By Panayiotis Alimisis*
The EU and the United States want to introduce Eastern European countries as “full members” of the western world, especially, after the sudden annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2016. However, the social and economic realities of the EU of at least the last two decades, are responsible for the significant strategic sift by some Eastern European leaders. The European Union’s status suffers under the political dominance of markets, in which economy influences heavily – if not controls – political decision making, instead of the opposite! Political elites of the “old members” (Germany, France, Italy, Greece, etc.) failed, so far, to convince their own people, that they are capable to diminish inequalities and safeguard national identities.
Therefore, Eastern Europeans, especially those whose nations have a decent economic wealth, such as Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic for the first time after the collapse of Communism in 1990, started expressing doubts for their European future. In recent elections, voters unfortunately gave rise to far right movements, simply because they do not represent the old «globalization friendly» establishment, and they promise to defend national identity and provide equality for all. Here are some examples: Hungary (Jobbik 19%), Austria (Freedom Party 26%), Bulgaria (United Patriots 9%), Slovakia (Our Slovakia 8%), the Czech Republic (Freedom and Direct Democracy 12%) and so on…
On the other hand, Russia is waiting and preparing its move……. The bad experiences of Communism before 1990’s, still hunt politics and memories, making almost impossible any closer approach between the Kremlin and the Eastern European nations. Europeans still prefer to identify themselves with the West, having only typical relations with Moscow, however, if western elites insist on current policies of globalization, in the future some Eastern Europeans might change their mind……
So far, the vast majority of Eastern Europe lies between a deadlock. Should they choose to comply with EU-established political philosophy or make another geopolitical turn towards Russia?…..
*Panayiotis Alimisis studied Modern History and International Relations at London Metropolitan University
Note: The article expresses the personal views of the writer