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The price for European unity – who is willing to pay

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The outcome of the general elections in Greece was predicted, but still has the power to surprise as if European leaders were not really believing the possibility of Syriza's victory. The rebuke of austerity measures, championed by Germany and controlled by "Troika" was natural next move of victorious leader Tsiprias. We can sympathize with Greeks faced with substantial drop of income, equally substantial rise of unemployment rate and growing feeling that pre-crisis level of life won't return, even after decade of harsh and foully-tasting curation. Nevertheless recurring statements about historical links and friendship with Russia coming from the new government focus the attention on European solidarity in much more broad perspective then just unjust austerity programmes.

Greece stands now in line with Hungary – both countries' leaders want to show their displeasure at the actions taken by the European centre of power and the way The Brusselian Powers (Germany, "Troika", European Parliament) treat their counties. Hungarian government is widely criticized for introducing regulations limiting media freedom and clearly visible plan to build not pluralistic but united around government and party society. Prime minister Victor Orban stated in July "I don't think that our European Union membership precludes us from building an illiberal new state based on national foundations,". and listed Russia, Turkey and China as examples of "successful" nations, "none of which is liberal and some of which aren't even democracies".1 Taking into account the ever worsening relations between Russia and European Union over Crimea and revolt in Eastern Ukraine Orban play the role of Putin's friend, gaining lower prices for gas and other prizes from Moscow, at the same time hinting that more debates about Hungary internal situation and constitutional reforms the more pro-russian his policy will be (A state has to have friends, doesn't she?). The credibility of EU's foreign policy is at stake. New Greek government is following the footsteps – it has cut contacts with "Troika" stating it is illegal body and is hinting that the debt is unpayable so it is unreasonable to expect it to be payed. All this actions take place in the very days when member states foreign ministers meet with new High Representative Mogherini presiding over discussions about new and old-prolonged sanctions against Russia. Sights of relieve could be heard all over Europe – the Greeks did not veto the agreement – spelled in very general terms. The wall Street journal was diplomatic: "The prospects for the foreign ministers' meeting had been uncertain after the Greek government's statements of concern about tough measures against Russia. But Greece opted not to stand in the way" 2. They didn't do this this time. Mrs Mogherini was able to say, that Europe kept its' unity, that is the base for any credible foreign policy, not effective but at least credible one. But still, the very credibility is now continuously at stake.

There are at least two leaders of member states who are willing to risk this unity not only to defend their countries' best defined interest, but to show the mythical "Brussels", that it is not all-powerful and should treat sovereign states respectfully. For the unity towards Russia there is a price to pay, in cash and values.

By Dr hab. Pawel Borkowski - Uniwersitet Warszawski


note1 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-07-28/orban-says-he-seeks-to-end-liberal-democracy-in-hungary;

note2 http://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-foreign-minister-warns-of-new-spiral-of-violence-1422536212;

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