The PACE Committee on Culture Science Education had in April this year an exchange with Mr Lamassoure who presented us his report. In October at the initiative of the French Delegation to PACE, a motion for resolution has been tabled for the “establishment of an observatory of History to promote the common values of greater Europe and peace”(it will be considered on the 29th of November).
Mr Lamassoure rightly pointed out that the knowledge of history is a very important factor for common benchmarks and future. He is perfectly right: ignorance is not only one of the worst mankind’s misfortunes but also the inadequate methods to approach history. What really matters is the knowledge of the historical facts, their causes and not their pervesion or distortion.
I truly believe that this difficult, delicate and sensitive project, if backed by political commitment would make a difference. It would provide the foundation for a common European consciousness and shared vision of from where we come from and to where we wish to go together.
I say that the task is difficult, since it implicates and deals with national narratives to historical facts; and we all know that teaching history is often considered as a national legacy and that no one is entitled to interfere with but the states.
It would be naïf to believe that we can offset different perceptions or even different interpretation of our history, but at least we must be able to agree historical facts and listen honestly to each other to enhance our mutual understanding and reconciliation.
We may not agree on all, but that we learn building our future together which is founded on our values, principles and of course on truth.
The observatory is not expected to rewrite history. But, even if history may be written by the winner (as Napoleon Bonaparte once declared), it can be narrated in a manner that serves to peace, understanding and truth.
The conclusion of my short contribution is that the proposal of the French Residency is a great chance we have at the CoE to give to our history its real meaning.
May I remind that as Evripides said : He is lucky the one who was taught history («῎Ολβιος, ὅστις τῆς ἱστορίας ἔσχε μάθησιν»)!