It seems that the challenges of these times are so urgent and important, that they often require us to formulate an answer before facing the signs of a future mostly defined by uncertainty. Meanwhile, however, the world around us changes quickly. To speak about how the European Union can stand before the third millennium is, above all, an intellectual challenge. The pretension that a truly new view is being presented may seem daring. In a globalised world claiming that it would build a society of knowledge, however, we can only picture a present which is subordinated to the future. Even in a Europe relying on two millennia of equally uplifting and painful history, the very present reveals itself to us as a memory of the future.
While preparing for this debate, where I am happy to again meet a number of notable figures for which the European Union was equally an ideal, an academic goal and a political mission, I took the opportunity presented by the isolation imposed by the pandemic and revisited a number of books that defined my path as an intellectual.
As I was re-reading Faust, I came to understand that, beyond the drama of the scholar who, in his old age, sells his soul to the devil in exchange for youth, the book also holds within its pages a startling forecast on contemporary Europe. At a time where the dawn of the industrial revolution was merely a glimpse, Goethe anticipated the very challenges that Europe is facing now. The final chapter of the tragedy, which Goethe dedicated over six decades of his life to, shows us Faust ready to build a grandiose city and a canal. To be able to build, however, he would need to demolish as well. The quaint house of a family of elders stands in his way, so he sends Mephisto to convince them to move such that they wouldn’t be in the way of his great urban vision. Mephisto uses the opportunity and kills the elders. Faust finds the news bothersome, but not too bothersome, as he accepts that sacrifice, too, is necessary. While Faust was absorbed with his project, four dark-hearted shadows show up: Dearth, Debt, Need, and Worry. As they advanced upon Faust’s home, Dearth, Debt, Need and Worry pause: “We cannot enter the house of a rich man”; yet Worry, who “can enter anywhere”, asks Faust whether he has ever known that feeling. With the arrogance of a man focused on his actions, Faust answers that he has never felt worried. Thus, Worry renders him blind, because it is only those who are blind that do not worry for what might happen in the future. The blind Faust then hurries to complete his work. He is happy to hear the noise of the picks digging to build the canal, but the workers were not digging for the canal - they were digging for his own grave. As he declares to Mephisto that he is happy, his soul, as per the contract concluded, comes to belong to the devil. However, despite all the evil deeds he had done together with Mephisto, he is saved by God, who had watched his last Deed dedicated not to any personal interest, but rather to a better future for humanity. The message that Goethe conveys suggests that he who commits his life to a grandiose purpose deserves to be remembered by posterity. What is decisive, however, is the intervention of Margaret, the unfortunate victim of his guilty passion, who implored Mary, the Mother of God, to save his soul. Building is good, using our creative energies is very good, as Goethe tells us, but we must never forget that, in the end, it is only true love that can save our soul.
Why did I recall a work that was written 247 years ago? Because it is my belief that, in this time of crisis, Europe is in need of a vision that, in a swiftly changing world, will allow us to imagine even that which today seems unthinkable. It is only with such a vision that we can create development strategies and the related public policies to cover an entire electoral cycle. I also believe that, beyond the acquis communautaire and its economic, administrative, social and military projects, Europe must also rediscover its European ethos, which it seems to have lost.
A coherent answer to the question, What will the future of the European Union be? is counted among the great intellectual challenges of the 21st century, because the development of the current political, economic and military project will not be able to continue for too long in the absence of a solid, coherent and – in particular – broadly--accepted cultural model.
With the swift development of the European Union as a prevailingly political and economic project, the split between Euroenthusiasts and Eurosceptics is often formal and generated by political, economic, social or emotional considerations.
The European Union today is faced with a range of issues that not only threaten its current administrative structure, but also set up for challenges to its future, and a debate on these issues can neither be avoided, nor postponed. I find several of these to be of the utmost priority. The most recent, Brexit, has created a precedent for Eurosceptics aiming to leave the European Union, and it should drive reforms of the political and administrative framework, focusing at the very least on minimising red tape. It is necessary to work to swiftly complete the integration of all Western Balkan states, which sacrificed so much to resolve their domestic and foreign conflicts, in order to strengthen the cooperation between them. Now is the time to set some limits to the eastward expansion of the European Union, inasmuch as the legal framework allows, or otherwise change the legal framework or identify credible forms of association to eliminate the existing ambiguities. Migration from the Middle East and Northern Africa has tested the capacity of the European Union to accept and integrate a large, diverse population, with different beliefs and life choices. This test is still ongoing, with attempts to adapt to time and space requirements, in an effort to protect and assist those who undertake considerable risks to keep themselves away from war, oppression and poverty. For them, Europe can be seen as a safe haven where they can find protection and assistance to start a new life; however, their integration proved to be an issue not easily overcome, in the absence of any cultural affinity with the new environment they chose to live in, within the context of mutual respect.
We should not forget that the European Union was and continues to be an exceptional project, continuously refined through new treaties, institutions, and experiences. It is a unique creation formed by the coming together of a number of states, by their own will, to incorporate a series of shared values that are continuously developing and adapting to a changing reality. Thus, the European Union represents a constant process of learning democracy, rights, freedoms and solidarity – concepts that were built within the European space, but which can also be found in faraway places on the globe, where the European civilisational model was adopted.
Besides highlighting the inherent economic and social hardships, the latest global economic crisis and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have also brought to light a much deeper reality: the fracture between the current globalised political and economic system on one hand and the cultural models that defined the beginnings of the European Union on the other.
Without an awareness of the cultural foundations of the European Union project, any analysis of the civilisation becomes subject to unwanted fracturing. The ongoing economic, political and, more recently, health crises remind us of Robert Schuman’s warning, issued in 1963: “Before it becomes a military or an economic alliance, Europe must be a cultural identity, in the fullest meaning of the word.”
Time tends to speed up into the new century. However, this does not mean that we need to rush without thinking. Our past shapes our future, whether we accept that or not. And, just to capture a positive aspect of the lockdown imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic – we could imagine the feeling of a driver who, in their hurry to get to their destination, has to stop for a red light. Their first feeling is displeasure. Then they realise that, in the midst of thundering traffic, this stop is more than welcome. It affords them enough time to see the cars behind them in the mirror, look at the cars next to them and, after wiping their windscreen, see the boulevard the crossroads, the roundabouts and even some of the bumps in the road in front of them. They have time to listen to the engine’s trepidations and adjust their fuel consumption. And, because the voice of the GPS has stopped, they are even able to examine the historical and cultural monuments around and remember how they got to be on the streets of that city. What I mean by this allegory is that, beyond the public policy projects that each country must submit to the European Commission, beyond the strategies for 2030 and 2050, we are still in need of something more.
