Europe Lecture 'Europe in the World'

On October 25th 2013, former President of South Africa, Frederik W. de Klerk i, delivered a speech at the 12th edition of the 'Europe Lecture'.

The theme of this Lecture was 'Europe in the World'. Does the European Union play an important role in world affairs? How do other countries view upon this role? What is the actual international political significance of Europe? Additionally, professor Karel van Wolferen i gave his view on 'Europe in the World'. Does the European Union fulfill its expectations?

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Bot i was the moderator.


Photo impression

Photos by Martijn van Dam


Report Europe Lecture

On the 25th of October 2013 former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk and professor Karel van Wolferen delivered the 12th Europe Lecture. Both speakers proved critical of the functioning of European Union today, and both noted the EU is a global power in decline. If not in absolute terms, its relative importance at the global stage is dwindling. The speakers diverged on what underlying structural problems are the root causes of this decline. And where De Klerk saw opportunities Van Wolferen remained sceptical, even disillusioned.

It is worth noting, however, that both speakers did acknowledge the achievements of the European Union. The ideal of preventing war has succeeded admirably. Europe proved it has the potential to serve as an example, but now faces the challenge to make good on its promise.


Lecture of F. de Klerk

I wish to speak to you tonight about Africa's perception of Europe. I would also like to discuss Europe's search for greater internal integration on the one hand and its wish to play a more coherent role in the international community on the other.

First I wish to talk about my own relationship with Europe as the descendant of one of the many peoples throughout the world that trace their roots to your continent. My ancestors were Huguenots from France who came to South Africa via Holland in 1688. My language, Afrikaans, has its roots in the Dutch, Flemish and German spoken by the employees of the Dutch East India Company and by the first settlers in the Cape.

It also draws richness from the Malay language that was brought to the Cape by slaves from the East Indies. My religion derives from the Dutch Reformed Testament of Dordt in 1619. My culture, like the cultures of so many peoples throughout the world, is suffused with the unparalleled literature, art and music of Europe.


Lecture of Karel van Wolferen

What does the world think of Europe? It does not much dwell on it, I am afraid.

Our continent is not doing much that makes it an entity about which one should have an opinion at all, except for its undeniable significance as an enormous market. Diplomatically it is virtually invisible; it is not a powerbroker, and it does not offer ideas about good international living that reverberate in other continents.

When Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and I suppose people from Africa and South America think about it at all, they do so as an area they may want to visit because of its sublime concentration of tourist attractions; in that respect there is no place quite like it.


Video impression of the Europe Lecture

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Video impression of the Q&A

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