Young British and German high-flyers discuss the future of Europe at British-German Forum
15 July, 2013
Gary Wilton, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the EU and Canon of the Pro-Cathedral of Holy Trinity writes:
The 28th British German Forum discusses the changing dynamics of British and German engagement in Europe. Participants explore to what extent British and German citizens might view the European ‘project’ differently and how they foresee its future.
The future of Europe: relevance and effectiveness in the 21st century?
Sunday 14 – Thursday 18 July 2013 (WP1231)
Imagine it. Imagine twenty five high-flying young Brits spending a week with twenty five high-flying young Germans – with a hot topic to discuss. That’s what Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl did. So in 1986 they created Wilton Park’s annual British-German Forum. Its purpose was to build strong relationships between successive generations of British and German leaders. During the last 40 years over 1000 people have attended the Forum. Many of them are now senior politicians, diplomats, journalists and leaders in their field.
This year’s hot topic is the ‘Future of Europe: relevance and effectiveness in the 21st century?’ The conversations may change minds. They will certainly expose participants to different views. Most importantly members of the Forum will leave here with new understandings and new friendships. Understandings and friendships that will help to make Europe and the world safer and more peaceful.
In the second decade of the third millennium the world is no less broken or fragmented. There are fracture lines between nations right across the globe. This includes Europe, despite the success of the EU in being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. So it’s not surprising that the new Pope and the new Archbishop of Canterbury have both made peace and reconciliation a key priority. Just watch their international visits!
Sitting in our library is a remarkable edition of ‘War Poems’ by the British first world war poet Wilfred Owen. It was a gift from an inspired Forum alumni. The book is noteworthy because it is written in both German and English;
‘This book is not about heroes…. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn’.
The British German Forum is a response to such a warning. It is a unique institution. It is a model for intentional and long term relationship building between post-conflict generations. Generations which need to keep building and rebuilding peace.
Imagine it! Where else in the world does peace need to be built and rebuilt by the emerging generations? Where could this annual Forum be replicated in the next ten years? North and South Korea? Israel and Iran? China and Taiwan? Russia and USA? Imagine!