Icons of Europe This fleur-de-lys represents the aims of Icons of Europe asbl.  The fleur-de-lys figure has been used as an ornament or emblem by almost all civilisations of the old and new worlds.
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Given the focus of Icons of Europe, we comment from time to time in the media and elsewhere on issues relating to the new Europe and to transatlantic relations.

"Europe will not be built by trade alone ... people inspired by the cultural diversity of Europe will do that" - Icons of Europe.
Note:  Our contributions below to the International Herald Tribune (IHT) are
signed 'Jens A. Jorgensen, Brussels'.

for the media

Articles on Chopin

More on the need for an EU foreign policy
"Georgia and NATO"
The need for a global EU foreign policy
Our letter to Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France, 25 February 2008:
"... The EU presidency chaired by France will provide a unique opportunity to promote the development of a global EU foreign policy.  However, steps could be taken already today."

Reply by the Présidence de la République to Icons of Europe, 7 March 2008

Subsequently, M. Sarkozy said at the Conseil des ministres on 19 March 2008:
"Je veux parler enfin de la Présidence française de l'Union européenne
le 1er juillet. ... Nous devons remettre de la politique en Europe".
(At the end of the whole
statement) | Présidence de la République

Our letter to IHT, published on 18 September 2007:
"Cooperating with Russia"

Harry C. Blayney III emphasizes the importance of taking a comprehensive and long-term approach to strengthening cooperation between Russia and the West in many areas including energy, trade, technology and health (Letters: "Facing the Russia problem," Sept. 14).  However, he could have mentioned an area that continues to provide a foundation for mutual understanding and cross-border dialogue and initiatives:  Russia's great culture!

"The EU:  remarkable accomplishments"
  • IHT article "A Europe 'gone far too far' to unravel" (by Richard Bernstein, 7 June 2005):  ... The plain fact is that there are numerous reasons to declare the EU a historic success. 
  • Our letter to the IHT editor (sent 7 June):  Amid the current flack about the EU constitution, much credit is due to Richard Bernstein, who takes a constructive approach to the European project by declaring “the EU a historic success”.  He cites among “remarkable accomplishments”: peaceful management of diversity, war as unthinkable, agreement on human rights and common security policies, the introduction of the euro, the EU’s appeal to the Swiss, and the emergence of a European soul.

    An appreciation of this solid progress will hopefully give EU leaders the confidence to handle the current institutional crisis.  However, will approaches other than black-and-white referenda be used to consult voters on the future direction of the EU?  How will the views of leaders of industry and civil society be solicited?   What inputs could the European Parliament and the Council of Europe provide? 

"The European constitution represents the symbolic refounding of the European Union .... It is thus a sad paradox that it was rejected by democratic verdicts in France and the Netherlands.

But despite that reality, the EU has long been viewed as a project of the political elite, and we political leaders have been unable to convey to our constituents the advantages they derive from EU citizenship."

Margot Wallstrom
(the European Union's communications commissioner and a vice president of the European Commission)
IHT, 21 June 2005

"Fallout from the French vote"
  • IHT article "After French 'no' vote, all bets are off on EU" (by John Vinocur, 31 May 2005):  In the end, democracy came and mocked the European mystique, its notions of ever-greater union, a European Us, its self-portrayal as the Righteous Power, its exalted but hollow pretensions to project to the world a will and a strength that is not yet and may never be its own ... .
  • Our letter to the IHT editor (published on 3 June):
    John Vinocur missed an important opportunity to acknowledge the enormous progress made in constructing today's Europe and to suggest meaningful options for moving ahead ("After French 'no' vote, all bets are off on EU," Politicus, May 31). Vinocur misses the point by seeing a need for "a deep re-examination of the EU's ambitions, largely put forward by elites."

    Europe's elites have so far been out of touch with their constituencies but there is no need to lower or change the EU's ambitions. Instead, leaders must do a better job of sharing existing ambitions and their implications with all voters.



The web site of the European Convention (drafting the constitution) is still online and says:  "The European Convention completed its work on 10 July 2003."

It refers to the Futurum site that does not appear to have been updated since 2 October 2004.

Well, the work is not yet completed ... !

