Abduction of Europe: then and now

Belgium, Brussels, 1050, European Parliament, Yehudi Menuhin Space
Wednesday, October 19 2016 / 14:00

Eastern Europe was “abducted” by totalitarians for the most part of the last century. The Soviets imposed communist regimes but the ideas of liberty and freedom were alive. The history of Eastern Europe during the Cold War has been punctuated by protests and resistance to these regimes - from the 1953 uprising in East Germany to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and 1968 Prague Spring to Solidarność and independence movements of the Baltic states in the 1980s.

Fifty years after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 we will commemorate the freedom fighters and reflect on the relevance of their cause for Europe today. What inspired the resistance and drove the revolutions? What were the values and the aspirations? What were the similarities and the differences between them? How did they lead to the fall of the Communism and the reunification of Europe?

What remains today in terms of values of these extraordinary movements who changed the world then and should continue to inspire us nowadays? Looking at the turbulence in and around Europe today, is there a real danger that Europe risks being abducted again? Abduction by populism, irredentism, xenophobia, authoritarianism and anti-Westernism? How do we best defend Europe’s values, its societal model and its way of life?