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‘David Sassoli fought for democracy, respect for human dignity’

By Oluwaseun Sonde

President of European Commission EU, Von Der Leyen has said that Late European Parliament President, David Maria Sassoli during his lifetime fought for the values of anti-fascism, democracy, respect for human dignity.

EU President who made this known on Monday, while delivering her speech at the occasion of the memorial ceremony of the late European Parliament President, David Sassoli who died at 65 years of age in an Italian hospital last week.

Von Der Leyen recalled David’s very first speech as President of the Parliament. “He spoke about the White Rose and I quote: ‘The European Union is not an accident of history. Our history is built on Sophie and Hans Scholl’s desire for freedom, on their pain and their desire of fraternity.

“We are not an accident of history, but the children and grandchildren of people who found the antidote against nationalism.’ Indeed, we are the children and grandchildren of that White Rose. This is also what Europe meant to David Sassoli. This is what he believed in.

“He believed that our Union of European nations is the answer to centuries of war on our continent. He believed in our responsibility to be faithful to our history. And he always lived up to this responsibility. Last summer, David asked me to join him on a visit to the former concentration camp of Fossoli, in Italy.

“A place where Nazi soldiers slaughtered tens of Italian partisans fighting for our collective freedom. David Sassoli had a special connection to that place. After the war, a man called David Maria Turoldo, a Catholic friar who had joined the Resistance, turned the concentration camp into a shelter for war orphans”.

She noted that it was his passion for Europe and democracy that drove him in his daily work as President of the European Parliament. “That is why he was so keen on protecting democracy and the rule of law in each and every country of our Union.

“That is why he fought so hard to treat migrants with dignity and solidarity, and to always put human life first. That is why, as a devout Catholic, he supported LGBTI rights and everyone’s freedom to love whomever they wanted.

It was David Sassoli’s love for democracy, not just his long career in journalism, that made him fight for media freedom and the protection of journalists. Everyone in this Parliament knows that President Sassoli never shied away from defending Europe against those who talk it down”.

Von Der Leyen stated that David was never satisfied with Europe as it is. He wanted Europe to strive for more, to get closer to the founders’ dream. “David was a man of vision, a dreamer and a maker. And he made our Union progress so much during his mandate as President of this Parliament.

“When the pandemic hit, David dared to take unprecedented decisions to keep our democracy up and running. He allowed for virtual votes, to keep you safe and keep the Parliament working. Because you are the voice of Europe’s people. And democracy is government of the people, for the people, and by the people”.

She further said David was a kind man, who did not lose his smile, even during these last, difficult months. “Someone who entered politics for passion, not power, in a spirit of true service to the common good. In these days, people from all sides of the political spectrum pay tribute to David Sassoli.

“His passion and his honesty shine through political divides. David Sassoli was a good man. ‘Il presidente buono’, as someone called him. And David was a good friend. But today, I would like to remember him first and foremost as a passionate European, a man whose beliefs were shaped by Europe’s history, and a visionary whose blue eyes always looked towards the future and a better Europe.

“In his own words: ‘When all the walls will fall, when the spirit of nationalism will fade away, then let us enjoy the beauty of being Italian, without feeling separated and divided from others, what will there be at the end of the path? There will be Europe.”

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