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Pandemic exposes chronic gaps within EU, says Russian expert

The director of the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations noted that as of yet, an attempt to forge a new historic affinity has failed

MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. The novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed chronic discrepancies within the European Union on matters of European unity, Alexander Dynkin, director of the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), said on Monday.

"The pandemic has revealed a chronic gap in the European Union between the Europeanization of values and the nationalization of interests," he said at the online Potsdam Meetings conference organized by the German-Russian Forum and the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

"I think that the institutionalization of individual preferences into a regulation of the Maastricht or Schengen Agreement type has demonstrated its fragility," he noted. "At least, we heard unprecedented apologies from President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to the Italians for the European Union’s failing to offer timely help to that country amid the coronavirus pandemic."

: An attempt to forge a new historic affinity has failed so far, he noted. "National identities, personal systems of values still differ. For instance, Warsaw is currently seeking to impose a narrative that Vatican City and the United States brought freedom to Poland while many Spaniards still remember that it was Vatican City’s cooperation with the United States that extended dictatorship in Spain for 40 years in a bid to bar the leftist forces from coming to power."

"Apart from that, such symmetry has emerged in the European Union around the argument on support to vulnerable countries and sectors," he stressed. "Evidently, southern nations stand for financial solidarity and shared responsibility whereas northern nations, such as Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, are against sharing debts. Germany has unexpectedly left the northern camp. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel has opted to leave the stage as an advocate of European unity."

According to Dynkin, Russia has questions to a number of European nations. "For instance, why does no one in Germany, but for a few Social Democrats, pay any attention to the 75-year-long presents of the US military in their country? Why do five EU countries still have nuclear munitions? These are the questions we need to discuss," he emphasized.

He noted that there are two ways for further development. "It is either moving ahead to a common budget, which is hardly ever possible in the current political situation, or reversing to looser ties, without such conditions as the Maastricht Treaty, a common market and a focus on intellectual property and technologies, and the unification of the foreign defense policy under slogan of strategic autonomy," he added.