I’ll confess the anniversary is not something I recall personally as I was only born eight years later, but I remember my parents telling me about the black and white pictures on the Scottish news of ‘happy’ protesters putting flowers in the barrels of guns before it turned so much worse, and of Jan Palach’s tragic protest.
Growing up, even in the far North West of Europe, the fear of political violence from the Soviet Union was never far away, especially with the UK’s nuclear weapons being based near my home town in Glasgow.
Our divided continent still has a way to heal, but when I was able to study in Warsaw I learned so much more about Central Europe and what dogma and political failure meant for the real lives of so many lovely people.
The European Union deals in values, dialogue and solidarity, not guns and tanks and bombs, and I hope our continent will be united, helping each other learn from our experiences and build a strong and happy society together.
Alyn Smith (1973) has been a Scottish National party Member of the European Parliament for Scotland since 2004. He is a member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee.