PanEuropa – The parent idea of a united Europe
The history of the PanEuropa Union is closely associated with the names of two prominent personalities: its founder Richard Graf Coudenhove Kalergi (1894-1972) and his successor as International President (until 2004), Dr. Otto von Habsburg (born 1912).
Coudenhove-Kalergi was the son of the Austrian diplomat Heinrich Graf Coudenhove-Kalergi and his Japanese mother, Mitsuko Aoyama. He grew up to be multilingual and was educated multiculturaly in his parents’ castle in the small Czech town of Pob?zovice (Ronsperg). His homeland is Europe.
Coudenhove first formulated the vision of a politically, economically and militarily united Europe in the article “Pan-Europa – a proposal” on 15 November 1922 in the “Vossische Zeitung“ Berlin, and this appeared two days later in the Vienna-based “Neue Freie Presse”. In 1923, he wrote his programmatic book “Pan-Europa”, which he described as the starting signal for a “great political movement”. Coudenhove envisaged the inter-war period of Europe as having an alternative “integration or collapse.” Even in 1923, he vehemently warned against the “future war” and of the danger that Europe, after the war, would be “divided” by an artificial border “into a Soviet colony and an American protectorate”.
In 1926, the first PanEuropa Congress took place in Vienna with 2000 participants from 24 nations as the public breakthrough for the young movement with the “PanEuropean vision” becoming a synonym for the political unification of Europe. Coudenhove was elected the first International President of the PanEuropean Union by acclamation. Europe’s most respected statesman, the French foreign minister Aristide Briand, became honorary president of the movement in 1927. On 5 September 1929, in a speech before the League of Nations in Geneva, Briand proposed, the creation of a federation of European nations at the insistence of Coudenhove-Kalergis.
Briand`s initiative fails, especially in terms of the coming wave of communism and fascism. Coudenhove is forced to go defensively rejecting both ideologies as incompatible with the ideas and objectives of PanEuropa.
On 27 July 1972, Coudenhove-Kalergi died in Vorarlberg. On a proposal by the French President, George Pompidou in 1973, Otto von Habsburg was elected as the International President of the PanEuropa Union and new aims were set for the movement: The idea of liberating Central and Eastern Europe from communist oppression. Concluded in May 1973, the Strasbourg Declaration of Basic Principles formulated the aims of the Pan-Europa Union which held sway for almost two decades until the victory of freedom in Central Europe. Here too, Otto von Habsburg, steered the PanEuropa Union as a pan-european far reaching movement. Besides the French, Belgian and Luxembourg sections play the PanEuropa Unions in Austria and Germany played an increasingly important role at the interface represented by the Iron Curtain. After 1975, numerous PanEuropa youth organizations were created in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy and Belgium under the direction of Walburga von Habsburg and the later MEP, Bernd Posselt.
The PanEuropa Union used the first direct elections to the European Parliament to start an international campaign for a strong Europe which was to be Christian-oriented and politically / militarily united. It also actively set about supporting the rapid accession of the liberated countries of Central and Eastern Europe to the European Union, which in a first phase, became reality on 1 May 2004, with the accession of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia.
The PanEuropa Union also actively supported the accession of Romania, Bulgaria, on 1 January 2007 to the European Union as well as for the speedy accession of Croatia and Macedonia.
Ivan Shishmanov read the article of Rihard Nicolaus-Coudenhove-Kalergi “PanEuropa – A Proposal” and was captivated by this idea. When Mr. Shishmanov returned to Bulgaria, he participated actively in the struggle for peace and in October 1926 became one of the first Europeans that laid the foundations of a United Europe. Together with Paul Destre, Vaclav Shuster, Paul Loeb, Edwars Erio, Georg Lukacs, and last but not least Coudenhove-Kalergi, Shishmanov took part in the Presidium of the Congress. He was the head of Department of Culture and Minority and had to present reports to the plenary session. He also prepared basic documents of the new Vienna Congress and proposed to establish a Paneuropean University in Geneva in which he can teach eminent scientists from all over Europe.
After a speech, first in Bulgarian, then in French and German, Ivan Shihmanov wrote in his diary: “For the first time during an international congress Bulgarian language was heard.“ Today Bulgarian language is formally equal to the other main languages in the European Union.
On March 13, 1927 in Sofia was held the Constituent Assembly of Bulgarian section of the Paneuropean Union, whose chairman becomes Ivan Shishmanov. Among the participants are the names of the most prominent Bulgarian intellectuals, politicians and public figures. The adopted constitution stands as main goal of the association to disseminate within Bulgarian people the ideas of Paneuropean Union for cohesion and cooperation between all European nations of political, economic and cultural soil.
Today, members of the Pan-Europa Union are people from all age groups and social strata who are committed to a politically, economically and militarily united Europe as a community of law, peace of freedom and Christian values. The Pan-Europa Union suppoers the political integration of Europe in the areas of internal and external security, technology and research as well as a comprehensive European constitutional treaty for the European Union. It is committed to a independent European defence policy, in partnership with NATO. In light of continuous globalization, the Pan-Europa Union supports both collaborative and independent action of the European Union within the field of international politics.
Under the many years of leadership by the German vice president of the Parliament, Dr. Ingo Friedrich, the Pan-Europa Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament, consists of over 120 members from nearly all of the EU Member States and meets regularly during the sessions of the Parliament in Strasbourg.