SOUTH AFRICA: Europeans mourn Nelson Mandela
7 December 2013
Agence Europe

Brussels, 06/12/2013 (Agence Europe) – On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 December, leaders of the EU institutions paid unanimous homage to the former South African leader, Nelson Mandela, on the announcement of his death.

“We mourn the death of one of the greatest political figures of our times”, said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Durao Barroso. Mandela represents “the fight against racism, political violence and intolerance. He represents justice, freedom and respect for human rights”, they added. To their mind, there is no better way to honour Mandela's memory than by reaffirming their “collective commitment to uphold the values of true and deep democracy for which Nelson Mandela fought tirelessly”.

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz of Germany, said South Africa had lost a “father” and the world a “hero”. “He has been a fighter, a leader and a source of inspiration for so many people throughout Africa, Europe and the entire world”, he added, going on to point out that the former South African president had, in 1988, received the first European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

The president of the EPP Group at the EP, Joseph Daul of France, hailed Mandela as an “icon of humanity”. “For us all”, he said, “from whatever origin or belief, Nelson Mandela was a model to be followed. He was the incarnation, at the very highest level, of the values of forgiveness, courage and responsibility”. Daul's counterpart from the S&D Group, Hannes Swoboda of Austria, is convinced that the struggle for equality begun by Mandela – known affectionately to his clan as “Madiba” – will go on. “Equality – between black and white, men and women, nationals and foreigners, majority and minority – is the goal he dedicated his life to. Continuing the struggle for equality – also one of the founding principles of the European Union – is the best way we can pay tribute to Nelson Mandela's life”, he said. Having met the former ANC leader on three occasions, the leader of the ALDE Group, Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium, spoke of a man who was “direct in his interaction with people and very simple”. Regarding the action taken by Mandela during the genocide in Burundi, he explained: “Nelson Mandela sent a police force to bring this terrible ethnic conflict under control. At his request, the Belgian government provided the necessary funding, which was taken over by the international community at a later stage”. Speaking on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group, Gabi Zimmer of Germany described the South African politician as a “symbol and an inspiration to everybody throughout the world that he moved through his extraordinary actions”. (MB/transl.jl)

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