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|Bartholomew of Constantinople|
Address to the Conference on peace and tolerance
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Integration must be our watchword -- in Eastern Europe as in Western Europe. Today, we must follow the Helsinki accord principle of the inviolability of borders. But tomorrow, our vision not only for Eastern Europeans -- not only for all Europeans -- but for all people -- is of a world without borders.
There is no good reason why people and goods should not be able one day to move freely between Bitolja and Bucharest, between Trikala and Tirana, between Sofia and St. Petersburg, between Alma-Ata and Ankara. And there is no reason to continue the hatreds that have made Eastern Europe, and especially the Balkans, the world's caricature for ethnic conflict.
It was not always that way. Let us remember that less than two centuries ago, there were Greek businessmen in Odessa and Bucharest, and Albanian enterprises in Egypt. Serbian merchants conducted a lively trade with their Habsburg counterparts. Thessaloniki had a thriving Jewish community. And so on.
We must put behind us the divisions and feuds brought about by excessive nationalism. We were once united by the great empires -- but the peace that comes at the tip of a sword is no longer acceptable. As St. Paul exhorts: "If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Rom. 12:18). The modern way to bring about unity and peace is to extend the European Union -- to open our borders to one another, and let people, capital, ideas, and products flow.
Much has already been achieved in the political world -- the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the Partnership for Peace proposed by American President Bill Clinton. But politicians alone cannot heal the rifts brought about by extreme nationalism. Religious leaders have a central and inspirational role to play -- it is we who must help bring the spiritual principles of ecumenicism, brotherhood, and tolerance to the fore.
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