"Trans-Atlantic bridges"
  • IHT article "It's time to renew the trans-Atlantic partnership" (14 April 2005), referring to the European Union and the United States and concluding:   "... A renewed trans-Atlantic agenda should include specific actions to encourage civil society - including business executives, scientists, journalists, academic institutions and students - to cooperate.  Let's get to work."
  • Our letter to the IHT editor (sent 15 April):
    Enshrined at the Madrid Summit in 1995, the opportunity to strengthen the European Union’s relationship with the United States at many levels is well articulated by Spain’s minister of foreign affairs (“It’s time to renew the trans-Atlantic partnership”, April 14).  However, to “build bridges across the Atlantic” and “encourage civil society to cooperate” (or rather participate), should the EU-Canada relationship not also be promoted at the same time?

    According to the EU, the EC’s oldest formal relationship with any industrialized country was signed with Canada in 1976 and updated as the EU-Canada Partnership Agenda in 2004.  The strategic importance of this agenda is emphasized not only by historical and economic ties, but also by common political values concerning the role of the United Nations, global security and terrorism, human rights, and other mega issues.


EU - United States:
Transatlantic Agenda

EU - Canada:
- Overview by the EU
- Overview by Canada
- Partnership Agenda
- Great culture
- Toronto initiative on TB

The EU-Canada Partnership Agenda refers to public health issues in section A.

"Ukraine's allies"
  • IHT article "Yushchenko presses Congress for aid" (7 April 2005): "... Bush, when he met with Yushchenko on Monday, promised to support Ukrainian efforts to join the World Trade Organization, NATO and the European Union" (ref. also "Ukrainian an 'inspiration' for Bush", 5 April).
  • Our letter to the IHT editor (first section published on 14 April):  UKRAINE'S ALLIES
    It is understandable that president Victor Yushchenko looks to the United States for political support of his goal of Ukraine joining the World Trade Organization and NATO. Rather than also seeking U.S. support for its overture to the European Union, Ukraine may build a better case by continuing to engage Europe and Russia.

    The rich history and cultural heritage of Ukraine, shared with Russia, Europe and North America, provide an additional important argument.

    Icons of music have strong roots in Ukraine. For example, Tchaikovsky’s father was a Ukrainian mining engineer; and Prokofiev was born in Sontsovka (now Krasnoye, Ukraine), Horowitz in Kiev, and Oistrakh in Odessa. Similar backgrounds apply to Icons of science and economics including Nobel Prize winners Selman Abraham Waksman (Physiology or Medicine 1952); Simon Kuznets (Economics 1971); Milton Friedman (Economics 1976); and Herbert C. Brown (Chemistry 1979).

    Ukraine has today the opportunity to celebrate this heritage with many other countries, and to draw inspiration from the common historical bonds through cultural, educational and scientific programmes. Yushchenko’s stated objective of “peacefully and constructively occupying a middle ground” and maintaining good relations with Russia, could be further supported by trying to make the next generation of Ukraine tri-lingual in Ukrainian, Russian and English. It would also reinforce national identity and cohesion.

"Ukraine's progress"


Born in Russia, Tchaikovsky's father was a Ukrainian mining engineer, his mother was French.

Prokofiev, Oistrakh and Horowitz were born in places of today's Ukraine.

"African self-help"
  • IHT article "A Marshall Plan is not what Africa needs" (29 December 2004):  By comparison [with postwar Europe], Africa is already flooded with aid.  ... The most important benefit [of the Marshall Plan] was probably the restoration of financial stability and confidence ... .
  • Our letter to the IHT editior (published 5 January 2005):  AFRICAN SELF-HELP
    Many experts will agree with Todd Moss that "aid for Africa is mostly for building, not rebuilding" ("A Marshall Plan is not what Africa needs," Views, Dec. 29).  However, his suggestion for international support through "more open trade and greater private investment" does not seem to reflect fully his own conclusion that prime issues are absorption capacity and investor confidence.

    Paramount chief Nana Akyanfuo Akowuah Dateh II in Kumase, Ghana.  Photograph by Eliot Elisofon, 1970 (National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.).Is a major challenge for Africa not first to build from within, country by country, a government management capability to handle policy-reform priorities?  That is, peace and security, principles of law, economic development, education and health, foreign relations, and regional and Pan-African institutions.

    A question is therefore how best to motivate existing African governments to seek assistance to enhance their management capability for the benefit of their people.

Observations by
Icons of Europe:

Drawing on Europe's experience, an additional priority could be for an African government to reinforce national identity by building on the cultural.heritage and diversity of the country.

Interestingly but independently of the 29 December article, IHT reported on 3 January 2005 that a group of veteran foreign policy experts gave Kofi.Annan, the UN secretary-general, "bluntly worded counsel" on his leadership and top management team.

