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Rewriting history

Posted by Helen Saturday, September 10, 2005

Goodness MEPs are tiresome. Comes from not having enough to do, I expect. The European Parliament has backed an idea proposed by Michael Cramer, a German Green MEP of creating a bicycle tourist trail along what he fondly imagines was the Iron Curtain.

As the BBC correspondent points out, the Parliament may agree and the Commission may support the the suggestion but it is up to the Transport Ministers to make the final decision and that may not happen for a while, despite the Greens (few of them supported their Communist brethren back in the bad old days) being all in favour. There is also the question of money, though Mr Cramer thinks that the entire bicycle trail would cost less than 1km of road tunnel. Not sure what he bases his calculations on.

It is really Mr Cramer’s arguments that are so interesting, repeated as they are without any commentary by the dear old BBC. The bicycle trail is for people to remember history, he maintains.

“Only those who can remember and who know the past will master the future. And for decades, this continent was divided. Now we can have a ride in the history,culture and politics of Europe and we'll master the future.”
For somebody who wants to remember history, Mr Cramer’s grasp does not seem too sure. Europe has always been divided into states of varying size and importance. The few attempts to unite it were not very long and usually rather unpleasant.

The whole argument is rather weird. On the one hand, Mr Cramer was inspired by the Freedom Trail in Boston that commemorates the American War of Independence (well, some of it, anyway). On the other hand, there is the fact that some of the former Communist countries have commemorating parks around the old borders and, indeed, inside the countries. In particular there is an almost complete bicycle route along the old Berlin Wall.

Then again, according to the BBC, the plan is to extend that route:
“… from the Finnish-Russian border, through the Baltic states of Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania, then via Poland and central Europe to Slovenia.

Ultimately it would also extend through Bulgaria and Romania on the Black Sea.”
How do they mean “through”? The border did not run through these countries.

And what of the countries that are on the other side of the new curtain, whatever material it might be made out of: Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Russia herself? Presumably, they are not part of Europe. It is all very confusing.

One thing seems to be clear: the European Parliament with the support of the BBC wants to celebrate the “reunification” of Europe. Perhaps, they would like to tell us the last time Europe was “united”.

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