The 21st century is in need of a new cultural model that will not only respond to the economic and social shocks of globalisation, but also create a hope-giving vision towards a future defined by chaotic developments and uncertainty. A historical opportunity now presents itself for such a project. To begin with, the two political projects that have driven global progress through democracy and the market economy – the United States and the European Union – must now be reviewed with a critical eye, in order to ascertain how they can continue in a world that has seen considerable change in the interim. The two political constructions, although operation on shared values and principles, have distinct identities stemming from the different historical contexts within which they came into being.
The American political project has operated as a “melting pot”, where immigrants leaving the absolutist European empires adopted one language (English), a new religious doctrine (neo-Protestantism), an economic doctrine (the capitalist market doctrine) and a different political system (representative democracy), all joined together under the pride of a single model, the American model, touted as valid for the entire world. This cohesion generated force and appeal for the rest of the world; however, should this unity and solidarity weaken, as one can argue is occurring at present, then the United States, while remaining powerful at a global level, would become vulnerable ‘at home’.
Conversely, the political project of the European Union took shape at the end of a great historical tragedy that bloodied the entire world – the Second World War – and appeared to offer a new chance for peace, for both Europe and the world.
Less than one year after Nazi Germany’s capitulation, Konrad Adenauer, after being elected president of the Christian-Democratic Union, publicly stated his beliefs in a speech delivered in March of 1946 at Köln University, which was then within the British military occupation area: “I am, and I remain, German; but, equally, I was always European and I felt like a European”. The keyword in this speech is „I felt”. In a Europe that had lost dozens of millions of human lives, the issue was no longer about money; it was about deep-rooted feelings of guilt and hope. In the collective consciousness, Peace meant Life. In an area under “British occupation”, it was about “freedom”. In a Germany just emerging out of a dictatorship, it was about “democracy”. In the Declaration of 9 May 1950, five years after the end of World War Two, Robert Schuman stated that “Europe’s integration represents an immense and difficult work”, “requiring a diametrical change in the relationships between European states”, a work that “we do together, based on absolute parity, in mutual respect and trust, after a time when our generation has known the greatest extent of suffering and hatred”. When Jean Monnet’s proposals gave rise to the European Coal Community in 1951 and the European Steel Community in 1957, in an economically-ruined Europe, it was about an escape from famine; it was about survival. The European project was then born, out of a “pedagogy of suffering” rather than as a result of profit-maximizing calculations.
The eastward expansion of the European Union project up to its current size occurred at the end of another immense historical trauma – the Cold War, and the fall of Communist dictatorships – as an opportunity for the countries and peoples of Central and Eastern Europe to integrate into a space of freedom and democracy and overcome frozen historical conflicts, left unresolved during years of Communist dictatorship.
In 1995, Wilfried Martens, the president of the European People’s Party and of the Christian-Democratic European Union between 1990-2013, invited me to attend the launch of his book “One Europe and the Other”, a collection of his political speeches. In the foreword to that book, Helmut Köhl, the architect of Germany’s reunification, emphasised: “it goes without saying that the European Union is not all of Europe”.
We now find nations within the European Union which, a century and a half ago, through the 1848 Revolution, fought to liberate themselves from under Imperial Habsburg, Ottoman and Tsarist domination and forge their national states; nations capable of modernising their people and joining the prosperous states of the European West. After the fall of the Communism, the European Union managed to generate a powerful attraction towards Europe for states coming from under the USSR’s former area of influence, states that would have otherwise fallen prey to regional and domestic conflicts that had been frozen under Communist dictatorships. The peoples of Central and South-Eastern Europe proved to have an unexpected capacity for understanding and sacrifice, as well as demonstrating enviable solidarity. Do we have the capacity to learn anything from the lessons of the past? If so, then the experience of South-Eastern Europe must be capitalised upon, by taking its best and most favourable elements, and using them to craft the European identity of our continent.
The European Union, towards which the energies of these nations have turned with such zeal, cannot be reduced to the mere sum of the states and nations that compose it. The European Union is not a more comprehensive nation; it is a vast, ongoing experience, the experience of differences brought together in solidarity, the experience of equality in diversity. It remains a political project with a very distinct identity which, starting from the conflict-generating diversity intrinsic to the age of the nation-state, has not only accepted but also promoted the development of national, linguistic, religious and cultural identities.
In my experience as a geologist researching broad natural petrographic areas, I learned that a system under strong, punctual pressure (stress) will fare better if it is elastic, rather than rigid. At the same time, we cannot forget that the success of any project is tied to the availability of resources. Designed as a form of unity in diversity, the European Union project was – and still is – an expensive undertaking. It could not have been achieved without the financial and military support of the United States. In the current global crisis, such a harmonious system can be adopted, once more, through an extended EU-US partnership. Europe can provide opportunities for a transfer of pressures, as in the case of the Dollar-Euro binomial, or otherwise the possibility of alternative approaches in times of regional or global political crisis.
Such constructions can be sufficient to address the crisis in the short run, but they will not be efficient in the long run unless Europe and the US are able to find the intellectual resources required to design a new cultural model for the world of the future. Building future strategies based on current policies, and consequently building a vision of the future starting from these long-term strategies, irrespective of how durable they are, would only mean progressing towards the future while looking backwards. If, on the contrary, we begin from an inspired vision of the future and walk towards the present, then we can advance facing the future and notice the obstacles and the dangers ahead oftime.
I believe we need to go beyond the transition from a “clash of civilisations” to a “dialogue of civilisations”. We require a “culture of recognition”, which means much more than a mere dialogue between cultures – it means an inner dialogue and a form of spiritual therapy through recognising the value of the other as well as one’s own limits.
In 1993, Cees Nooteboom acknowledged that, “If I am European – and I hope that, after almost sixty years of hard work, I finally reached a point where I am – this undoubtedly means that the multicultural European identity deeply influences my Dutch identity”. This is an idea that I subscribe to, because Romanian identity, to which I belong, is equally affected by European diversity and the European identity. However, while Dutch identity was never under question as a European identity, the Romanian identity was; and this, for at least three reasons that have to do with history. First, it is about Romanians’s appurtenance to the Eastern European space in general, and to the space of Eastern Orthodoxy, in particular. Secondly, it is about the Romanian principalities’ historical political subordination to the Ottoman Empire, which is viewed as a full subordination to the power of Greater Turkey – a false assumption which ignores Romanians’ cultural and religious independence from the Sublime Porte. Thirdly, Romania’s subordination to the Soviet Empire after the Second World War further strengthened its imaginary alienation from Europe, which had become the “Paradise Lost” of all subjugated nations. These are the reasons why I feel committed to contribute to the clarification of Romanians’ European identity.
