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The Slovaks, Olli Rehn and the EU continuing failures
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-08-16 08:13:19
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As it is normal I suppose, when I browse the news and if I see something about Greece I check twice most of time even reading the whole article. And it was the same this time and started with an news-agency focusing on EU mainly news. A six hundred words article about the Slovak parliament’s refusal to support the financial help to Greece. Then I read an English agency, a French agency to end up with a German and of course I gone through the mainstream agencies like BBC and CNN.

All of them kept the same motive, the Slovaks voted against the help to Greece making somehow angry the European partners and that was the first 20 words, the rest of the articles were all about what the rest of the European partners said with the Finnish Olli Rehn, the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, leading to all the statements. Fine, I’m Greek and I don’t want to see my country financial destroyed but do we miss something here?

The European Union is based strictly in the democratic unity and equal acceptance between the partners and in the respect to each ones individuality or the uniqueness therefor all decisions have to be unanimous. Forty years of active unity the ties between the members - old and new - are just too many and no country can do something ignoring the others. No EU member can wake up tomorrow and make a military act without asking the rest, no EU member can tomorrow decide that the rouble is better than the Euro and no one can become a member without the approval of all and every single one member. The reasoning is that every single decision affects all the member states like the domino effect. And they all knew that before signing in.

There are a lot of EU member states that would be much happier if they didn’t have to sign this financial help package to Greece with Germany leading that block and if they did sign it, it was because decisions and events have an immediate effect to the rest of the European countries and chancellor Angela Merkel obviously felt that it was too risky to refuge the help. The point is and that that’s how democracy works, that the member states and especially the EU administration should have explained to the Slovak people why they should help and their explanation should have been logical with the right points emphasized. Obviously that didn’t happen. Obviously EU failed to that and now they try to excuse their failure by blaming the Slovaks.

But this is not the first time, the last three years the member states and the EU administration have acted in a way that does leave some warnings about bulling and undemocratic behaviour. The Slovak republic, the Slovak parliament and the Slovak government have every right to take any decision they like for the good of the Slovak people and if they are wrong as I pointed before then persuade them, talk to them not starting all those unexplained blaming games after. Actually despite the fact that Greece really needed this help at least in its political level – that EU failed to give on time – I think that the excuse the Slovaks used is absolutely fair. They said that their country is in a serious economic crisis and their reality is not far from the one Greece is in at the moment so how could they find those hundred millions the partners were asking. When you have to cut from schools and hospitals you can not play it a charity.

But as I said this was not the first time the EU administration and member states act this way. Two years ago all of them gone wild with Ireland nearly calling them traitors because they didn’t approve the European constitution and they rejected the European further expansion.  As a European citizen I felt embarrassed the way they treated this country and now again while reading what Olli Rehn had to say about the Slovak parliament’s decision. These people must learn that they are there to serve and not to rule and bully.

Olli Rehn and the rest of the gang in Brussels are really missing the point. Actually their job in Brussels is to defend the Slovak’s rights to have an opinion, express it and act on it. They are there to defend every single member’s right to be unique in the whole and make sure that the rules that keep this union are in practice and respected.

The European Union is in a crisis a decade now, a crisis that gets deeper and deeper with every step. It started with the invasion to Iraq when EU was nearly split in two with old and new Europe – it depended who was under the Bush’s boots – continued with the crisis in Lebanon showing that the foreign policy of the union had failed. Then it came the crisis of the expansion and the constitution where it shown failure to understand the affect it would have to the citizens of this continent; a failure of domestic policy to be  followed by the financial crisis which shown failure to predict the problems and act when they raised before taking gigantic dimensions. Which shown failure of economic program and political unity. Consistently (?) in two out of those three cases you will find the name of Olli Rehn to hold the main stage.

He was a bully in the Turkish membership issue – partly becoming responsible for the crisis then - when he was responsible for the expansion he is responsible for the economics now when the EU failed to protect its citizens. But Olli Rehn is not alone, he is a member of an administration that has missed the point that I mentioned before, they are not there to rule the European Union and make true their petit dreams, they are there to serve the European citizens and one more time they have failed tremendously.

Coming finally to Greece and after having seen what the IMF and Union’s help brought to the Greek people I think the government can stop this financial occupation and dictatorship even this minute. You might say how I didn’t know before but I thought that’s why we put those experts to run the country because they know, it is their job and the main reason they were elected there. So I’m excused to misjudge the solution but they are not. And the same comes to the Slovak government which very correctly took the decision not to support the plan despite all the bulling.

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Emanuel Paparella2010-08-16 16:01:57
Indeed, Thanos, this sad political-economic-spiritual predicament in the EU must have Dante, who dreamt of a European Union in his De Monarchia, turning in his grave. On the other hand, Dante could have easily predicted some 800 years ago that a union based only on common currency and common defense and soccer games and common banks and a hedonistic way of life is a union built on sand.

It could in fact have been predicted by the founding fathers of the EU who had a more nuanced cultural-spiritual vision of what it means to be a European and understood that it is like putting the cart before the horse to form a political union devoid of a clear vision of its cultural identity.

It was also predicted by a former Pope (John Paul II) some twelve years ago. In a speech delivered at the European Parliament on October 11 1988 he forcefully forewarned the EU with these words which now sound almost prophetic: “If the religious and Christian substratum of this continent is marginalized in its role as inspiration of ethical and social efficacy, we would be negating non only the past heritage of Europe but a future worthy of European Man—and by that I mean every European Man, be he a believer or a non believer.”

Those prophetic words inspired me to write a whole book on the subject titled A New Europe in Search of its Soul whose jacket appears from time to time on Ovi. The book appeared in 2005. Five years later, alas, things have not gotten any better. At this point the only thing we have left on which to hang is what Ignazio Silone used to call “the conspiracy of hope.”

I saw a glimmer of hope this summer in St. Peter Square where I heard some fifty thousand yound people sing in their different European languages but all one as European. The young are our only hope now and the sooner we, old cynical Machiavellians recognize that reality, the better it will be for all concerned.

Prof. Robert Griffin,PH.D2010-08-16 21:53:54
Interesting, valuable insights.
Addendum:Heard about the U.S. finding billions of $s of its citizens illegally stashed with UBS? Wealthy Italians just drive their capital to Lugano UBS. Other EU wealthy, I suppose, similarly evade their financial responsibilities. Is this game part of the reason for governmental budget problems?

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