Peace of Westphalia and the G7

It is a small fact without importance, between war and inflation and the energy crisis. G7 foreign ministers gather in Münster in Westphalia to discuss how to end the conflict in Ukraine, and in the historic Friedensaal, the Hall of Peace, the crucifix disappears. A decision taken in order not to offend the delegates who were not religious. But no one, afterwards, took responsibility for it.

The landlady, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is certainly not a kisser resented: “The cross is part of the history of this place.” The mayor, Christian Democrat Markus Lewe replied that she was removed at the request of foreign ministry officials. In Germany, afterwards, everyone protested, Evangelicals and Catholics, and even Aiman ​​Mazyek, the head of the Muslim community.

The large cross, which has been in the Friedensaal since 1540, returned to its place as soon as the G7 summit was over, after two days. No decision was reached, as was taken for granted. These periodic meetings are a useless representation, unless you limit yourself to signing what was previously decided. I am not a believer, but the cross is no longer just a religious but a cultural symbol of our Europe. When an attempt was made to arrive at a Constitution for the EU, we got stuck on the proposal to define our roots, Christian, Jewish, and even Arab (non-Muslim) for part of France and our south. However, the reminder was superfluous: European values ​​and principles are Christian. Not surprisingly, the cross would not have upset the G7 ministers gathered in Münster.

In the Friedensaal the Treaty, the Peace of Westphalia, was signed in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years ‘War, and the Eighty Years’ War, between Spain and the United Provinces, that is, today’s Holland. There were then seven signatories, an analogy with the G7 (Holy Roman Empire, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Spain, the Netherlands).

But the participants were much more, with Sweden there were representatives of the German states, a delegate from the Republic of Venice arrived, and the papal nuncio Fabio Chigi. The works began on May 16th and ended on October 24th. A short time if you think that, at the time, the delegates for each step taken had to send envoys on horseback to Madrid or Rome, to ask for consent. The Catholic countries signed in Münster, the Protestant ones shortly afterwards in nearby Onsabrück, in agreement but divided.

How can a solution be reached if the other party is missing? At Obama’s behest, Putin’s Russia was excluded from the G8. We argue in the absence of the adversary or the enemy. The Peace of Westphalia, which sanctioned the new borders and the balance of power in Europe, lasted for almost two centuries, until the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic wars. France was also present in Vienna, and the delegates in Austria Felix, despite dances and amorous intrigues, found an understanding that brought peace to Europe, for better or for worse, for some decades.

Putin was absent in Münster, and the counterpart, the American delegate awaited the result of the midterm elections, a vote decided by voters who largely ignore where Ukraine is, and the history of Europe. Many Europeans also ignore it. It would be worthwhile to go on vacation to Münster, where you can visit the Friedensaal. The city, just over 300 thousand inhabitants, has a great charm, a testimony of old Europe, it was carefully rebuilt after the bombings of the last war.

The inhabitants are half Catholic and half Protestant, and live together without problems. At the University the rectors alternate, a Catholic, then a Protestant. Here the young Ratzinger taught, from ’63 to ’66, he was much loved by the students, who gave him a bicycle. The bishop of Münster, Clemens von Galen, challenged Hitler by calling him to respect Christian principles, and the Führer did not dare to react. Raissa Gorbachev was hospitalized in Münster at the end of her life in September 1999. Her husband hoped that the German doctors could perform a miracle. This too is little news without importance.

Peace of Westphalia and the G7