The carefully crafted European identity relies on the memory of the past on which Europe was built. I also feel European because I am shaped by a modernity carved by Kafka, the Czech; Joyce, the Irishman; Proust, the Frenchman, but also by Romanians Brancusi, Ionesco and Tristan Tzara. If, as Ortega y Gasset proposed, we were to take stock today of our mental content – opinions, standards, desires, hypotheses –, we would notice that most of it “does not come from France for the French, from Germany for the Germans, from Britain for the British, nor does it come from Spain for the Spaniards, but rather, it comes from our shared European background”. 
As for us, Romanians, it can be said that we strongly influenced the European cultural identity in the mid-20th century both through the work of Brancusi, Ionesco, Tristan Tzara, but also through that of Eliade, Cioran, Lupasco or Enescu. This is not because any of them ostensibly promoted the specificity of being Romanian in the West, a specificity which was otherwise deeply engrained in their personality, but because they greatly contributed to ushering modernism into European and world literature, philosophy, art and music at a time when European culture appeared calcified. The lesson they left us is that only by being deeply European and universal can one truly promote our national identity.
At a time of economic and political crisis, when masses of citizens who have repeatedly proven their democratic maturity and openness find in their past the fear of another Party, a fear which they project onto the present, the time has come to thoroughly ponder on the dialectics of identity and difference, if we wish to protect and develop the very concept of Europe.
European integration will no longer evolve, unless it takes into account the inevitable tension between the identities that compose it – not in order to dilute them, but in order to learn from the past and find a way to safeguard them and direct their energies towards the future.
If we refer to the European Union member states that joined after 2000, we might ask ourselves what the “added value” that they brought in is, and what the “added value” that they receive from the EU is. If we were to use the consecrated terminology of contemporary debate, we can also ask ourselves how the “country brand” changes for each member of the European Union, and what could a “European brand” look like in a globalised world. We most often tend to adopt the “compliant language” of European bureaucracy - a “technical”, “politically correct” language that masks the difficult realities, without, however, solving the real issues. This approach cannot help us manage the serious challenges of the world of tomorrow, not with our societies traumatised under the obsession of the risks that European integration and continuing globalisation entail. In this regard, it is those societies whose leaders are neither capable of explaining the mission of historical projects, nor can they clarify the value that will be obtained for the costs, that will be traumatised most.
Citizens’ capacity to support significant projects must not be underestimated. Although the European Union is the most important historical project of the 20th century, a project unique in the history of humanity, it has not always known how to give citizens the place they hoped for. Many people, especially the younger generations, doubt Europe; they do not know how it was created and what the pace of its development is. The desire to reconcile aspirations, even preconceptions, with this immense European project should aim to confront them with concrete aspects, in equal measure intellectual and practical, since preconceived ideas are often an indication of actual questions and ongoing problems waiting to be answered by current and future decision-makers. We can hope to overcome the past without forgetting it, to broaden our linguistic and cultural horizon without abandoning our own language, and to transcend geopolitical spaces without losing our curiosity or our legitimate pride.
The future of the European Union’s foreign policy
Foreign policy is a sophisticated field, equally connected to grand politics and to the minute interests of the EU member states.
Despite all ambiguities of the past two decades, new concepts, new institutions, new opportunities are about to come through and shape a truly new, European, identity. A new vision on European and international security can open the way to a common European foreign policy. But first, we should perhapstackle the very concept of a common European foreign policy. Is it necessary? Is it good? Is it possible to imagine that centuries of different views, even of diverging opinions regarding the foreign stakes of, say, Germany and France, or Italy and Sweden, not to mention Poland and Austria, or Hungary and Romania, can and should be replaced by a single voice and a single set of decisions?
In principle, my answer is yes. The European Union is a single political body, which can provide a single political response to the inevitable reality of an indivisible European security. It was never merely a coalition of nation states, but neither will it be – at least not in a foreseeable future – a stand-alone superstate.
The end of the Cold War brought about the illusion that the security of Western Europe was no longer challenged by any threat. Even if never spelled out – or perhaps, particularly because it was never spelled out – this false, reassuring idea is what many decisions and attitudes, both European and American, were based on. In the ‘90s, the Western Balkan crisis dramatically questioned this hypothesis and proved the opposite – namely that, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the entirety of Europe is threatened whenever any one of its countries is facing any risk. The Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) had positive results within the European Union in solving the Cyprus issue in 1995, settling the conflict between Great Britain and Spain in their dispute over Gibraltar, improving the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in 1998 and, externally, through the Eastern Partnership and the Union for the Mediterranean. All this, however, is too little.
The emergence of a new post-Communist world order and the rise of international terrorism determined the countries of the European Union to intensify their efforts to speak in unison about global issues and proved that, if we continue to act separately, as independent nations, when the Treaty of Lisbon gives us the means not to do so, we will fail.
As a constitutional body with a complex structure, the European Union is a unique construction in today’s world, and a novel concept in the entirety of world history. Consequently, its way of conducting politics must be novel as well. Its diplomacy must be novel as well. In a world dominated by blocs, the European Union’s opportunity lies in its imaginative capacity to be different, but no less functional.
Regarding its geopolitical and strategic vision, should we expect to see the development of several complementary strategies, or rather, an explosive free-for-all of contradicting conceptions? Will the strategy be limited and Western-centric, or all-encompassing?
The collapse of Communist Europe was also a victory of the concept of transatlantic security. 30 years later, we can ask ourselves whether it has only generated new types of solidarity or rather has it also promoted, in an almost irrational manner, the first true rupture between the American continent and Europe? During George Bush Jr.’s term in office, the United States of America have, for the first time after the Second World War, developed a fully autonomous security concept. This was negated, at least in theory, by the Obama administration, and has again found a more powerful expression during Trump’s mandate. In American politics, this tendency did not evaporate overnight and, although it will likely fade, it is equally likely to not disappear entirely during Biden’s mandate either, because it is indeed not normal for European security to be prevailingly supported by the US. Does this mean that the security of our continent will continue to be transatlantic, or should we envision a European Defence Identity that is very different from what we have now?