"Ukraine's progress"
  • Our letter to the IHT editor (published 4 December 2004):  UKRAINE'S PROGRESS
    The Dec. 2 headlines use language like "Kiev foes," "Russians turn up anti-West rhetoric," "Fight to lead Ukraine reflects internal turf wars" and "Entrenched interests are battling."

    From far away, it may look as if the whole of Europe is in flames.  However, despite the diverse forces at work and uncertainty about the outcome, there is also an opportunity to look upon this situation in a more positive way.  Just imagine how any aspiration for democracy in Ukraine would have been handled during the cold war.

    Today, the Ukrainian people have been able to make themselves heard; the Supreme Court and the Parliament have shown institutional maturity; their government has set an objective of "working together"; the European Commission and EU heads of state continue to play a useful role as brokers; and the Russian government has, in my opinion, shown much restraint.

    Having already seen former satellite states join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russia is clearly in a delicate situation.  Ukraine is highly important for the Russian economy, and it would create further instability in the whole area, if the issue of autonomy spilled over to any other regions.

Confirming a point raised in our letter, IHT's main editorial "Ukraine rules" says on 4 Dec. 2004:

"One of the most heartening aspects of the Ukrainian Supreme Court’s decisi
on was that a Ukrainian institution was deciding the future of the country."

An IHT article the same day by Judy Demsey notes that EU diplomats found Moscow's attitude "understandable from a country that has such close ties with Ukraine".

23 January 2005

"Russia-EU partnership"
  • IHT article "Russia pressing the EU for special relationship" (10 November 2004):  Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin's representative for relations with the EU, also said the only reason for the postponement of a Russia-EU summit meeting this week was that Russia wants to deal with a new European Commission after it is formed. ...
  • Our response to the editor (published 13-14 November):  RUSSIA-EU PARTNERSHIP
    Russia's decision to postpone its EU summit meeting in the last week is said to be connected with Moscow's concern with being bound by an EU partnership formula that would place it on the same level as other EU members, particularly the smaller, new members ("Russia pressing the EU for special relationship," Nov. 10).

    As defined by its history, political weight, size, economy and potential, Russia is simply too big a country not to be considered different from the smaller countries of the European Union. Accordingly, the government of the United States continues to pursue a more realistic approach in dealing with Russia.

An observation by
Icons of Europe:

Russia's concern appears to be connected with the European Union's sometimes bureaucratic approach to developing a grand Russia-EU strategy.

The approach includes mechanisms such as a partnership and co-operation agreement, a common strategy, biannual summits, a country strategy paper, and a permanent partnership council.

Almost worthy of the United Nations, some of these mechanisms are also applied to much small countries.

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)."Preserving whose heritage?”
  • IHT article by Souren Melikan ("Can Britain preserve its heritage?", 16-17 October 2004):   The illusion that a nation's artistic heritage can be preserved without permanent adequate funding allocated for the purpose might cost Britain some of its most precious belongings.  ... 
  • Our response to the editor (published 20 October):
    Regarding Souren Melikian's article "Can Britain preserve its heritage?" (0ct. 16-17):  Can Britain really claim a bejeweled Bengal wine decanter and an agate flywhisk, among other treasures, as part of its heritage when they were brought to England under conditions that had "paved the way for the occupation of the subcontinent"?

    And if the dispersal of the contents of Dumfries House would be "an irreparable loss for Scottish culture," then the British Museum should consider returning Egyptian and Greek heirlooms to their original places.  The same principle would apply to the Louvre's Roman and Oriental collections.  Where would it stop?

    Finally, about that 400-year-old British suit of armor made by William Pickering between 1610 and 1613 that, to Melikian's chagrin, today adorns a New York collection:  In my opinion, it is serving a useful purpose of promoting cross-cultural understanding and international relations.

    Anyway, Britain's true heritage is represented by the contributions that icons like Shakespeare, Newton and Keynes made for the benefit of the whole world - not by imported hardware.

Icons of the U.K.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was a patron of art, music, literature and science.  She liked the young Shakespeare (1564-1616).

"Britain's true heritage is represented by the contributions that icons like Shakespeare, Newton and Keynes made for the benefit of the whole world - not by imported hardware."

The heritage is also represented by the feelings stirred by Händel's Water Music and Royal Fireworks;  and by the influence that Constable, Turner and other great painters had upon foreign schools.

Samuel Ryder, an Englishman from St Albans in Hertfordshire, who made his fortune selling penny seed packets.   The Ryder Cup matches bear his name.Getting Europe's history right

Our e-mail to the PGA / Ryder Cup administration (18 Sept. 2004):  "There is a historical inaccuracy on the Past Results web page.  The European Union flag did not exist prior to 1985.  Moreover, the U.S. team played against a British-Irish team in 1927-1977 - not a European team".

