The COVID-19 epidemic spread across Europe and the world, infecting millions of people and reaching hundreds of thousands of fatalities. During the most severe period of the pandemic, life stopped in most European countries with profound restrictions on the movement of people, confinements at home, commercial and industrial activity and social life reduced to historic lows.

In a word, Europe experienced (and still lives) a real scenario of war against an invisible and unpredictable enemy, which doesn’t choose ages, gender, social classes or countries.

The experience of the European Network of Places of Peace and of all the places in Europe that constitute it proves that the majority of conflicts and wars ended with the signing of Peace Treaties which, in many cases, led to periods of great political changes and great economic and social development during which peace was a fact.

However, the war against COVID-19 will not end with a Peace Treaty as we know it, and instead of development what is expected is rather a long period of economic recession and even social setback.

While it’s true that the response to the pandemic in many European countries was rapid and competent, and the respective public health services managed to halt its growth and minimize the number of infected people and fatalities, in others such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Spain, (4 of the 6 largest European economies) the response was not efficient and the number of infected and fatal victims revealed unexpected weaknesses in their health and civil protection systems, which even the solidarity shown by other more equipped countries was unable to hide.

On the other hand, it is important to highlight the exemplary role played by the vast majority of European citizens, materialized in numerous expressions of solidarity and good neighborliness, in popular mobilizations for mutual help and in the discipline of their behavior, a role that was (and is being) one of the essential factors in combating the pandemic and its immediate economic and social effects.

The European Network of Places of Peace, which includes public and private organizations representing various locations in Europe where Peace Treaties were signed, from Portugal to Romania, and is a bearer of the experience and historical memory of those places, considers this an opportunity to reinforce solidarity among all European countries, the exchange of experiences and mutual knowledge among all its peoples with the aim of responding to Europeans’ wishes for a Europe of Citizens and a Europe of Peace.

Therefore, both national governments and European institutions must work on the implementation of concrete measures that contribute to achieving this objective, namely in the field of public health, through a generalized and equitable increase in national and European health budgets, strengthening Universal and free National Health Services without prejudice to complementary private initiative, the generalized and equitable increase in all European countries in the number of beds available in hospitals as well as the European production of medical, diagnostic and treatment equipment and in support of research scientific approach to the prevention and treatment of epidemic outbreaks and chronic diseases;

In the field of education, through the introduction of educational content on this and other pandemics, on the effects of other wars but also on the effects and consequences of the Peace Treaties, educational content promoting solidarity, mutual aid and a culture of peace in all levels of education and with appropriate adaptations by age level;

in the economic and social fields, by promoting employment and income guarantees, by encouraging companies to produce European finished products, particularly in vital sectors such as health, communications and technology, by expanding or launching European programs in the areas of education and culture and, finally, the promotion of European Cultural Tourism, with a view to cultural exchange and better knowledge among European peoples.

All crises and wars have had terrible effects on the people who have lived through them, but they have also opened up opportunities for political, economic and social development and, therefore, Europe must enhance the opportunities this pandemic nevertheless also opens up.

 April 24, 2020

The Members of the European Network of Places of Peace (in a videoconference meeting)

Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral passed away on the 3rd of October 2019 and the European Network of Places of Peace at its first meeting on a European scale after his death unanimously decided to grant him the title of Honorary Member of the Association, posthumously .

He was a Licentiate and a Doctorate in Law specialized in Administrative Law and Political Science from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon, and a Cathedratic Professor in the Faculty of Law at the New University of Lisbon and was also a publicist. In 1974, some months after the Carnation Revolution, he was one of the Founders and President of then Democratic and Social Centre (CDS), a right-wing party. He led this party till 1985, and again from 1988 to 1991. He served as a Deputy to the Assembly of the Republic (the Portuguese parliament) from 1975 to 1982 or 1983, and again in 1992 and 1993. He was also a Member of the Portuguese Council of State between 1974 and 1982. In the parliamentary elections of 1979 and 1980, the Democratic Alliance (of which the CDS was a part) won a majority and formed the government, in which Freitas served as Deputy Prime Minister or Vice-Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1980 and Deputy Prime Minister or Vice-Prime-Minister and Minister of Defence between 1981 and 1983. After the death of Francisco Sá Carneiro, Freitas do Amaral was interim Prime Minister for a short period between 1980 and 1981. Between 1981 and 1982 he was also the President of the European People’s Party. He was a candidate in 1985 for the presidency in the 1986 presidential election. Supported by his own People’s Party and by the Social Democratic Party, he established a commanding lead in the first round, but lost the second round by some 150,000 votes to Mário Soares, who was endorsed by the two eliminated candidates. He was President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1995 and until 1996.

