The founder and director of the WCM, Jasminko Halilovic, spoke at the “State of Europe” event in Brussels, attended by a large number of high-ranking guests: ministers of EU member states, former prime ministers and presidents, and other decision-makers.
Halilovic delivered the opening speech of the session “A Europe of security and values for the 21st century”, which, apart from him, included Christian Danielsson, the Swedish State Secretary for EU Affairs, Hanna Liubakova, a Belarusian journalist in exile, Federica Mogherini, Rector of the European College, former EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, and Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice.
On this occasion, two exhibits from the WCM collection were also presented, one from Ukraine and one from Palestine. In his speech, Halilovic focused on three concepts from the session’s title: security, values, and the 21st century.
Speaking of Europe and security, Halilovic presented to the audience an exhibit from Ukraine that tells the story of an internally displaced family and reminded that the war that began in 2014 had already displaced millions of Ukrainians, but that was not a sufficient warning sign for the European Union.
“If it had been, today the EU would be in a different position. If it had been, today Ukraine would be in a different position. If it had been, perhaps the full-scale invasion of Ukraine would never have happened,” said Halilovic, adding that even one displaced child is too many and should be taken as a serious warning sign.
Speaking of Europe and values, the director of the WCM presented an exhibit that the Museum documented in Gaza.
“The European Union was established on the values of human rights, human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, international law. Its two founding goals are to promote these values and contribute to peace in the world. The European Union has not fulfilled its goals; it has not contributed to peace in Israel and Palestine, and thus, in the eyes of many outside the EU, has betrayed the idea of Europe,” said Halilovic.
“Rose, who donated this scarf to the Museum, is now 15 years old. We do not know if she and her family are well. In fact, we do not know if Rose is even alive,” he concluded.
Finally, speaking of the “21st century”, Halilovic emphasized that he wants to re-examine this time frame from the session’s title. He referred to the WCM collection’s exhibits related to World War II, warning that although it was the 20th century, these are stories of 21st-century Europe, where millions of people are still affected by the war from the last century.
“War stays with people, it remains in societies. It often gets passed on to children or grandchildren. Therefore, the exhibits I have brought may also speak of 22nd-century Europe,” said Halilovic, concluding with the message that the consequences of war are long-term, just like the consequences of decisions that politicians are now making.