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Brussels may soon have its own Havel. Or Mandela?

5. 9. 2007 12:25
European Parliament´s new buildings need big names

Brussels - See you in Havel. This seemingly nonsensical sentence may soon become a standard greeting among the MEPs in Brussels where the new extensions of the European Parliament complex are to be baptized.

The search for a suitable name has already begun in the case of a new building known at the moment simply as D4.

Testing the waters, European Parliament recently solicited suggestions from its elected members and one of the names that came up belonged to nobody else but the former Czech president.

According to the euobserver.com, 324 MEPs - or less than half of their overall number - took part in the poll, making former German Chancellor Willy Brandt their favorite pick with more than 30 nominations.

Other names mentioned, aside from Vaclav Havel, were those of Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Olof Palme or Karol Wojtyla (pope John Paul II).

Kaczynski Twin Towers

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Names of other notable EU buildings

 Paul-Henri Spaak: Belgian statesman
 Altiero Spinelli: Italian member of the European Commission
 Louise Weiss: French journalist
 Winston Churchill: British statesman
 Salvador de Madariaga: Spanish author and diplomat
 Pierre Pfimlin: French statesman

Probably meant as a joke, somebody also came up with an idea to name both D4 and its neighboring D5 as Kaczynski Towers in honor of the twin brothers Jaroslaw and Lech who at the moment run Poland as its prime minister and president, respectively.

It seems that Mr Havel´s chances of making a permanent mark in Brussels are much more realistic. The new name for D4 is expected to be known by the end of the year.

It will be selected by a group composed of the EP´s president along with all of its 14 vice-presidents and six consultative quaestors. And the inside sources believe the time has come to honor somebody from the new member states.

Another Czech entry?

The Czech MEPs contacted by Aktuálně.cz did not have any detailed knowledge about Mr Havel´s nomination. They did, however, recall another name promoted in the past by the former Czech observer in the European Union Daniel Kroupa: Jan Palach.

The 20-year old Czech student became a household name across much of Eastern and Western Europe when he set himself on fire in January 16, 1969 in an apparent act of protest against the Soviet-led invasion which crushed the so-called Prague Spring reform attempt in August the previous year. He died of his wounds three days later.

"I am not in favor of naming buildings after living persons. I would certainly welcome the adoption of Palach´s name. He is a great symbol," said MEP Miroslav Ouzký.

From Prague to Brussels

Regardless of the Brussels name game´s outcome, there is already a representation of sorts for the Czech Republic in the European Union´s architectural nomenclature.

The joint seat of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) in Brussels bears name of Bertha von Suttner.

The Austrian novelist and radical pacifist was the first woman ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905.

Born in 1843 in Prague, she did not live long enough to see the emergence of the independent Czechoslovakia after the First World War. Luckily for her, she did not witness the madness of the global conflict either, dying just weeks before it began in 1914.

She came from the house of Kinsky, one of the oldest aristocratic dynasties tracing its roots to Bohemia, the western part of today´s Czech Republic.

autor: Blahoslav Hruška | 5. 9. 2007 12:25

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