The European Union has a full range of economic, legal, diplomatic and military instruments at its disposal that allow it to operate efficiently at a global level. Is this, however, sufficient to enable us to say – as one Brussels document states – that the European Union is a key player in international issues, ranging from global warming to the conflicts in the Middle East? On the EU web portal, the Union’s common foreign policy is claimed to be Decisive diplomacy. Dictionaries explain that decisive means having the power to drive a result or be conclusive; antonyms of this word include `inconclusive` and `undetermined`. Apparently, the European Union’s foreign policy has acquired a significant capacity for response> it has the means, but, for the moment, lacks the vision of a specific, European international role.
In a way, that is only natural. The European Union is not merely a common market; it is a high-risk innovation and a political experiment and, as such, a modality for it to reinvent itself step by step. Centuries of competition between nations must be overcome by a radically opposite reality of cordial cooperation and sincere mutual trust. This is not an easy task, as it entails not only slow evolution, but also a change of paradigm, in at least three broad directions. Firstly, the European Union must abandon the rule of the zero-sum game and, in all respects, adopt the very different behaviour of a win-win proposition. Secondly, it needs to adopt a new strategic concept, one more attuned to the geostrategic realities of today. And thirdly, it needs to shift from bureaucratic decisions to a truly democratic mechanism in drafting its foreign and security policies. The current crisis is not only an economic and financial black hole – it is also an opportunity to radically shift paradigms. Europe cannot meet its own future without such a paradigm shift occurring both within the Union and in the EU’s relationships with the broader globe.
In order to shape its own vision on international policy, it needs to understand the thought processes of two of the large players on the contemporary stage - the United States and China.
With regard to American geopolitical strategy at the end of the 20th century, one source of inspiration seems to have been the game of chess. In March 1998, during a visit to Washington, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave me his book, “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives”, with a note that encouraged me in my efforts to integrate of Romania into the European Union and NATO. The book by Jimmy Carter’s former presidential national security adviser (1977–1980), a professor at John Hopkins University of Washington, puts forward a daring geostrategic vision on the future of the US as a superpower in the 21st century. Brzezinski attempts to answer the question: why is the US (or was, in 1997) not only the first true global superpower, but also the last superpower – and what are the implications for the US’ superpower “heritage”? In the chapter on “The Eurasian Chessboard”, Brzezinski argues that Eurasia is the chessboard on which the fight for global supremacy will play out. Although the management of geopolitical interests can be compared to chess, and Eurasia does appear to resemble a chessboard, this game is not only played by two players but by several, each with different shares of power. On this chessboard, the key players are located in the West, Centre and South, while the Western and Eastern outskirts are represented by densely populated areas, organised in relatively congested spaces with several powerful states. Acknowledging that the next six states with significant economies, the next six military powers after the US, and the two states with most numerous populations are also located in Eurasia, Brzezinski notes that, luckily for the US, Eurasia is too big to be a unitary political region. At the same time, the author notes that the United States are much too democratic at home to be autocratic elsewhere, which limits the use of their capacity for military intimidation; the nuclear arsenal has reduced the usefulness of war as a political instrument, while the increase of economic interdependence has rendered economic blackmail no longer efficient. Given these factors, the goal of American politics should, in his view, be benign and visionary at the same time: to build a truly global, cooperative community, in line with the fundamental interests of humanity, while at the same time ensuring that no emerging challenger comes to dominate Eurasia. The formulation of a comprehensive, integrated Eurasian geostrategy is, in fact, the message of his book, which is dedicated to his students that it may help them better shape the world of tomorrow. As far as China is concerned, Brzezinski believes thatto view it as a threat is akin to beginning to talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If this is how Brzezinski saw the prospects of the US’ game on the Eurasian chessboard in 1997, how then do the Chinese see their geopolitical strategy in the globalised world, almost two decades later?
In my opinion, in order to understand that, we need to understand the game of Go. The game of Go is a combinatorial strategy game, over 2500 years old, originating in China; the Chinese call it weigi圍棋 and the Japanese call it igo囲碁, which means `to surrender`. In Ancient China, it was deemed to be one of the four essential arts (alongside painting, music and calligraphy) for the culture of Chinese emperors and sages. The game uses an unlimited supply of pieces (stones), where the goal is to use one’s own stones to secure as many points as possible. The stones are laid at the intersection of grid lines, and the surrounding intersections are called ‘liberties’. Essentially, Go is a game about freedom of movement. If a group of stones loses all its liberties, it becomes captured. Any move that results in the annihilation of all liberty of a group of one’s own stones is deemed to be a suicide, and is forbidden. If both players pass their turn, the game is ended. A player admits defeat when they have lost a large group of stones surrounded by the opponent. In terms of the theory of combinatorial games, Go is a zero-sum game, which requires perfect information and a deterministic strategy. It illustrates the role of balance at multiple levels, as well as the role of internal tensions. What I found particularly interesting about Go is its handicap system, which compensates for skill difference between players with various levels of expertise, thus creating the premises for them to meet – premises that are almost non-existent in official chess competitions.
In Go, the lower-skilled player receives a larger number of stones (pieces), proportional to the difference between his own skill level and that of his opponent, and he can moreover occupy advantageous positions on the game board first. He also has the right to open the game and, thus, can better implement his desired strategy. Of course, we would expect this strategy to be inferior to that developed by his better-ranked opponent, but the advantages offered by the handicap system allow for a balanced confrontation and the actual verification of the two theoretical approaches. In this manner, the weaker player learns through direct contact with clearly superior game philosophies. On the other hand, the stronger player also has the opportunity to improve his game, as he comes into contact with fresh tactics and ideas which he would not have the opportunity to study otherwise, and also avoids the routine of repetitive games.
As William Pinkard noticed, while the game of chess, with its rows of soldiers marching ahead to capture enemy soldiers, represents the conflict of “HUMAN – against – HUMAN”, the game of Go can be seen as a challenging form of self-improvement, a game of “HUMAN – against – HIMSELF”. 
