Europe now faces its ultimate ideological fork-in-the-road, which it has thus far ignored but can no longer ignore: They need to decide whether they seek a world of nations that each is sovereign over its own territory but over no other (and this would not be a world at war); or whether they seek instead a world in which they are part of the American empire, a world based on conquests — NATO, IMF, World Bank, and the other U.S.-controlled international institutions — and in which their own nation’s citizens are subject to the dictatorship by America’s aristocracy: the same super-rich individuals who effectively control the U.S. Government itself (see this and this — and that’s dictatorship by the richest, in the United States).
Iran has become this fateful fork-in-the-road, and the immediate issue here is America’s cancellation of the Iran nuclear deal that America had signed along with 6 other countries, and America’s consequent restoration of economic sanctions against Iran — sanctions against companies anywhere that continue trading with Iran. First, however, some essential historical background on that entire issue:
The U.S. aristocracy overthrew Iran’s democratically elected Government in 1953 and imposed there a barbaric dictatorship which did the bidding of the U.S. and allied aristocracies, by installing the Pahlavi Shah there, just as they had earlier, in 1932, installed the Saud King in Saudi Arabia — which land never ever had known democracy. As Wikipedia says of Ibn Saud, who became King in 1932, “After World War I, he received further support from the British, including a glut of surplus munitions. He launched his campaign against the Al Rashidi in 1920; by 1922 they had been all but destroyed,” with Britain’s help. Similarly, the U.S. and its British Imperial partner installed Pahlavi as Iran’s Shah in 1953. This was done by U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower. After the death of the anti-imperialistic U.S. President FDR, in 1945, the U.S. Government quickly became pro-imperialistic under President Harry S. Truman (whom imperial England’s Winston Churchill wrapped around his little finger), and then even more so under Eisenhower, so that during the brief presidency of Ike’s successor President JFK, the anti-imperialistic ghost of FDR was coming to haunt the White House and thus again threaten the conjoined U.S.-UK’s aristocracies’ surging global control. Kennedy was quickly souring on, and coming to oppose, imperialism (just as FDR had done) — he was opposing conquest and dominion for its own sake. So, he became assassinated and the evidence was covered-up, so that the CIA, which Truman had installed and which Eisenhower placed firmly under the control of America’s aristocratically controlled military-industrial complex, became increasingly America’s own Deep State, designed for global conquest (though using an ‘anti-communist’ excuse and cover for their real and ruling motive of global conquest and dominion).
When the U.S.-imposed Shah was overthrown by an authentic revolution in 1979, America’s continued alliance with the UK-U.S.-installed Saud family turned into a U.S.-UK alliance against Iran, which nation has ever since been demonized by the U.S. and UK aristocracies as being a ‘terrorist regime’, even though Saudi Arabia actually dominates global Islamic terrorism, and Iran is opposed to terrorism (except to terrorism that’s aimed against Israel). And everybody who knows anything on sound basis is aware of these established historical facts. But, actually, the U.S.-Saudi alliance is even worse than that: global Islamic terrorism was invented and organized by the U.S. aristocracy in conjunction with the Saud family starting in 1979 when Iran freed itself from the U.S.-UK dictatorship and restored Iranian sovereignty (even though in a highly compromised Shiite theocratic way, nothing at all like the secular Iranian democracy that had been overthrown by the U.S. and UK aristocracies in 1953). The U.S. and Sauds created Islamic terrorism in 1979 in order to draw the Soviet Union into Afghanistan and ultimately used these terrorist proxy “boots on the ground” so as to force the Soviets out of Afghanistan — thereby draining the Soviet economy in the hope of ultimately conquering the U.S.S.R. and then conquering Russia itself, which the U.S. President GHW Bush on the night of 24 February 1990 made clear that the U.S. and its allies must do — he gave the European vassal-nations their marching-order on that date, and they have reliably followed that order, until now.
Russia, which the U.S. aristocracy craves to conquer, is an ally of Iran (which they hope to re-conquer). The basic principle of America’s aristocracy is repudiation of national sovereignty. That’s what the U.S. Government globally stands for today. Russian Television headlined on May 11th, “‘Are we America’s vassals?’ France vows to trade with Iran in defiance of US ‘economic policeman’” and reported that U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions against any companies that do business with Iran, is being resisted by all the other nations that had signed the Obama-Kerry nuclear accord with Iran, the “JCPOA” treaty: UK, France, China, Russia, U.S., and EU (which is led by Germany). The U.S. regime knows that if even America’s allies — UK, France, and Germany — hold together with Iran, to defy the Imperial actions punishing them for continuing with Iran even after the U.S. pull-out from the treaty, then the Western Alliance will be jeopardized, if not terminated altogether, and finally the Cold War, which GHW Bush had ordered the allies to continue even after the end of the U.S.S.R., and of its communism, and of its Warsaw Pact military alliance mirroring America’s NATO alliance, will finally end also on America’s side, just as it had ended in 1991 on the Soviet Union’s side. Such an end to the Cold War would possibly cause America’s military-industrial complex — and the stock values of mega-corporations such as Lockheed Martin — to collapse.