Response by PGA.com* the same day:  "We have replaced the European Union flags in 1933, 1957 and 1969 with the flags of Great Britain and Ireland.  We also corrected the applicable historical pages they linked to with the proper flags and team title.  We appreciate the email."
* Promoting golf, the PGA of America is the largest working sports organization in the world.  The Ryder Cup is said to be watched by a TV audience of some 500 million people.


"Should Europe counterbalance the US?"
>>  Issues raised by Timothy Garton Ash
"Germany and Poland: A reason to celebrate"
  • IHT article by Roger Cohen (7-8 August 2004).  The article points to a "method" of reconciling two nations traumatized by history:  i.e. define your borders; create a regional political and economic framework; downplay issues such as property rights; and accept the reality of agonizing history.
  • Our response to the editor (published on 11 August):
    ... While the elements of this method largely reflect government policies, another equally important element on which institutions and individuals can more easily act is by respecting and enjoying the cultural heritage of the other nation.  Cultural events and practices bind nations together.


Beethoven (1770-1827) Chopin (1810-1849)

"Beethoven snaps his fingers at the whole world".
Chopin, 1830

The reality of the new Europe
  • IHT editorial, "An EU reality check" (22 June 2004):
    The editorial refers to Euro 2004 as “a little sport”, to ultranationalism”, to “peoples now forced to carry a common currency”, to “jeering”, "screaming” and “spitting”, and to “So it is with the European Union.  A common market, currency and constitution, perhaps."  
  • Our response to the editor (published on 30 June): 
    It is regrettable that the editorial "An EU reality check" (June 22) uses the general excitement around the 2004 European soccer championships, with hooligans as an unfortunate element, to make a facetious snipe at the principles of the European Union ... . >> More

While our response was published by IHT, it is interesting that the IHT / The New York Times online search engine could on 2 July 2004 no longer identify the editorial.  Has it been withdrawn?  Earlier IHT editorials are still available.


Did IHT or The New York Times withdraw this editorial:
"... jeering”, "screaming” and “spitting”, and
“So it is with the European Union"?

"Europe's elections"
  • IHT article by Thomas Fuller ("Europe's disconnect", 16 June 2004):  ... A Union that has so many cultural, political and linguistic differences is united in one perverse way: No one understands how it works. ...
  • Our response to the editor (published on 19 June):
    "The new Europe is united - or at least defined - by the history and cultural heritage of its member states.  National icons and household names such as Da Vinci, Chopin and Shakespeare provide strong bonds between many countries ... that "all adds up to an essential part of Europe's identity and values".   >> More

Antonin Dvorak        As it happened, Icons of Europe organized on 5 June 2004 near Brussels a Brahms-Dvorák-Martinu recital to illustrate how such Icons create strong bonds between countries - in this case the Czech Republic, Germany, Britain and the United States.

BBC about the EU constitution


Daniel Blumenthal (American) and Justus Grimm (German) in Lasne, 5 June 2004:  celebrating the New Europe and Dvorak's 100-year anniversary.

Icons of Europe:

"The new Europe is united - or at least defined - by the history and cultural heritage of its member states".

Misuse of the name "CHOPIN"
  • Le Soir article by Niccolas Guggenbühl,
    "Chopin se met  l'écoute des enfants"
    (15-16 November 2003):  The article in the Science & Santé section of the Belgian newspaper Le Soir saw mistakenly a link to the composer Chopin, when it reported on the EUR 2-million EU-funded Danone Institut research project that used the acronym CHOPIN for "Childhood Obesity: Early Programming by Infant Nutrition".
  • Icons of Europe's letter to the President of the European Commission (16 November 2003):  "In view of the importance of ... protecting the cultural heritage and diversity of Europe, it is unfortunate that the European Commission has, perhaps by oversight, associated itself with an inappropriate use of the name of the famous composer Frédéric Chopin".  ... "Corrective action ... will be needed to avoid that other great names would be misrepresented by a creative attempt to popularise a project".
  • Letter from the European Commission to Icons of Europe (16 February 2004):   "I am pleased to inform you that ... the project consortium has agreed to withdraw the acronym" (CHOPIN). -  The newspaper Le Soir has so far made no comments on the subject.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849).

""Corrective action ... will be needed to avoid that other great names would be misrepresented by a creative attempt to popularise a project".