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EU authoritarians' stimulus EU authoritarians' stimulus
by Thanos Kalamidas
2020-07-25 08:18:18
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While many talked about the refusal of Holland, Austria, Finland and Sweden to turn the EU stimulus into free money not many noticed a side disagreement supported even from France and aiming mainly Hungary while having eyes wide open on Poland and perhaps Croatia and Greece. They wanted to condition the upcoming stimulus with the member states’ respect to the Union’s democratic values. Of course it was Hungary and Poland to react but everybody knew that Greece and Croatia also felt cold sweat on their backs. Especially Greece.

The EU failed from its beginnings to create safeguards to protect its own values. Partly naïveté partly confidence that the continent that suffered most from two world wars and a holocaust will never repeat its own mistakes. The continent that gave birth to one of the most racist and murderous regimes in human history believe that lessons learned will never allow history repeat itself. They did though put very strict criteria for the candidate countries. But then it wasn’t enough.

orb001_400In 2004 the bloc decided to introduce the new currency and in need for a wider consuming and exchange base they took a very risky political decision, to accept ten new members with a lot of handicaps regarding the criteria and especially their respect to the democratic values EU founders treasured so much. Hungary didn’t become authoritarian from one day to another, Viktor Orbán didn’t appear out of some kind of magic and far-right, xenophobic and authoritarian Fidesz party had appeared in Hungarian politics in 1993 giving shivers to all democratic Europe with their anti-European hate talk. When Poland joined EU everybody knew that the country suffered from a political corrupted judicature and that it shared with Hungary issues regarding the freedom of press while Croatia’s stand was strongly nationalistic and xenophobic, worsen by the refugee waves the last few years. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia were not much better and ironically the only one who made some effect to reach the criteria was the less appreciated Bulgaria.

Between 2004 and 2014, thirteen counties joined EU, most of them with a lot of problems with their judicature, freedom of press, freedom of unionize, discriminations, prejudice, homophobia, xenophobia to racism and authoritarianism. More than half of them not fulfilling the criteria EU had established for a membership. Another forgotten historic lesson some remembered with Viktor Orbán was that Hitler was elected chancellor after democratic elections.

Now Kyriakos (Koulis) Mitsotakis came to join the authoritarians’ pantheon of EU with his platform include the ban of demonstrations, bullying the opposition while distracting and using judicature and of course excessive state violence with dead victims. Greece under Kyriakos Mitsotakis violently violates the EU criteria and democratic values but …what can the rest do when Hungary and Poland lay a behavioral blue print and there are no safeguards for this kind of behavior and Brexit turned everything to worse by giving voice to all the populist euro-skeptics.

Connecting the stimulus with the member states’ respect to the Union’s democratic values some states staged a desperate coup to save the union’s values but failed again. And while Hungary has been already under investigation, since 2018, for a potential “serious breach” of the European Union’s values nothing has come out yet. According to European laws the Hungarian violations include: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

The Hungarian government of course has dismissed everything while today is not standing alone. With Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Estonia, the Czech Republic and perhaps Greece they can actually form a bloc that can block a lot of EU directives and decisions. And as Viktor Orbán has proven often lately, diplomatic warnings don’t work.


           
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