of the suffering of the people, of famine, disease and destruction in an intractable war. All of this is happening and needs to stop. Yet, like the European Union, Yemen is much more than that: the warmth of Yemeni people, their resilience, their traditional mediation and reconciliation mechanisms, and the immense cultural wealth of this country. While prospects for a quick end of the conflict may seem dire today, Europe's history has shown how through small steps, even 'enemies' can build a common future.
The European Union will continue doing everything it can to help Yemenis along this perilous, long and painful process which will eventually result in peace and reconciliation, because all wars in history have eventually come to an end. Its humanitarian and development aid as well as its constant political backing encouraging all parties to engage in negotiations in good faith will not cease. All stakeholders should step up to their responsibilities and take the opportunity of the renewed UNSE efforts to display statesmanship and commitment to the peace process. Peace cannot wait any longer. The Yemeni people are asking for it.