“Last year I stood here to assure you that isolationism will never be Europe’s policy. And I haven’t changed my mind even though the last twelve months have been difficult, not least for the European Union. Europe will always stand for a free and open world governed by the rule of law, where nations can trade and grow together, instead of living in conflict, mistrust and intrigue. We treat the values upon which the European Union is founded in all seriousness. And we have the determination to seek those values on the international arena. If we fail, the world will descend into greater disorder, whose first victims are always the weakest and the poorest.
This body is in the process of choosing new leadership. This gives us an opportunity to reflect frankly on the kind of international system we have today, and the one we want for the future. As a historian, I know why the League of Nations failed in its mission to protect peace and international security. It was paralysed by inertia, fatalism and, finally, by cowardice. As a politician, I can see similar phenomena everywhere today. This is due to the rise of fear. Fear of war, fear of terrorism and the fear of strangers. Globalisation makes fear more contagious and more potent. It dangerously links together the anxieties of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, and America. Take one example that can stand for others: the radical Islam of Da’esh that spreads terror from Jakarta to Nice; from Tunis to Brussels, from Sirte to Orlando.
When fear takes over, nations increasingly turn away from each other. What we need to do here and now is to regain a sense of security, which is a fundamental need for every human being, as important as the need for freedom.”