In May 2015, at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, I had the opportunity to meet the president of the Institute, Chen Dongxiao. At the end of our talks, I received a book, “China and G20”, published in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Germany, as well as a magazine of the Institute, which tackled the main lines of China’s foreign policy strategy. In one paper in this magazine, daringly titled, “Is China trying to push the United States out of West Asia?”, Wang Dong, a professor at the Beijing University and head of the China – US Institute, counters the claims of some Western commentators about China’s intentions to act towards pushing the US out of East Asia by using the very principles of the “Monroe Doctrine”, once used by Americans to justify their hegemony over their area of influence. His argument is that, for a future development of East Asia, the two protagonists – the United States as an accredited power, and China as a growing power – will have to accommodate one another, negotiate and renegotiate the limits of their relative power, as well as their role in the future regional order, where Beijing and Washington will learn to share responsibilities and leadership.
If we look not only at the “goban” of Eurasia, but also at the global “goban”, we can also notice how the Chinese behave in the human conglomerates that they create in other countries of the world. Despite migrating and settling down in countries governed by different beliefs, ideologies and cultures, the Chinese have nevertheless preserved their identity over more than one century of immigration, and did not allow themselves to be assimilated; they built compact communities similar to colonies of bees or termites, with a strict organisation around internal hierarchies. By preserving their freedom of movement, however, they did not attempt to change the status quo and de-structure their host countries, thus preserving a balance that has proven convenient for all.
One can also notice that, in its expansion in the globalised world, China does not intend to propagate Communism or the planned economy that it practises internally, nor Confucianism, the Buddhist religions or the Chinese language. Moreover, at least until now, it prefers an interstatal economic integration that proves as profitable as possible since, as Deng Xiaoping once stated years ago, “it does not matter whether a cat is black or white; what matters is that it catches mice”. 
Above all, we need to view classical security issues only as particular cases, in relation to the “non-Euclidean” security prospects initiated by the beginning of the era of humanity’s struggle against terrorism. Such unorthodox strategies require new evaluation methods and a new type of human resource involved in this process. Commissioners or prosecutors are superior to generals in this respect, while police forces and methods may be more useful that military strategists. The Wikileaks saga has proven that hackers can be either an “asset” or a “plague”. It is my belief that we need to imagine a new division of labour in these new fields of non-traditional risks, both between military personnel and civilians, and between the United States and their European allies. Instead of re-duplicating military models on a different scale for each country, it might prove useful to think of the complementary component of integration. It was achieved in terms of information. Why shouldn’t it be the case in other fields, in order to initiate a comprehensive security concept? In any event, this new non-Euclidean geometry of European security must ensure better control of the gates to Europe, which implies the need to strengthen both the Northern and the Southern flank of the entire system.
I am not trying to sell a new utopia. As a person dedicated to scientific research, I am used to healthy criticism. As a former head of state, I was often confronted with tensions that had the potential for conflict, either as a secondary effect or – worse – as a perverted effect of the integration process. We can control such perverted effects, but we cannot control a defeat of the European Union’s foreign policy process as a whole. An expanded European Union, deeply anchored in its transatlantic alliance, may be a long-term solution for the security of Europe and beyond. It can generate major progress in the economy and civilisation. Both through its rich material resources, knowledge and techniques, and through its extraordinary richness of highly educated human resources, this Europe of the near future has an enormous potential for growth.
This also means that we need to begin rethinking the foundation of the global economy and of the global world in a broader sense. What I mean by this is that internationality, in the sense of interrelationships, mutual exchanges and global diversity, must prevail over globalisation, in the sense of uniformity and the domination of one model over all others, coupled with a dearth of ideas. Europe has a multitude of languages, traditions and cultures, the essence of which it cannot afford to deny, erasing all this wealth in the name of a so-called globalised civilisation. Even in the immense melting pot of the United States, the traditions originating from cultural diversity nowadays justify their own specificity. Europe is not a melting pot, and it would be absurd for it to mimic one now. On the contrary, Europe can succeed in turning the road to the future into a road towards creativity and culture. Culture – not as an opposite of civilisation, but as a deeper, inner dimension of a modern, truly democratic shared civilisation.
The basis of the European Union’s common foreign and security policy remains soft power: using diplomacy (supported, where necessary, by trade, aid and peacekeeping) to solve conflicts and bring about international agreement. Cultural diplomacy, oft touted in the European Union’s official statements, was not supported by a thorough analysis of the particular mentalities of national and ethnic communities. One of the recent consequences of this fact was that the Union failed to anticipate the Arab Spring and its consequences; for, after 1990, it chose to only superficially address the history of anti-Communist revolutions in the former Soviet-dominated space and the characteristics of the transition to democracy in the Balkans, the Caucasus and, later, Iraq. That is the consequence of decision-makers focusing on political and military topics, neglecting to understand the difficult processes inherent in changing mentalities rooted in an old cultural history. Cultural diplomacy can no longer be seen as an exclusive instrument for promoting foreign policy interests , but rather as a basis for promoting international cooperation and partnership, through a joint venture that brings together diverse and independent non-state actors. Therefore, cultural diplomacy implies dual-purpose action, meant not only to establish a cultural presence but also to safeguard the way in which the Other (person or nation) recognises and accepts this presence, in order to foster a form of understanding that transcends stereotypical images.
The political and cultural borders of Europe
At a time when discussions regarding the European Union tend to slide towards derision, it is the duty of the academic milieu to continuously analyse the evolution of a United Europe’s civilisational structure, on the basis of interconnected territorial models (Mediterranean, Pontic, Baltic, Continental), of confessional structures (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox), and of linguistic spaces (Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Slavic). Their syntheses point not only to differences, but also to stunning affinities. 
Without attempting to stir vanity or patronise other cultures, Europe needs to identify its shared roots, just as the great Eastern civilisations do in their own cultural space. The Greeks invented politics and democracy; the Romans systematised laws and state institutions, which were ultimately crystallised in the Byzantium through the Code of Justinian, while Judeo-Christianity created an ideological and cultural solidarity that has lasted for millennia. It is on these foundations that the European identity that we know today, as well as a significant part of the global culture and civilisation, was built. A recalibration of interest towards the Levant – the cradle of science, cultural diversity and European beliefs –, a move facilitated by the Balkans’ and Eastern Europe’s EU integration, can reinforce the identity-based cultural foundation in our 21st century world and reshape and balance the contemporary man in a new stage of globalisation-dominated history. 
