The presidents of 21 European states, including Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic of Croatia, have called on citizens to vote in the European elections later this month, saying they are of special importance for the challenge-faced Europe.
"Our united Europe needs a strong vote by the peoples. This is why we call on you to exercise your right to vote. It is our common European future that is on the ballot,” say the signatories of the joint call, the presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.
"European integration has helped to realise a centuries-old hope for peace in Europe after unbridled nationalism and other extreme ideologies led Europe to the barbarity of two world wars. To this day, we cannot and should not take peace and freedom, prosperity and well-being for granted. It is necessary that we all engage actively for the great idea of a peaceful and integrated Europe," they say.
"The 2019 elections are of special importance: It is you, the European citizens who decide which path the European Union shall follow."
"The peoples of Europe have united out of their own free will in the European Union, which is founded on the principles of liberty, equality, solidarity, democracy, justice and loyalty within and between its members. A Union which is unprecedented in the history of Europe," the presidents say.
"In these months, more than ever before, the European Union is facing profound challenges," they warn. "For the first time since European integration began, people are talking about rolling back one or more integration steps, such as freedom of movement or abolishing joint institutions. For the first time a Member State intends to leave the Union. At the same time, others call for more integration in the EU or the Eurozone or for a multi-speed Europe."
"Views on these matters differ among the citizens and governments of the Member States, as well as between us Heads of State. However, we all agree that European integration and unity is essential and that we want to continue Europe as a Union," the presidents say.
"Only a strong community will be able to face up to the global challenges of our time. The effects of climate change, terrorism, economic globalisation, and migration do not stop at national borders. We will only meet these challenges successfully and continue on the road to economic and social cohesion and development by working together as equal partners at the institutional level."