Thus, the U.S. aristocracy is afraid of peace replacing their existing permanent-war economy. All those trillions of dollars that have been invested in machines of mass-murder abroad, could plunge in value, if UK, France, and Germany, terminate the Western Alliance, and become individual sovereign nations who join with Iran — another individual sovereign nation — to say no to the Imperial power (the U.S.), and yes to national sovereignty, which sovereignty constitutes the sole foundation-stone upon which any and all democracies are constructed. No democracy can exist in any nation that is a vassal to some other (the imperial power). In a world where national sovereignty is honored, democracy would not necessarily exist everywhere, but it would no longer be internationally prohibited by an imperial power, which inevitably is itself a dictatorship, no real democracy at all.
On March 3rd, the 175-year-old imperial magazine, The Economist, headlined against China as an enemy in this continuing Cold War, “How the West got China wrong” and explained “the Chinese threat”:
“China is not a market economy and, on its present course, never will be. Instead, it increasingly controls business as an arm of state power. … Foreign businesses are profitable but miserable, because commerce always seems to be on China’s terms.”
The imperialistic view is that the international dictator and its corporations should rule — there should be no real sovereign other than this dictatorship, by the U.S. regime now, since America is today’s imperialist nation.
Perhaps Europe now will make the fateful decision, between international dictatorship on the one side, or else the supreme sovereignty of each and every nation on the other, to determine its own laws — and to require any corporation that does business there to adhere to its legal system and to none other: the supremacy of each nation within its own territory, not of any international corporations, not even of ones that are based in some international-bully country that says it’s “the one indispensable nation” — meaning that every other nation is “dispensable.” Russia won’t accept that. Iran won’t accept that. China won’t accept that. Will Germany accept it — the land of the original: “Deutschland über alles”? Will France? Will UK?
Americans accept it. The U.S. public are very effectively controlled by America’s aristocracy. A Yougov poll at the start of 2017 (the start of Trump’s Presidency) asked over 7,000 Americans to rate countries as “enemy”, “unfriendly”, “friendly”, “ally”, or “not sure”; and, among the 144 rated countries, Americans placed at the most hostile end, in order from the very worst, to the 13th-from-worst: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan. Other than Saudi Arabia, which the U.S. Government treats as being its master if not as being its very top ally, and which is, in any case, by far the U.S. military’s biggest customer (other than the U.S. Government, of course), that list from Yougov looks very much like, or else close to, what America’s aristocracy would want to see targeted, as being America’s ‘enemies’. So, other than Americans’ including the top ally both of America’s aristocracy and of Israel‘s aristocracy, Saudi Arabia, on that list of enemies, the list was very much what the U.S. aristocracy’s ’news’media had been promoting as being America’s ‘enemies’. In fact, even though those ‘news’media haven’t informed Americans that 92% of Saudi Arabians approve of ISIS, or that the Saudi royal family financed and organized the 9/11 attacks (in conjunction with others of George W. Bush’s friends), Americans view Saudi Arabia hostilely. That’s acceptable to America’s aristocracy, because the Saud family’s hatred is focused against Iran, the main Shiite nation, and the U.S. public (have been deceive to) prefer Saudi Arabia over Iran. In fact, a 17 February 2016 Gallup poll showed that Iran was seen by Americans as being even more hostile toward Americans than is Saudi Arabia. So, America’s aristocracy have no reason to be concerned that their chief ally and second-from-top governmental customer, the Saud family, are unfavorably viewed by the U.S. public. Both in America and in Saudi Arabia, the aristocracy effectively controls its public. Thus, the American people think in the way that the American aristocracy want them to — supporting any conquest (e.g., Iraq 2003, Libya 2011, Syria 2012-) that the aristocracy want to perpetrate. Of course, the way to achieve this control is by means of the windows through which the public get to see the world around them, which windows on the world are the nation’s ‘news’media.
On May 12th, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) reported that the American people are very effectively controlled to believe Iran to be America’s enemy and very dangerous to us. The headline was “Media Debate Best Way to Dominate Iran” and the article documented that the American people are being very intensively propagandized by the aristocratically controlled media, to favor aggression against Iran, and are being heavily lied-to, in order to achieve this.
