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When we missed the Copenhagen criteria When we missed the Copenhagen criteria
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-01-03 08:22:38
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Before the expansion of the European Union I among many others warned that this is not the best idea and we are going to find out why in too many levels the years to comes. The reasoning was complex and had to do with states that just came out of a very peculiar situation, enjoying for the first time after at least half a century for most of them freedom and most of them tenting turning from one side to the other just overwhelmed from their new situation.

For most of those states memories were not something of the past, conflicts and vendettas, personal vendettas sometimes where still alive and habits of the past difficult to overrun in a night. But the then leadership of the EU decided that it was realizable and they forced it overnight. So countries lacking basic elements of what needed to make them members of EU became not only full members but members with strong opinion and a vote that could influence serious changes. The decision for those countries was purely political and it was some kind of rewarding them fro getting rid of the former situations and freeing themselves from the soviet grasp.

But here we have two things that show the real face behind the mask. First of all these countries became “free” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they didn’t have to make any radical revolution take the arms or anything, they found out that the king was naked and they made the best use of the fact. That has nothing to do with how ready they were or not but with the fact that the king was naked and their “freedom” doesn’t matter what they want to believe nowadays started in Kremlin with Mikhail Gorbachev; sad but this is one reality they will have to accept in the future. The second fact is that Russia was freed exactly the same way they were and actually Russia went through a worst strangle the last thirty years that except surviving a dramatic change had to prove that the change happened as well.

These are two realities both the east European states and the EU leaderships seemed to miss so they awarded with a full membership with a political decision countries that escaped from a system and an influence that didn’t exist. Actually acting like that they forced the new Russian leadership to seek for its old glories and influences with a result to isolate sometimes a necessary ally if we want to see Europe prospering. Actually that’s another sad issue, Russia is far more European than Turkey, but this is another conversation.

As I said before these easts European states found in corruption and anything than democratic fundamentals could not turn into modern democracies in one night and they didn’t what they didn’t was with a little help from the European commission and the European political lobbies to hind their shit under the carpet. Hungary didn’t become an anti-democratic state threatening the freedom of press overnight; it was like that the last twenty years and if the European politicians and institutions just found out because the law that just came out then they were blind and deaf and god help us all. I suppose that has to do with the Copenhagen criteria that political decisions overlook.

Everybody was sad for the accidental death of the Polish president Lech Kaczynski but he was no angel. On the contrary adjoined with his twin brother as prime minister they took some decisions that stood in the limits of fascism and they were definitely prejudice. Does anybody think that Bulgaria suddenly became democracy’s paradise or that Romania suddenly understood what tolerance to minorities’ means? Of course things have improved and in some cases the change is impressive and dramatic for the best but that’s far from been ready and unfortunately most of them still influenced from habits of their past cannot even understand fundamental principals of the EU like members solidarity as Czech republic very recently shown us.

And yes these countries after the failure of European constitution – again for reasons that have to do with the expansion - they will become president countries of the Union like Hungary is now! And now please can somebody explain to me how you can say that the country that holds the presidency of Europe, the country that represents Europe, a defender of the human rights and freedom of speech. Period. And not the next question is, is the Hungarian government going to withdraw a law that abuses freedom of speech or they are going to become an example for more states – mainly east European – who would love to adopt laws like that?

And let’s go to the last addition of the Euro-zone, Estonia. It is natural that the Estonian people want to join the Europe, like all the east European states they are too ready to join anything that will be on the other side of their past even if that means a nudists group. The problem is if Euro was ready for the Estonians just like a few years ago if EU was ready for Estonia. A country that consists of 1.3 million Estonians and a huge number of Russians that reaches 40% of the Estonian population. A lot of them with Estonian citizenship but all of them a populated minority with minimum rights that one day soon will ask for its legal rights. I don’t judge how they found there, they are there and they are part of the social structure nobody seems to take in account.

Financially Estonia is not Tallinn. Tallinn might seem a European capital in growth but outside Tallinn things change radically, a country that tries to balance between a seriously wounded past and an effect to reorganize and all that in a system that lives in two speeds; the one of the corrupted past and the one of the modern European and the same time Estonia the last few years has shown negative growth. A country that depends financially from her two neighbours, Finland and Russia. One neighbour they want to be like and another they want to keep away but the same time depends on. And Finland might guarantee Estonian’s stability and growth and even help in …theory because at the moment Finland despite all the pompous announcements form the government is not financially better than other European states having already warned from the European commission for her foreign debt! So a euro in crisis needs another ambiguous member?

You see the minute political decisions started ignoring Copenhagen criteria and the doors are open for new members then sequences should not shock us but expect a serious political stand. Oh I’m sorry but serious political decisions demand serious European leadership and that is something the European Union definitely lacks at the moment.


   
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Emanuel Paparella2011-01-03 09:58:09
If I can pick up on the last statement on leadership, indeed, leadership has less to do with running a society as the CEO of a corporation, the way a crass Machiavellian politician such as Berlusconi conceives it, but in providing the people with a vision beyond their material creaturely comforts and then educating them on how to achieve such a vision. This is what the founding fathers of the EU had and what is so lacking in today’s so called “leaders.” Another way of saying the same thing is this: the founding fathers possessed a robust cultural identity coupled with a vision of what exactly means to be a European and how that vision, based on freedom, human rights, democracy could be a unifying cultural centripetal force holding a union of disparate people together, a force that could provide a more perfect union. Tragically, today’s politicians who wish to pass as leaders but are in fact intellectual and moral pigmies incapable of transcending petty political and economic consideration, delude themselves that somehow a common bank and common shopping malls, and common soccer games on Sunday a European makes. Which is to say, Europe in the dress of the EU, having sold its cultural birthright for a dish of lentils is now lacking a soul. But it gets even worse than that, this political entity in its sheer worship of modernity and what is trendy it is not even aware that it lacks a soul and therefore it is not even looking for it. A situation this which now endemic in the whole of Western civilization that conceives of itself superior to other civilizations because of its technological prowess but is in many way ethically challenged. I am afraid that the situation has to get worse before it gets better. The whole concept of Providence in a Vico as explained in today’s article is predicated on the notion that even when things seems to be getting worse, there is a hidden force at work within human history which derives good even from what is bad and reprehensible. Thus hope is kept alive despite it all. But hope while wishing for things as they ought to be and not as they are as Machiavelli and other practitioners of “real politik” would suggest is always based on respect for the truth or what Aristotle calls “the will to truth.? Our pigmy leaders on the other hand seem to be more enamored with Nietzsche’s will to power and therefore truth more often than not becomes another casualty of our relativistic opportunistic times. Too bad!


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