The Decline of Europe? – European Nations Wounded by Devastated Notre Dame

Written by | Thursday, April 18th, 2019

European leaders are mourning the devastation of Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, pledging that all of Europe will contribute to its rebuilding. “Europe has been wounded. France has been wounded. Paris has been wounded,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker commented, promising EU “solidarity”. Mr. Juncker also said that all Europe was a “little bereaved”, as he reminded of the special place Paris had in the heart of Europeans: “In all of our lives, Paris is not a neutral place. It is a place that we love falling in love with again. Seeing this city in the grip of a tragedy, which is not only architectural but touches the life of the French people, being destroyed by flames is heartbreaking.”

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in turn said that the devastation of Notre Dame was a reminder that Europe was bound by something important more than treaties. Work on the famous cathedral began in 1180 and took 200 years to finish. Notre Dame has survived riots of the Huguenots, the French Revolution, Napoleon and World War II. It lost its spire once, in 1786, after its supporting structure had been weakened by centuries of weathering. In the meantime, in Moscow, some see the fire as symbolizing “the decline of Europe,” as Yelena Konchalovskaya, food editor at Russia’s The Village news magazine put it. “It’s physically painful to watch because this fire is deeply symbolic,” she added.

Authorities in Paris are still trying to piece together why the cathedral caught fire, which is largely believed to be an accident. Around 50 investigators are now involved in the investigation and around 30 employees of various companies are now being questioned, including those involved in the restoration work. The first fire alarm went off shortly after 6 pm local time but a computer put the fire’s location in the wrong place. The flames are believed to have started at the bottom of the spire.

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