Professor Diogo Freitas do Amaral was an enthusiastic supporter of the project to create the European Network of Places of Peace since its beggining and later in its development and expansion phase:

– In December 2007, he was the main speaker for the 1st Conference on Peace organized in Évora Monte (Portugal) by  Evoramonte Castle Friendship Association and attended by a delegation of Hubertusburg  Castle Friendship Association (Germany) and which constituted the first step towards the constitution of ENPP;

– In 2008 and 2009, he supported and advised the elaboration of the general principles and specific objectives of the Network which were the basis for the elaboration of the Statutes of ENPP;

– On May 28, 2010, he participated in the association’s constitution and public deed ceremony during which he delivered an important conference on the culture of peace in the world, the importance of the peace treaties and their historical memory;

– In the following years, he closely followed the development of the Network and its expansion to other places and countries and only the health problems that had already hindered him in the meantime prevented him from participating more actively in the Association’s public initiatives;

– At the beginning of 2018, having heard of the highly negative report of the “expert” appointed by the Council of Europe on the Places of Peace Route, he drafted an Opinion on that report on his own initiative and at no cost to the Association and used his influence  at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, actions that played a major role in the favorable decision to the Route taken at the meeting of the Government of the EPA on Cultural Routes of 18 and 19 April 2018.

 

A German scientific publication, edited by the Leibniz Institute for European History, based in the city of Mainz (Germany), refers to our Association in an article by Prof. Martin Peters under the title “Places of peace in Europe – Reflections on a topography of pre-modern peace agreements”.
On page 34 of this scientific article that essentially addresses the issue of the memory of the Peace Treaties in the cities and places in Europe where were signed, the author writes that there are in Europe “… initiatives that show that the conclusion of a peace treaty in a city or municipality it is still particularly important for its history and for its self-image ”and adds that“ since 2007, there has been an initiative called “Places of Peace” founded in Évora Monte (Portugal), in which the Hubertusburg Castle Friendship Association (Editor’s note: German organization, member of ENPP) and which is committed to raising awareness of the places where Peace Treaties were signed. ”
This reference to ENPP in a scientific article by this prestigious German Institute is especially gratifying to us, in particular because the author reveals that he perfectly understood the essential genesis and content of our Network.

The city of Tartu, Estonia, is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Peace Treaty signed with Russia in the city on February 2, 1920 and which recognized the independence of the Republic of Estonia, ended the War of Independence and paved the way for the international recognition of Estonia.

The first ceasefire proposal between Estonia and Russia was submitted by Soviet Russia on 25 July 1919. The peace negotiations began in Tartu on 4 December 1919 and lasted until 2 February 1920, date in which the text of the treaty was finally approved and signed.

The Commemorations of the 100 Years of the Treaty of Tartu, organized by the local Municipality, started last December 12 with the lighting of candles in the city sites related to negotiations and signing of the Treaty and will continue until next February 2, day in which there will be several official ceremonies and a Gala Concert at the Concert Vanemuine Hall in Tartu.

The Program of these Commemorations also includes the opening of several exhibitions including the exhibition of Original Peace Treaty, information actions aimed at secondary school students, guided tours of places related to the signing of the Treaty and the launch of a € 2 commemorative coin (Tartu Peace 100 Years), among others .

The celebrated photo taken in Evoramonte, Portugal by the astrophotographer Miguel Claro (Dark Sky Alqueva, Portugal) has now received a new distinction when it is published in the January 2020 edition of the prestigious National Geographic magazine, Portuguese edition, in its section “Visions”.
In the text accompanying the photo published by National Geographic magazine (hereinafter transcribed), Miguel Claro highlights the fact that an important Peace Treaty was signed in Evoramonte and is therefore the birthplace of European Network of Places of Peace (ENPP).
“A supermoon makes its appearance behind Evoramonte’s Tower-Palace. Here was signed, on May 26, 1834, the convention that ended the only Portuguese civil war. Due to this important historical heritage, Evoramonte is also the birthplace of the European Network of Places of Peace.”

Thanks to Miguel Claro and National Geogrphic magazine.

