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Eastern Europe-Old World rifts are root causes of current EU crisis

January 15, 2016, 17:55 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Poland’s sudden demarche against the European Union’s unofficial leader Germany has put a spotlight on the rifts existing within the EU, polled experts have told TASS. In their opinion this is sure evidence the EU is in a deep crisis.

Mutual reproaches between Berlin and Warsaw began when Poland’s new conservative government under Jaroslaw Kaczynski introduced amendments to the laws on the Constitutional Court and on television and radio broadcasting. Under amended legislation the government is empowered to appoint and dismiss the chiefs of socio-political television and radio broadcasters. As for the Constitutional Court, all decisions will from now on be made by a two-thirds majority, and not a simple majority.

Germany suspects that the Polish mass media may find themselves under the control of the authorities and be turned into an instrument of government propaganda, while the Constitutional Court will lose independence. A number of German politicians from Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party responded to the Polish authorities in a rather harsh way. Some called for imposing sanctions on Warsaw. In response, Poland accused Berlin of authoritarianism and advised the Germans to remember the horrors of World War II.

The European Union’s Germany-authored migration policy is the main annoyance in relations between Warsaw and Berlin. According to the established quota, Poland, with its population of 38 million, is expected to house about 7,000-8,000 migrants. Many other countries, such as Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and the Baltic States, have angrily protested the imposition of migrants accommodation quotas. Mass protests in the EU countries followed after the latest wave of violence and harassment by refugees against European women in Germany, Finland and Sweden.

Britain adheres to a special stance. From time to time it warns all those around it might quit the EU. The Netherlands has taken a very special attitude. In April, the country will hold a consultative referendum in which most residents, according to opinion polls, may come out against their country’s ratification of the European Union’s association agreement with Ukraine.

The deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrey Klimov, says the European Union’s worst problem is that at a certain point it started growing too fast. "The European Union had been created in the hope that the openness of the member economies would give Europe greater security. Up to the beginning of the 21st century the European Union had been developing as an economic alliance. Then it reformatted itself into a legal entity. It lifted all internal barriers. And it introduced the Shengen zone and a common currency, the euro," Klimov said.

"At the end of the 1990s it occurred to Washington and Brussels to take over the space that was once called the Warsaw Pact - the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States - and to do so very fast. The ultimate aim of the project was to approach the border of Russia as closely as possible, thus making it a transit country, a backyard and a source of raw materials. That aim was camouflaged in various ways, but I know that from first-hand experience, from contacts with many European politicians," Klimov told TASS.

He believes that as the Eastern Partnership program for the adoption of East European countries into the EU went on, "the European Union placed politics before the economic engine."

"Brussels’s intention to take over Ukraine, to tear it away from Russia caused a government coup and a civil war. A similar scenario is currently at work in Moldova. Washington and Brussels in 2008 provoked a clash between Russia and Georgia. From time to time attempts have been made to shake loose the situation in Belarus. At a certain point the European Union fancied itself as the centre governing the Eurasian world. The EU overstrained itself," Klimov believes.

Brussels’s obsession with "democratic expansion" highlighted the problem of disparity in the EU countries’ social and economic development. For instance, the living standards in Britain are immeasurably higher than they are in Romania and the Baltic countries, whose citizens tend to migrate to Western Europe hoping to earn a living there. As a result, their countries, with their weak economies are losing skilled labor force, mostly young people. Political tensions are soaring. Now they have to address the problem of mass migration from the Middle East and North Africa.

"As a result, the EU commissioners started looking like a football team, chasing the ball from one end of the pitch to the other. Or sometimes they remind of firefighters, having to deal with one blaze after another, such as the Greek crisis, followed by outbreaks of violence by migrants. The EU’s top elite are utterly unaware of the public opinion, which can be easily seen in publications in the European media and by what people are talking about cafes and on the streets," Klimov said.

"The EU will be able to overcome the current crisis only if its members forget about the geopolitical and pseudo-democratic ambitions and start dealing with the economy in earnest. If Brussels prefers to use face-lifting tactics to address the problems, the disease will get chronic and with time it will result in a lethal outcome," he warned.

The deputy dean of the World Politics and World Economy department at the higher school of economics, Andrey Suzdaltsev, believes that the current contradictions between the EU countries are a "battle on the way." "There have been quite a few internal political crises in the European Union. We are witnesses to one of them now. Brussels is addressing complex, grave problems. But there is no trend towards the EU’s collapse," Suzdaltsev told TASS.

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