Fate of Europe: Return to Reality

The world of Euro-optimists is literally turned upside down. What only recently seemed to be "temporary difficulties", suddenly began to look like a geopolitical catastrophe. In reality the European Union began to "peel off" 11 years ago, when the referendums in France and the Netherlands rejected the Constitution for Europe.

With the announcement of the referendum results in the UK the so-called European project plunged into a new crisis. Following the Eurozone turmoil and the inability of the EU member states' leaders to agree on the new migration policy, the unified Europe now faces the possibility of physical disintegration. Within 2.5 years the EU may lose 10% of the population and 15% of gross domestic product. But what scares most European politicians is the beginning of a decline of the whole European project, launched by the founding fathers in the distant 1950s. Long-term political effect of the June 23 voting would be extremely negative for what is called the "European idea", even if the British and European elites somehow miraculously manage to block its practical results.

Mark Leonard, one of the most prominent European intellectuals of our time, director of the European Council on Foreign Affairs and a good friend of mine, in his dramatic interview in the day of Brexit admitted: "It’s a counterrevolutionary moment". The world of Euro-optimists is literally turned upside down. What only recently seemed to be "temporary difficulties", suddenly began to look like geopolitical catastrophe. Although in reality the European Union began to "peel off" 11 years ago, when the referendums in France and the Netherlands rejected the Constitution for Europe, the most democratic document in the history of the European integration according to the procedure of its development.

But then the European leaders preferred not to give much importance to it. Talks about a systemic crisis have been howled down by the grants for books and articles, showing that "from every crisis the Europe emerged more united and strong." This is not surprising. In 1989 - 1991 the world literally fell into the hands of the European and American elites. At the same time many enterprises and deposits, established in the Soviet Union, fell into the hands of private persons. However, the Western elites believed this was not due to coincidence, but because of their special achievements. Everybody agreed that Europe is "remaking the world according to its own image and likeness, and exports its own values."

It was a dangerous delusion. Geostrategic turmoils and changes had absolutely no connections to the merits of European politicians. More precisely, they had connections, but not with those people who came to power in the early 2000s. These changes have been prepared throughout the preceding history of Europe and the world, including the Soviet leaders' incompetence in managing the economy. They were forged by patriarchs of the European politics during the Cold War, and many of them warned about the dangers of hasty EU enlargement to the East, spoke about the need to listen to Russia more attentively. However, properly this misconception was the basis of how Europe, its elites, thought about the world and their global role. During last 20 years, Europe was inadequate to the surrounding reality.

Another dangerous, deadly dangerous misconception was that everyone without exception wants to be in the EU. The idea of crowds of Ukrainians, Georgians and Moldovans, knocking on the doors of a prosperous Europe did not coincide with the real data of sociological surveys. Even in early 2014, in Ukraine, the number of supporters of the "integration" with the European Union and closer relations with Russia practically coincided. However, this did not prevent the irresponsible European leaders to demand from the official Kiev to make a choice in favor of Europe. A timid refusal by the Ukrainian administration of "European integration" caused quite frenzied rage in Brussels and European capitals. And this led up to a civil war in Europe. Carl Bildt, former Swedish PM and Foreign Minister, who actively took part in the events, noted in one of his speeches, that "we wanted to build a ring of friends, and got a ring of fire." Thank you for the revelation.

Another European legend was the thesis that the integration and the European Union are equivalent to the world with absence of war. No doubt, the greatest achievement of the European integration was the inability, for now, of war between the historic rivals - Britain, Germany and France. However, beyond the comfortable circle of West Europe, the agenda, proposed by the EU, if not always "carried a sword" (as it happened in Yugoslavia or Ukraine), in any case it did not create ANY PRECEDENT for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Therefore in 2007 the statements, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome, already sounded absurd. Their main content was "50 years without war." And that happened after several years of carnage in Yugoslavia, armed conflicts in Transnistria and Chechnya.

The seemingly omnipotence of the West that occurred after the Soviet Union disappearance as an alternative also played its negative role. The most clear negative consequences of this were manifested in such important issues as the establishment of peace. The whole period after the end of the Cold War, when the intra-state conflicts were the most commonly widespread, was actually spent in vain. Politicians and diplomats, especially in the West, have not been able to use this period to create complex and multi-level concepts to settle situations, when the objectivity of the competing interests leads society to a civil war. Instead, there was a very simple, clear and, most importantly, cost-effective doctrine of the internal and regional conflicts resolution. You must select one of the involved parties and put a pressure on it until the optimal peace conditions will be accepted.

Finally absurd this "peace" strategy looked in the late 1990s, when the government of Yugoslavia conducted the war against the terrorist gang, calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army. Since the beginning of active hostilities in February 1998, the West openly pressured on Belgrade and demanded to cease operations against terrorists. Since September 1998, Yugoslavia was directly threatened by NATO military action, and after the failure of a single round of talks between Serbs and Albanians in Rambouillet in February 1999, Yugoslavia became target of missiles and bombs. Gradually the conviction was formed, that any problem can be solved by informational flows of lies or, in extreme cases, by the hammer of military force.

Europe, being assured in these delusions, "for 20 years rested in a warm bath with a glass of white wine in hand", as one of my colleagues aptly said. However, the water from the bath gradually began to leak out. In place of 15 - 25-year-old illusions comes an understanding that the world does not change in accordance with the ideal vision of Brussels. Instead the Europe is beginning to change in the direction of greater adequacy of the reality of surrounding humanity. And it is really scary for the European opinion leaders.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.