Professor Doctor DIOGO FREITAS DO AMARAL died today in Lisbon, at the Hospital where he was hospitalized for days and a victim of prolonged illness.
The disappearance of Prof. Dr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral is a big loss for ENPP because since 2007 we started this project we have always had his support, strength and enthusiasm and his active, genuine and free participation in many of the moments that have marked the still small history of our Association, among which we highlight his presence and the conference he gave at the time of the official constitution of ENPP on May 28, 2010, as well as the important role he played in the application process of Places of Peace Route for Cultural Route of the Council of Europe, in particular in preparing an extremely important Opinion to defend the Route and its principles.
 
Prof. Dr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral was an Associated Member of the European Network of Places of Peace (http://placesofpeace.eu/network/associated-members/).
 
ENPP has already sent his deep condolences to the family of Prof. Dr. Diogo Freitas do Amaral and will be represented at the funeral.

In a joint organization of the Civil Parish of Evoramonte and the Municipality of Estremoz with the support of the Regional Directorate of Culture of Alentejo, Evoramonte celebrated on May 25th the 185 Years of the Signature of its Peace Treaty  (Convention of Evoramonte) which ended the Portuguese Civil War of the first half of the nineteenth century.

The Commemorations began at 3:00 p.m. with a concert by the Band of  Veiros Philharmonic Society followed by a visit to the recently restored quarters of the house where the Convention was signed on May 26, 1834 – the House of the Convention – where an indicative exhibition of what will be  the Interpretation Center of the Évora Monte Convention, in the near future. During this visit was announced by the Municipality of Estremoz the approval by Turismo de Portugal Institute of the candidacy presented by this autarchy, which will allow to finance the installation of this Interpretation Center.

In the Tower/palace of Evoramonte, Dr. Hugo Guerreiro, Historian and Director of the Municipal Museum of Estremoz gave a lecture under the theme “Notes on the Evoramonte Convention” in which he considered that the Convention is the “main identity element of Evoramonte” by presenting a probative list in which he included the fact that the international network ENPP (Places of Peace) has its headquarters in this Portuguese village.

The Commemorations ended with a Concert by the Band of  Veiros Philharmonic Society, in the Tower / Paço de Evoramonte.

João Carlos Chouriço, from 2005 to 2009 the Vice-President and Deputy-Mayor of the Estremoz City Council (the municipality to which Evoramonte belongs), suddenly died yesterday, February 21 .
João Carlos Chouriço was an unconditional supporter of the process of establishing of European Network of Places of Peace either personally or as Deputy-Mayor for Culture, having been the main mentor of the Protocol established at that time between the Municipality of Estremoz and LACE (League of Friends of the Castelo de Évora Monte), which proved to be an important element in the first steps of our Network, and participated in several events that led to the emergence of the Network, namely in the 2008 edition of Hubertusburg Peace Talks (Germany) and in the 1st European Meeting of the Network held on May 2009 in Evoramonte, Portugal.
The action of João Carlos Chouriço has taken on such great importance even we can say that without his help and support, the ENPP would probably not exist today, or at least, would not have the development it currently has.
Therefore, we say: Thank you, João Carlos, and we address to his whole family the deepest condolences from European Network of Places of Peace and all its members.

Last 21st April, the President of ENPP Eduardo Basso participated in the International Meeting of Historic Cafés held in the city of Coimbra, Portugal, at the invitation of Café Santa Cruz, where the event took place.
In his speech the President of ENPP explained succinctly the process of setting up our Network and the way Places of Peace Route is being implemented as well as all the process of certification of this Route as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe currently under way.
The European Historical Cafes, in addition to the reinforcement of its implementation in several European countries, has the objective of establishing a Route for certification by the Council of Europe.

Photo: Alfredo Mateus (Coimbra)

European Network of Places of Peace recently signed a Cooperation Protocol with the “Diário do Sul” Group, which publishes one of the most prestigious regional daily newspapers in Portugal and the most widely read in the entire southern region of the country. “Diário do Sul” Group also integrate a radio station (Rádio Telefonia do Alentejo) and a television channel. This Protocol, in addition to the dissemination of ENPP news and activities, will also allow the establishment of cooperation between “Diário do Sul” and other newspapers edited in places in Europe members of ENPP. The agreement was signed by Eduardo Basso and Apolónia Rodrigues by ENPP and José Miguel Piçarra by “Diário do Sul” Group.