Speaking about the beginnings of the project of European economic, political and military unification, the German philosopher Husserl wrote more than 50 years ago: “We see that this is the starting point of a new type of community, one which transcends nations. Naturally, I am thinking of this spiritual entity that we call Europe. This is not just about a juxtaposition of different nations merely influencing each other by lineage, trade, or on the battlefield. This is about a new spirit, born out of the philosophy and the sciences that draw upon a freely-critical spirit which places all things on an infinite scale, reigns over humanity, and creates new, infinite ideals”. Far from being a laudator temporis acti, Husserl formulates the visionary corollary of his thesis: “Europe’s existential crisis has only two variants: Europe either disappears by becoming more and more alienated from its own rational purpose, which is its vital calling, and descends into a spirit of hatred and barbarism, or it resurges through the spirit of philosophy, thanks to the heroism of reason”
Man feeds his sense of identity from objective facts, such as his family or craft, but also from subjective facts, such as his values and ideologies. This identity is what differentiates him from all others. The identity/otherness binomial is both temporally and spatially circumscribed. We are defined by a plurality of territories, marked by our practical and leisure activities within which our daily itinerary is laid as if on a map. We are also defined by our social space, where our relationships are woven and our networks of exchange, partnership, trade or politics are created. Ultimately, we are also defined by a space created by memories and hopes, a space of imagination and dreams. To the extent to which these territories and their historical moments coincide, they are also defined in relation with alterity, with the Other, and with vicinity.
It is therefore evident that identity emerges through a constant interplay of similarity and difference, a process of dynamic evolution which is endless, incomplete, open and unfinished. Through a range of operative identifications, each actor within society participates in construction that which we understand by “us” and by “togetherness”. If we accept the definition of identity as being an open-ended opus, we can better understand its deeper meaning. The motto of the European Union, United in diversity, is predicated on the paradigm of unity. Nevertheless, throughout European history, the nation-state has remained the expression of the model of unity, while Europe itself has traditionally embraced diversity as its identity. The envisaged unity of the Union often seems to collide with the diversity of those that comprise it.
In a text too often overlooked, titled A view from afar, Claude Levi-Strauss wrote: “Cultures have the right to protect themselves from others; their admixture can often times lead to the disappearance of them all... For we cannot both share in the joys of the Other, identifying with them and continue to be different. In its complete success, a full communication with the Other condemns, for longer or shorter periods, the originality of `his` creation as opposed to `mine`”.
Overcoming these contradictions has required much time. There is a historical moment of cultural and civilisational synthesis, which Goethe did not deem as propitious in his age. To return to the tragedy I recalled at the beginning, let us remember that the son born from the union of Faust – a symbol originating from the medieval mythology of North-European Christianity – and Helena – the symbol of beauty in the ancient mythology of Mediterranean Greece, the child Euphorion, falls into the void and dies when audaciously attempting to climb heights he was not prepared for.
Yet for a “European identity” there is not only a “too soon”, but also a “too late”. This is a question we must ask ourselves, prior to taking on a “global identity” without first reinforcing our European identity.
Where do the limits of the European cultural identity, seen as a whole in relation to other cultural identities, lie in our contemporary globalised world? How far does a ‘Spiritual Europe’ range? These limits do not coincide with those of a political Europe, economic Europe or military Europe, each of which are predicated on different principles and interests and which, in my opinion, will not coincide either in the near future, nor even in the distant future.
Analyzing the political expansion projects of Peter the Great and of Lenin respectively, we notice that in order to push his political and military borders towards the West, Peter the Great moved the borders of Western civilisation towards the east, upon Russian territory, thus generating a powerful cultural effervescence. In turn, in order to drive his political and military borders deep into the heart of Central Europe and perhaps the entire world, Lenin likewise moved Western-European Marxism eastwards, thereby making Soviet Russia its ideological centre.
Three centuries on from the project of Peter the Great and almost one hundred years after Lenin’s own project, we can say that political and military borders have proven to be more fragile than cultural borders. From this unexpected relation, the European project itself retained a dilemma that it avoids tackling head-on: on one hand, the impossibility to achieve Russia’s political integration, as that would mean that the political identity of the European Union would be lost; and on the other , the impossibility to separate the Russian cultural space from its European counterpart, as that would affect the very cultural identity of Europe. We may be terrified at the prospect of European literature bereft of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pasternak, Bulgakov or Solzhenitsyn; at the sound of music without Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich or Prokofiev; at the image of art without Repin, Aivazovsky, Kandinsky, Chagall – all fundamental pillars of European cultural identity.
This is why I believe that the Europe of the future will evolve as a complex system, with a variable geometry, in which a political, economic and spiritual union can all reinforce one another, without overlapping in form or content.
The challenges of multiculturalism inside and outside the European Union
Multiculturalism may well represent a final shelter against globalisation’ inerrant deviation towards standardisation and cultural assimilation. Especially through mass media, audio-visual productions, but also through the more treacherous modality of electronic information networks, mankind created and is developing a system of inducing preferences and behaviours which ultimately leads to a standardisation of behaviours down to the most intimate level of private life.
The world today appears to be dominated by mass culture on a planetary scale, which tends to consolidate the supremacy of audio-visual communication up to the very elimination of the written word. This form of globalisation is the very reason why a new type of engagement must emerge. Otherwise, we are at risk of eventually coming to believe that we all have to speak the same language, wear the same clothes, contend that the mankind’s cultural heritage is of no use to any of us any longer, that the only things that truly matter are action and money. And moreover, that we should definitely not waste our time thinking or meditating any longer. This tendency to ignore values both traditional and modern, as well as the promotion of counter-models will form human beings in the same image, but at the very real risk of devaluing the human being itself.
The return to tradition, the continuous rediscovery of the profound essence of ancient peoples like the old Europeans and, on the other hand, the recognition and affirmation of the autonomy of the individual constitute key points for our future evolution. In fact, the issue of this double condition is the very key by which multiculturalism can succeed at all. Thus, reconnecting Europe to its cultural traditions will prove that the past can be successfully capitalised upon, and that tradition and modernity can work together in a positive relationship.
The most remarkable proof of the positive capabilities of multiculturalism, when properly managed politically, is the European construction process itself, which sought to capitalise on the positive lessons of history and learn from the drama and suffering of Europe during the Second World War – a drama driven, to a large extent, by the violent assertion of racial and ethnic preeminence. Since then, Europeans have learned that they need to provide nations with new unifying markers, as well as and a different dimension that allows people to act as true citizens who deeply believe in the political ideal of human rights and democratic freedoms that are guaranteed by law.
The Union’s multiculturalism is not a mechanism by which national identities are to be annihilated or subsumed; rather, it is humanity’s last-resort shield against globalisation’s pull towards standardisation and cultural assimilation. In a society based on consumption and competition, we need to highlight the value of our cultural traditions, so that, as stated above, tradition and modernity can work together in a positive relationship. The true beneficiary of the European project is not the group of member states, but the individual himself, who is the ultimate and most valuable recipient of European policies.
