Drakopoulos, Pan: The Way to Unity
At the same time, I have never closed my eyes to the difficulties of such an undertaking, nor failed to realize the doubtful expediency, for a statesman, of plunging into what might readily be termed such an adventure. But all man’s greatest and wisest acts, I think, contain some element of madness or temerity. So I absolved myself in advance and went on; but I proceeded cautiously. […]
I think that between peoples constituting geographical groups, like the peoples of Europe, there should be some kind of federal bond; it should be possible for them to get into touch at any time, to confer about their interests, to agree on joint resolutions and to establish among themselves a bond of solidarity which will enable them, if need be, to meet any grave emergency that may arise. That is the link I wish to forge”.
The effect of Briand’s speech was to provoke certain reactions which still are very much alive. The German committee, in reply, introduced a memorandum where it was pointed out that: a) political entente was a necessary condition; b) economic cooperation would facilitate political cooperation and, consequently, a “European currency association” was a condition sine qua non as well as the consciousness of a community of interests and permanent destiny. The German press reacted negatively, by contrast with the nowadays’ attitude, while theVossische Zeitung welcomed the idea pointing out that a lasting union of Europe required that a Franco-German entente be first organized. The British rejected the idea with a frigid manner; the British press strongly protested against any idea of European federation. Even the federalists of The Round Table rejected Briand’s plan asking for a federation of the English speaking states. However, G.M. Keynes welcomed the Memorandum in his weekly journal The Nation , and severely criticized The Round Table’s opposition. Edouard Benes, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia, speaking at Prague welcomed the Briand’s Plan: “I do not hesitate to say that, impassioned Czechoslovac patriot that I am, and standing as I do for a concordance of the Slavonic nations, I am fervent advocate of Pan-European rapprochement and collaboration. The only issue for us today, is this, either we work to form a sort of new union between European States and nations, as much from the moral point of view as from the economic and political, and we establish the closest and most permanent collaboration possible, or else we shall always be living in danger of difficulties, conflicts, and perpetual crises, ending in wars and catastrophes in which European culture will be submerged.”