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Happy Christmas
Joyeux Noel   Frohe Weihnachten   Urime Krishtlindjet   шчаслівага Нараджэння
Sretan božić   Щастлива Коледа   Veselé Vánoce   Καλά Χριστούγεννα
BՈւրախ Սուրբ ծնունդ   Glædelig jul   Häid jõule   Hyvää joulua  
Boldog Karácsonyt   Nollaig Shona   Buon Natale   Priecīgus Ziemassvētkus  
Srećan Božić   Linksmų Kalėdų   Среќен Божиќ   Wesołych Świąt  
Feliz Natal   Craciun Fericit   Feliz Navidad   Счастливого Рождества   
God Jul   Gleðileg jól   ბედნიერი შობა   Veselé Vianoce   Vesel božič
Mutlu Yıllar   Щасливого Різдва

We send warm greetings to all for a happy and joyful Christmas holiday.   
We look forward to working with many partners throughout Europe in the New Year.

Carol-singers in Prahova County, Romania                             by courtesy of Magdalena Banu, ECOVAST Romania

Peace, and refugees

A moving aspect of the ERP 2015 Gathering in Schärding was the presence in that town of many hundreds of Syrian and other refugees, stopping overnight on their way to cross the border into Germany.   The European Rural Manifesto, in face of the great movement of refugees into Europe, expressed our reaction to their suffering :
“While urging governments and other agencies to work urgently to solve the underlying causes of this crisis, we call for a warm-hearted response, based on solidarity between peoples.  We believe that for many rural areas, and particularly those with declining populations, this offers an opportunity to integrate refugees and other newcomers.  The process of integration must include the necessary job creation, investment in housing, services and infrastructure.  Successful integration efforts should be celebrated.” 
An intimate expression of this warm-hearted response was experienced directly by Hannes Lorenzen (chairman of PREPARE) and Juliette Major of IATP on their way home from the Gathering.  This experience provoked them to write a moving article, pleading for a non-violent solution to the conflicts which impel the flow of refugees.  This article, “Understanding the Nature of Peace”, can be found in full on the ARC 2020 website (  The extract from it below expresses the sense of warm-hearted solidarity which we called for in Schärding. 
“On our way back home from the European Rural Parliament, we were confronted with a real human experience.  Having left Schärding in Austria, where the citizens Parliament was held, we shared the crowded train from Passau to Munich with many refugees.  We experienced the grace of heartfelt and practical kindnesses – the common humanity – offered to them by European passengers and train personnel on the crowded journey.  Most refugees were totally lost, without European languages, without tickets, and sometimes even without a clear destination.  Conductors patiently ascertained what languages they spoke, and arranged help by volunteer translators speaking Arabic and the many other languages needed.  Cell phones were passed back and forth between refugees and passengers, as refugees contacted friends and family.  And always, between and among refugees and those reaching out to them, eye contact, smiles, the touch of a hand, the offering of comfort to people suffering months of flight and insecurity.”
We pray for determined efforts to build peace in 2016, and to help refugees to find a viable life.

Death of Eero Uusitalo

We report with sorrow the sudden death of our highly valued friend Eero Uusitalo, who until very recently was president of the Finnish Village Association SYTY, and the leading figure in rural development policy and action in Finland.   He was a great man, and a powerful leader in securing a nationwide, comprehensive and integrated approach to rural development in Finland … thereby creating an example which is much admired around Europe and has influenced the approach in other countries.   Particularly striking was his recognition of the importance of both narrow and broad rural development*, the creation and work of the Rural Policy Committee, the nationwide pattern of LEADER-type local action groups (making resourceful use of European and national funds), and his leadership of SYTY.   We also recall his support for the creation of the European Rural Alliance, which led on to the creation of the European Rural Community Alliance (ERCA) and to the European Rural Parliament initiative now being pursued by ERCA, PREPARE and ELARD. 
We send to Eero’s family and to his wide network of friends and colleagues in Finland the warm collective condolence of the European Rural Parliament family, and our strong appreciation of Eero’s personality and his contribution to national and European life.  

*’narrow’ rural development includes the types of activity funded within national rural development programmes, while ‘broad’ rural development embraces all the other public policies and programmes which affect rural well-being, such as education, health, social services, transport, water supply etc. 
Copyright © 2015 European Rural Parliament, All rights reserved.

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