In a Europe devoid of centre and periphery, a novel approach to European heritage should seek to build a knowledge and defence system that no longer takes into account power hierarchies and traditional preferences. In this, we might be able to discover not only the heritage of some smaller countries, which we could now call, culturally speaking, a `second Europe`, but also unearth great local cultural values, some of which may be lesser-known even in the country in question – thereby uncovering `third Europe`.
I am deeply convinced that the cultural dimension or, more precisely, multicultural models, will provide the true foundations that will be able to secure a leading position for Europe in tackling the challenges of the future. As a matter of fact, the European Union’s success in the political contest of the third millennium will greatly depend on its capacity to restructure and expand by including several distinct cultures and experiences whose historical subject are the nations of Central and South-Eastern Europe. I have in mind not only the deep cultural traditions of this region, the Central-European and the Slavic-Byzantine tradition, but also the recent experiences of resistance against totalitarianism and the spiritual aspirations of populations forced to live in closed societies, alienated from the rest of the world and almost forgotten by them.
Nonetheless, multiculturalism is not without its own set of hazards, dangers which, as a matter of fact, fall into a similar logic – although in opposite terms – to the logic that underpins the pull of globalisation. The first and most pressing of these dangers is to exclusively anchored oneself in the life and on the values of one community in particular, while overlooking other communities and ignoring the role of a rule of law designed to ensure society’s consistency and unity. There is but one step from this arrogant, defiant self-isolation to the brutal and aggressive assertion of the autonomous rights of minority groups. Extremely dangerous, especially if we also consider the risk of perpetuating conflicts from one generation to the next.
Multiculturalism can and must be experienced in terms of a deep respect for diversity, as a way of accepting pluralism into identity-based traditions, as a form of solidarity governed by continuous respect for national and European laws concerning human rights and the freedom of individuals.
I hold a strong belief that, eventually, the true subject for whom this multiculturalism should be beneficial is neither the group nor the minority, but rather the individual, the citizen who can articulate with dignity the identity of the community they belong to, with its national values, and with the universal values that bring us together.
Towards a Europe of citizens
No model can today claim to provide the sole solution to a problem. As a European intellectual, it is far from me to consider the European Union as such a unique model; I find it rather to be a source of inspiration, and I believe that viewing the European project through a critical lens is always a necessity.
The Treaty of Amsterdam was underpinned by a generous idea – “we unify persons, not states”. This is a governing principle that has proven to be difficult to translate into reality. May we now, 24 years later, ask ourselves why? One answer appears to come from the latest economic, political and, now, health crisis, which highlighted a rift between the current, globalised political and economic system and the cultural model that defined it at its inception. The rift between the real economy and the speculative economy on the one hand and between bureaucratised administration and citizens on the other has damaged an element that essential for both democracy and the market economy: citizens’ trust. Can the European Union build a model not only for itself, but one capable to inspire societies in other parts of the globe, as it has done in centuries past? Far beyond merely resuming social dialogue, what is needed to regain citizens’ trustis a new cultural model, for no new political model can be successful if not preceded by and founded upon a cultural model that relies on moral values, the only ones that can foster real solidarity between the positive energies within society.
Both ancient and modern democracies were, or still are, inclined to rush into decisions and substitute invectives for a careful judgement. This is why democracy needs citizens who can think for themselves, rather than individuals who merely submit to authority. Scientific education produces sophisticated scientists and technicians, but only the human sciences – although apparently unproductive – are able to maintain the democratic spirit alive. Citizens who nurture knowledge will see themselves not merely as citizens of regions or local communities, but also as people connected to all other human beings, through mutual recognition and interests.
The idea of being a citizen of the world, kosmopolites, has two convergent points of origin – that of the Stoic philosophy of the ancient Graeco-Roman world, and that of universal religions, beginning with Christianity. This concept had a formative influence on the greatest European minds, in the established tradition of philosophical Enlightenment, and on America’s founding fathers alike. In today’s multicultural and multinational world, many of our most urgent problems demand dialogue. The basic precondition for such dialogue would be that, without denying our national, ethnic, religious or professional loyalties, we should be able to recognise the value of human life wherever we find it.
In consecrating the triumph of the individual, modernity was too often understood as a dissolution of the organic bonds within the community. However, I am of the belief that, while we must internalize the undeniable positive aspects associated with the process of modernisation, we will also have and know not to ignore the natural desire of the human being to live and develop within the community to which he belongs. I also believe that we will be able to overcome the effects of a society increasingly based on excessive consumption and wild competition, and thereby understand that we will only move into post-modernity with that which we are, rather than that which we have.
My generation tends to speak of European values with reference to democracy, freedom and the equality of citizens, often using these words without thinking of their substantive essence. What does it mean to turn Europe into a participative democracy in the era of global communication? Is it to support the practice of frequent public consultations, to include electronic referenda into existing institutional mechanisms, to design an administration that is not only local or national, but European as well, one which could eventually re-organise into a form of governance in keeping with the new channels of communication?
What is the future of technical innovations, in the absence of properly developed scientific foundations? Could the transfer of technology occur in the absence of a transfer of skills necessary to make effective use of these technologies and, moreover, of a transfer of a value system capable of ensuring the proper use of such technology? Technological development puts pressure on human resources. Discovering precocious talents and managing their evolution is becoming a science, requiring the creation of new playgrounds and new players in the fields of education and research. But what would European citizenship be without European culture, including the great culture of the past, perceived as a culture of enrichment, as opposed to a culture of consumption?
What are we to do with history? The role of history in outlining European specificity would be to examine the shared traits of the various national cultures, create fundamental European events, and suggest shared memorial places in Europe. For two centuries, the cornerstone of Europe has been the nation and national identity; integrating them as part of a broader European history is no easy task. Moreover, even were we to succeed, we risk sliding into eurocentrist thinking, often denounced as at best a bias and even as an instrument of influence and domination.
We take pride, for instance, in talking about a shared European identity, based on shared values. What, then, are these values that define European identity? How can specific character and even national boundaries be overcome, yet not forgotten, on our path towards a shared identity?
