62. This time of hope and expectation, however, is not without new dangers.
The new space means old problems can come to the surface again. And the
process of transformation itself, as with all processes of such kind, is
bound to invite its own conflicts as well. What many see as a new future,
is seen by others as a threat. It is a painful process. It is therefore
of the utmost importance that as churches in Europe we also reflect upon
the risks of this process of transformation. We must emphasize the following:
- In the process of transformation which Europe is now going through, countries,
groups and people will be under the temptation to give absolute priority to
their own interests, their own rights, their own views. If this happens, the
limited room for rapid change may be used up very soon. We plead: let this
process of transformation be also a process of reconciliation. This means
more than the absence of violence. It means also openness to the claims and
rights of "the other side"; to both the capacity for change which is required
from others, as well as to its limits.
- The Single European Act, which aims at a barrier free market in the European
Community after 1992, is already dynamizing the process of Western European
integration. This raises both expectations and anxieties. The hope is that
the well-being of many people will be improved. The fear is that this will
happen at the expense of and at the exclusion of many others. As churches
in Europe as a whole we must advocate that this opening up of the borders
within Western Europe does not lead to a "bastion Western Europe" which becomes
more closed towards the rest of the world. Economic cooperation, including
measures to ameliorate the debt crisis, and also to lessen the technological
gap between Western Europe and Eastern Europe and between Northern and Southern
Europe are required. The same applies to other issues. Especially the policy
towards refugees and asylum seekers will be a test of this openness. Moreover,
the churches in the countries directly involved must be especially attentive
to the effects of this integration on the North-South relations within Europe,
on the needs of the poor within their own societies, on social security and
on participation, and on the needs of nature to be respected and protected.
Special attention has to be given to structures of injustice and exploitation
that often accompany the tourist industry.