Let’s draw lessons from the past and unite for freedom, justice and peace!

Terrorist attacks in France

Brussels, 14 January 2015

Following the recent violent attacks in France, AGE Platform Europe firmly condemns these atrocities and wishes to express its concern about the future of our common European values of solidarity and democracy, pointing out the need for EU countries to adequately respond to those threats in avoiding further stigmatization and strengthening fundamental rights and equality within the European Union.

Just a few days ago, 2014 ended a year-long of commemorations to mark the start of the First World War and we collectively remembered the atrocities that happened last century and wished that this would never happen again. Yet within a week, 2015 started in horrific chaos with the terrorist attacks in Paris. Strong emotion aroused and sent shockwaves all across Europe and worldwide. Many of AGE Platform Europe members remember similar awful events in not so long history – atrocities which we hoped would never happen again and which united Europeans in the post-war time and helped them overcome respective prejudices, intolerance and hate and, eventually, launch a European integration built on solidarity, tolerance, respect and dialogue.

“We hoped that the terrible experience of past wars would teach us once forever how important are peace instead of war, cooperation instead of conflict, and tolerance instead of the ideological exclusivity for our future. Sadly, nothing can be taken for granted. What happened in Paris happened to all of us, and all of us are called to react, not only the million and the half gathered in Paris but many millions in Europe and in the world. For a long time to come”, said Marjan Sedmak, President of AGE Platform Europe, adding “We must not allow this terrorist attack or others to draw us into the spiral of reciprocal hatred and intolerance. Fundamentalism cannot be stopped with other forms of fundamentalisms.”

“Let’s hope that citizens of all ages, ethnicities, beliefs and cultures, will wake up and remember that humanity can only have a future if we learn to respect and value our differences rather than feel threatened by them”, further stated Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Platform Europe Secretary-General. “We must draw the lessons from the recent events, analyse the complex phenomenon of fundamentalism and radicalization that is threatening our democratic values, and tackle their real causes. We must all unite to say no to all forms of discriminations and violations of our fundamental rights and freedoms, from the most blatant to the most pernicious. The EU can help by adopting swiftly the EU equal treatment directive that seeks to enhance the protection against discrimination outside employment on the ground of age, disability sexual orientation, religion and belief proposed by the European Commission in 2008 and blocked by a few member states since”, concluded Mrs Parent.

A group of Human Rights and Fundamental rights organisations met with Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, to discuss what the European Union should do to better protect human rights and fundamental rights in its internal and external action. In theirjoint statement they call on Vice-President Timmermans to show clear commitment on strengthening the EU fundamental rights and equality framework and ensuring its enforcement. In his reply, Mr. Timmermans shared NGOS views that this is essential to eradicate the real causes of the radicalization and fundamentalism spreading in Europe.

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