The answer to these questions lies at the very heart of European projects – and of the European anxieties as well. Should we continue to elaborate projects without taking into account the inevitable anxieties that any political construction of half a billion people entails, there is little chance for us to develop a strong, democratic Europe. This is why I believe that the long road towards European solidarity must start from within each and every nation, local community and even family, where not only can we often find many of the contradictions that we describe as typical of the discrepancies between the global North and South, East and West, but also identify the identarian bonds of a shared ethos. That is how we can gain a better understanding of the world we live in.
At the end of 2020, the European Parliament commissioned a survey of European citizens which showed a 10% increase in the number of citizens who expressed a positive opinion about the EU, with the protection of human rights and solidarity between member states ranking foremost among respondents’ concerns. We cannot overlook the fact that this increase from 40% to 50% merely engages half of our citizens’ trust, but also that citizens’ confidence in the European Union is greater than in their own national governments. Commenting on these answers, in February 2021 David Sassoli – the president of the European Parliament – declared: “The message of this survey is clear: European citizens support the European Union and perceive the EU as the right framework to look for solutions to the crisis. However, the Union’s reform is definitely something that citizens wish to see, and for this reason we must launch the Conference on the Future of Europe as soon as possible.”
In this context, I believe it is time for the academic milieu and scientists to decidedly engage in a debate on the future of the European Union. The Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilisation is prepared to host such a debate on its platform, “The present as an anticipation of the future”, encouraging a comprehensive analysis capable of tackling the interlinked issues of economics, society, culture, education and morals and of developing a strategy that can capitalise on scientific and technological progress within an ethical and moral framework.
A direct involvement in politics is not on my mind. The 1989-1990 moment, when the intellectual elites of Eastern Europe mobilised millions of people who put an end to dictatorial regimes and to the Cold War, remains a unique juncture in history. In my opinion, the phenomenon of freed peoples who chose to elect university rectors, writers, philosophers and scientists to be their first democratic heads of state and government cannot be repeated in the 21st century. And, although they can no longer take part as players, the top representatives of the contemporary academic milieu are nevertheless called upon to be the coaches and arbiters of the political game.
There can indeed be a fruitful concert between the academic and political spheres. In order to respond to the challenges of a time of swift change, politics can take inspiration from science and organise itself around respect for a set of shared values: authentic, balanced dialogue that favours the exchange of ideas; respect for truth, and so on. The academic milieu can be viewed as a precursor and a model of cooperation bereft of ostracism and disparagement. Intellectual solidarity can serve as a foundation for building a new political architecture of the European Union.
Is there anything that the academic environment can learn from politics? Most certainly. The successes, and especially the failures, of the political environment can teach the academic milieu prudence in elaborating political, economic and social projects that are not backed by solid impact studies and whose implementation is delegated to others outside of its sphere. The experience of statesmen can teach scholars and scientists alike what it means to be liable for decisions that concern the life and freedom of millions of people.
This is a debate I am very much interested in, given that as an educator, civic advocate and, later, statesman I internalised many of the answers to questions the citizens of Europe are asking themselves right now. I truly believe in the future of Europe, and I trust the capacity of the European youth to design and build the Europe of tomorrow.
The concept of Weltanschauung, by which German philosophers understood that each era had its own way of seeing and understanding the world, remains useful to this day – especially if we view it as a Gestalt der Weltanschauung, where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This concept best corresponds to what politics should be in the society of knowledge and in the globalised world of the future: a complex view of the future, predicated on a novel dialogue about human values.
My generation enlarged the Europe that our parents had founded, bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now is the hour in which a new generation must take up and enhance European values, bringing them level to their aspirations. This new generation may well build a new destiny, not only for our countries and for Europe, but for the entire world.
 Hans Peter Schwarz (ed.), „Konrad Adenauer, Rede 1917-1967 Eine Auswahl.” Stuttgart, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1975.
 Robert Schuman, „Pour l'Europe”, Nagel Publishing House, Paris, 1963, p 106.
 Wilfried Martens, „O Europă și cealaltă”, Metropol Publishing House, Bucharest, 1995.
 A severe criticism on the difficulties that the current Romanian society is facing in harmonising with European policies and standing up to the challenges of globalism, while lacking its own vision, can be found in “România în Europa actuală”, Creator Publishing House, Brașov, 2019.
 Cees Nooteboom, „De ontvoering van Europa”/„Răpirea Europei” (The Rapture of Europe), Atlas Publishing House, Amsterdam, 1993.
 For a synthesis of the influences of the Latin West and the Byzantine East on Romanian identity, see Ioan Aurel Pop, Romanians and Romania: A Brief History, New York, 1999.
 Ortega y Gasset, „Revolta maselor”, Bucharest, Humanitas Publishing House, 1994, 2002, 2007.
 Zbigniew Brzezinski “The Grand Chessboard – American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives”, Basic Books, advision of Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., New York, 1997.
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 Dong Wang (2015), Is China Trying to Push the US out of East Asia? China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies, World Century Publishing Corporation, Singapore.
 Daojiong Zha (2015), China’s Economic Diplomacy: Focusing on the Asia-Pacific Region, China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies World Century Publishing Corporation, Singapore.
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 For details, see „Jocurile minții” in Emil Constantinescu, Nicolae Anastasiu, „Resurse minerale ale României. Vol. I. Minerale industriale și roci utile”, Editura Academiei Române, Bucharest, 2015.
 In Prolegomena to „Uniunea Europeană în contextul unei lumi în schimbare. Fundamente istorice, valori, instituții, politici” (“The European Union in the Context of a Changing World. Historical Grounds, Values, Institutions, Politics), Nicolae Păun (coordinator) mentions the need to differentiate between the ancient transnational civilisations, such as the Hellenic or the Roman civilisation; the national civilisations of global impact (French, Spanish, British, Portuguese); the national civilisations with low international impact (German, Dutch, Russian); regional “junction” civilisations (Scandinavian, South-East-European, Baltic, Austrian/Central-European) deriving from the very geography of the continent and the option that the inhabitants of those spaces had over time.
Emil Constantinescu, “Rediscovering the Levant: An Opportunity for 21st Century Western Civilization. The motive and mission of an Institute for Levantine Studies in Romania” in „The International Journal of Levant Studies, vol. 1/2019”, Bucharest University Publishing House, Bucharest, 2020.
 Edmund Husserl, The Vienna Lecture Philosophy end The Crisis of European Humanity in the Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Nord-Western University Press, 1970.
 Claude Levi-Strauss, „Le regard éloigné”, Plon Publishing House, Paris, 1983.
 Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts, Official Journal C 340, 10/11/1997, P. 0001 – 0144, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A11997D