Europe Day 2011 activiies celebrated today around Gozo
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The current conflicts in the Arab world lent a special meaning to this year’s commemoration of Europe Day as peoples on the EU’s doorstep were risking their lives to achieve the liberties and opportunities that EU citizens enjoy today.
Celebrations linked to Europe Day 2011 kicked off in Gozo this morning with the fifth edition of the European Parliament Football Festival held for the first time in Gozo at the main Gozo Stadium in Xewkija.
Introducing the event Julian Vassallo, Head of the European Parliament Valletta Office said Europe Day marked the end of centuries of the logic of war in Europe.
“The situation beyond its borders is very different. When much of the rest of the world seems willing to turn a blind eye to the events in the Mediterranean, it is the Europeans who have taken the lead to resist regimes ready to turn on their own peoples to cling on to power at all costs. It is the Europeans that have come to the aid of those who are risking their lives for the liberties and opportunities that we take for granted in the EU,” said Dr Vassallo.
Addressing the young participants who took part in the morning of football, MEP Simon Busuttil said Europe Day was about celebrating the values of democracy in the European Union.
“It was a value which Europe should now help its neighbours in North African countries, notably in Libya, to achieve,” Dr Busuttil said.
Chris Said, Parliamentary Secretary for Consumers, Fair Competition, Local Councils and Public Dialogue, said Europe Day signified the end of major conflicts on the continent and the beginning of prosperity for the European nations.
Referring to the current situation in North Africa and the Middle East where whole nations had risen against oppression and expressed their desire for freedom and democracy, Dr Said drew comparisons with the various revolutions that took place in different European countries during the 19th century and with the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe during the late 1980s.
Dr Said highlighted the importance of celebrating the EU for the opportunities it affords citizens in the form of peace and security, worker and student mobility, new job opportunities, a better environment and guaranteed rights and freedoms.
The Fifth European Parliament Football Festival held for the first time in Gozo included participants from the nurseries of Oratory Youths, Nadur Youngsters, Munxar Falcons, Xaghra United, Ghajnsielem, St Laurence/Gharb, Xewkija Tigers, as well as Pietà Hotspurs and Birkirkara FC from Malta, were organised by the European Parliament Valletta Office, the Gozo Football Association and the Malta Sports Council.
Each player was given a football as participation token.In Victoria, cultural activities were held in St Francis Square, Victoria, which was attended among others, by the European Commissioner, John Dalli, the Minister for Gozo, Giovanno Debono, Parliamentary Assistant Frederick Azzopardi, the Head of European Commission Representation in Malta, Mr. William Martin and Head of the European Parliament Office in Malta Mr. Julian Vassallo.
This activity was dominated by the participation of Gozitan students attending schools for Music and Drama, there were displays of music, theatre and dance inlcuding some with an Hungarian theme. This is because this year, Hungary holds the Presidency of the European Union. In addition, young participants attending Gozo Centre for Arts and Crafts in Ghajnsielem, submitted drawings and caricatures of children that they had done this morning. Also exhibited were drawings that the children had done earlier about what Europe Day means to them.
The programme also included dances by the Astra and Aurora folk groups and the Central Academy of Dance. The Victoria Scouts Group gave displays of various activities that they learn in their training.
Europe Day 2011 events organised by the European Parliament Office in Malta and the European Commission Representation in Malta will resume on 9 May in Valletta.