The hemicycle and the guest stands of the European Parliament in Strasbourg were filled to practically the last chair to say goodbye to its president David Sassoli, who died suddenly last Tuesday at the age of 65.
The leaders of the community institutions and the French president, as well as the prime ministers of Italy, Luxembourg, Greece, Croatia and Malta and the presidents of several European national parliaments, including the Spanish Meritxell Batet, clothed the widow and her two children of Sassoli in this ceremony.
Kindness is a strength and never a weakness
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, shared his memories.
“Of our cooperation, of the moments we spent together, I keep, dear David, precious memories. Moments that show that kindness is a strength and never a weakness. Moments that show that you had a constant concern to unite people, to turn us together towards the future, for also inspiring new ideas for Europe”
The sacrifice of the Italian during the pandemic who chose to confine himself to Brussels, away from his family, and keep the European Parliament open was praised; opening, even, the buildings of the institution to the most vulnerable such as battered women, and donated menus to homeless people and health personnel.
“It is better to get angry and argue in peace”
The elegy before the hemicycle was given by former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who evoked his great friend as a person who “had that great gift of looking beyond, knew that he should not stop at appearances” and dedicated his life to “give the word to those who have no voice”.
“Europe is union in diversity, words that for David were not a rhetorical slogan. Diversity is the great wealth of our continent. And this requires hard and patient work,” continued Letta, who recalled that Sassoli himself was convinced that, although such work can create anger, “it is better to get angry and discuss in peace.”
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who could not be present at the ceremony due to her driver’s positive covid, shared on social networks the speech she would have given before the hemicycle, in which she highlighted the passion of the Italian for causes such as the defense of the rule of law, solidarity and dignity as the main values of European migration policy and the rights of the LGTBIQ+ collective.
“Heart and ambition”
For his part, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, recalled the words that Sassoli himself had spoken in his investiture speech in the summer of 2019, “heart and ambition”.
“The Europe that he defended is united – (with a) solidarity between its citizens and among its members. The Europe that he defended is strong – with the force of unity. At the same time, he organized and pacified this chamber, confronted ideas, never people,” stressed the French Head of State.
After the homage of Emmanuel Macron, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union this semester, the European anthem was played, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Hymn of Joy for a politician whom everyone remembers with an eternal smile.