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Aug 27, 2022
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Politico: Soap bubble of European solidarity will not burst immediately

Photo from left to right: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Photo from left to right: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo: AP/TASS)

President of France Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz unitedly oppose the “hawks” of the EU on the issue of settlement in Ukraine. Western European leaders are forced to hide from the countries of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe their position, which is to end the conflict as soon as possible through diplomacy.

But as long as US support for military action in Ukraine remains unchanged, Berlin and Paris are unlikely to begin to express their views openly. They are trying to maintain the appearance of unity within the European Union, writes Politico columnist Mujtaba Rahman. In general, Kyiv has split the EU, and support for Ukraine in the next six months may decrease.

Political scientist, professor, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Financial University Alexander Shatilov recalls that the European Union was originally conceived as an alliance of strong politically and culturally homogeneous states:

– First of all, these are the developed countries of Western Europe, such as Germany and France. Perhaps the exception was Greece, which, as the “cradle of European civilization,” was considered wrong not to be included in the European Union.

And then the leaders of the EU went into all serious trouble, began to include in the European Union everyone they missed: the Baltic states, and Bulgaria, and Romania. As a result, at the moment the European Union is a very loose and internally conflicting, fragmented entity. There is no need to talk about unity and consolidation. Moreover, a number of EU subjects are more focused on Washington than on Brussels, following the instructions of the United States to a greater extent than their own leadership.

“SP”: – This is primarily Poland, as well as the Czech Republic, Romania and so on. These countries are a kind of “fifth column” of the United States within the European Union …

– Well, plus everything else, there are cultural contradictions that have a very serious impact on the split within the European Union. Most of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe that joined the EU later than others, the neophytes, gravitate towards traditional values ​​more than the countries of Western Europe. They have long reformatted and replaced the cultural code of the population and especially their elite. Therefore, contradictions periodically arise between them on issues of various kinds of tolerance, all sorts of LGBT communities and everything else.

Well, some EU countries, let’s say, have certain ambitions. Take the same Hungary or Poland. They periodically oppose, taking advantage of the fact that official Brussels cannot seriously punish them. Budapest and Warsaw often take an alternative position, and even directly opposite to the official course of the EU.

“SP”: – It is curious that the observer Mujtaba Rahman names only Macron and Scholz by name, and those who oppose them – Eastern European and other political figures – are nameless. Most likely to his American readers of Politico magazine it’s hard to remember all these “different other Swedes”.

Geography is a weak point for Americans. They are very egocentric. They are not interested in any “untermensch”, and they consider themselves superhuman. Germany and France are something more or less familiar, and where any Bulgaria or, God forbid, Croatia is located is very difficult for them. Therefore, such a relatively simplified style of presentation of the material was chosen.

“SP”: – And the author also recalls such a Latin expression “great unknown” or magnum ignotum, saying that the changing trajectory of public opinion regarding support for Ukraine cannot be predicted. But is this an unknown phenomenon, if not observed from across the ocean? We know that the government of the Italian Draghi has already retired, and in France Macron has lost support in the National Assembly. Europeans consistently vote against the threat of hunger and cold.

– So far, European society has not tasted all the “charm” of this. Many believe that this is some kind of abstract threat that can be removed. But if real cold weather sets in, real shortages of food begin and food is issued on cards, then this can lead to certain shocks.

But Europeans, especially Western ones, have been bent quite strongly over the past thirty years. Democracy there is purely abstract, emasculated. They also know the technology of influencing the voting result. They also learned how to suppress street protests very clearly.

Therefore, it is difficult to say how much this will lead to some kind of political upheaval, or whether citizens will quietly sob by the extinguished fireplace …

It would not be superfluous to point out that Mujtaba Rahman writes the column “Beyond the Bubble”. This refers to the bubble in which the Americans live, to whom everything that is outside the walls of their bubble is seen as distorted, blurred and changing. Therefore, the conflict in Europe looks like a confused dead end.

But even if high-ranking EU officials admit that a “critical moment” is likely to come in the fall or early winter, and EU countries “begin to feel acute pain” because of the crisis, then all this can be trusted. But the Europeans will be asked to tighten their belts even more to support the Ukrainian economy and military operations.

The President of France, “Papa” Macron, is already warning his population that the conflict in Ukraine will last for a long time and the difficulties now being experienced are only the beginning. But France “will continue to provide Ukraine with military, financial and humanitarian assistance until victory is achieved on terms acceptable to Kyiv.” After all, if Monsieur Emmanuel does not repeat this, then he will be quickly removed from the stage.

So there is a quiet tug-of-war between Germany, France on the one hand, and Poland, the Baltic and Scandinavian countries on the other. Until recently, before the fall of the government of the Italian Mario Draghi, he puffed, helping his Western European colleagues. But what is said in public is one thing, and the private views of President Macron or Chancellor Scholz are another. These views are very different from those of the more hawkish alliance members in Central and Eastern Europe.

This will be felt most clearly in the debate about sanctions against Russia. Perhaps they will become more gradual. These additional measures will take longer and become more difficult to negotiate. Although Poland, the Baltic states and the northern EU countries are pushing the big three – Germany, France and Italy – to tough energy sanctions against Moscow. They say more than hell: the SWIFT ban, the rejection of coal and a partial oil embargo. Better than full!

Pavel Podlesny, Head of the Center for Russian-American Relations at the Institute for the USA and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences believes that the hypocritical attempts of the Europeans to maneuver will lead nowhere:

— The Americans are against negotiations with Russia. And what Macron and Scholz really think there is absolutely not important. Of course, they would very much like to reach some kind of compromise with Moscow. But, as far as I understand, this is not in their power …

So for at least another year, the EU will rise to the top of its sanctions ladder, like Sisyphus. They will expand the oil embargo, strike at the export of Russian nuclear energy and gas. Wouldn’t fall off this crazy pyramid. This is the political reality of Brussels, the capital of the EU. And be that as it may, Europe will provide another nine billion euros to Ukraine this year. The Ukrainian state is teetering on the brink of default, take it out and put in the necessary 5 billion euros a month.

Military assistance will continue. Nevertheless, solidarity with Ukraine and solidarity in Europe will probably become one of the serious tests for “father Macron”, who unfolded to his full potential after the departure of “mother Merkel“. Did he have the strategic brains and military power to match? One of two things, he either succeeds or he fails.

For now, he has before his eyes early elections in Italy, which are likely to lead to the creation of a government consisting of parties historically more sympathetic to Russia than Germany. There are fewer and fewer people who want to be led from Berlin by some kind of “liver sausage”.

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