So, though the American public will continue to support the American Government (despite distrusting both their government and their ‘news’media), foreign publics aren’t so rigidly under the control of America’s aristocracy; and therefore Europe’s aristocracies could abandon their alliance with the U.S. aristocracy, if they strongly enough want to. Their ‘news’media would obediently do whatever they’re told, and could begin immediately portraying the reality of the U.S. Government, to their people — including, for example, the reality that the U.S. stole Ukraine
, and some of the participants have even confessed their roles; Russia did not steal Crimea (and the Crimea-Ukraine issue was the alleged spark for the ‘restoration’ of the Cold War — which The West never actually ended on its side, only Russia did on its side).
An end of The Western Alliance (America’s empire) could happen. But it would require — from the EU’s leaders (and/or from Turkey’s Erdogan) — courage, conviction, and a commitment to national sovereignty’s being the foundation-stone to any democracy anywhere, and this change-of-political-theory would be something drastically new in Europe (and-or in Turkey), which is a region that has historically been staunchly supportive of empires, and thus supportive of dictatorships (ones that are compliant — foreign stooge-regimes). That would require a historic sea-change. Iran’s peace, if not Iran’s very existence (and maybe even world peace), might be depending upon this slender hope.
first posted at strategic-culture.org
An occasion for the EU to reaffirm its standing on Security policies and Human Rights
Vice-President of the EU Commission Margaritis Shinas was a keynote speaker at this summer’s Diplomatic Conference in Vienna organised by the International Institute IFIMES, Media Platform Modern Diplomacy and their partners. High dignitary of the Commission seized the occasion to express the EU’s take on the 75th anniversary of victory over fascism, unfolding health crisis and to it related pressure on human and labour rights, as well as on the Union’s continued efforts towards remaining a ‘rock’ amid the volatile climate.
It is known by now – and acknowledged by the EU Commission VP – that the COVID-19 crisis has had some severe implications for Human Rights and, to a lesser extent, for cooperation outlooks. In the face of the first wave, countries in Europe and elsewhere have adopted different courses of actions in order to manage the health crisis and attempt at containing its threats. Placed in an unprecedented situation, governments have undoubtedly each reacted in ways they deemed most appropriate at the time.
However, the pandemic itself topped with the varied policies have caused notable restrictions on Human Rights. Most notoriously, the right to life and that to health have been challenged in extreme circumstances where, at the peak of the crisis, health institutions were so overflowed that the provision of maximal care to every single individual was compromised. The effective and equal access to healthcare has therefore quickly become a central preoccupation of many governments, drawing on some dramatic first-hand experiences.
On that, I will say that if the global health crisis has been a synonym for many negative impacts, it has also been a precious opportunity to rethink carefully the existing narrative of programmatic and progressive rights – such as the right to health – needing no immediate attention, nor realisation. This narrative held predominantly by some Western democracies ever since the adoption of the UN International Covenants, has been unduly weakening the universal and indivisible stance of Human Rights. Needless to say, in adhering to that dangerous narrative, planning for and prioritizing health access, resources and system capabilities is undermined. This, in turn, contributes to the difficult and insufficient responses of some governments that have been witnessed. May the victims of inadequate infrastructures due to an obsolete distinction between rights serve as a poignant reminder: social, cultural and economic rights need be readily available to all.
Equally interesting is the toll taken on a whole other range of Human Rights – an international system built up in last 75 years on the legacy of victory of antifascist forces in Europe and elsewhere. Numerous individual freedoms have also suffered limitations, often as a direct result of actions taken to promote and ensure the right to life and the right to health for the most vulnerable. Indeed, people’s freedom of movement, that of religion (external dimension), that of assembly and association, as well as their procedural rights – only to name a few – have all been greatly affected during the crisis.
Of course voices have raised their discontent at those restrictions put in place to mitigate the crisis, considered by many to be too incisive and too manifold when cumulated. But despite an apparent clash between two groups of interests protected by different rights, the resolution which has emerged from the approaches followed by most countries is very telling. In fact, a balancing exercise revealed that protecting the right to health and to life of the minority of people ought simply to be considered predominant in comparison to the other individual freedoms and rights of the majority. This reasoning, grounded in solidarity and the protection of minorities and vulnerable persons, is in fact very encouraging in an era of growing individualism combined with overwhelming challenges which will certainly require peoples to unite against them.
Nevertheless, this does not take away from the fact that the full and optimal enjoyment of Human Rights has generally been seriously affected as many interests have been caught in the crossfire of the fight against Coronavirus’ harmful effects. Moreover, the crisis has also created some divides amongst European countries. This is because the sanitary emergency has caused for precarious contexts of resources shortages and sometimes unfruitful cooperation, even shift in alliances.
This has naturally brought about separate criticisms and questioning of the EU cooperation strategy and security arrangements. In that sense, growing expectations are felt for the EU to uphold and promote its fundamental values including the rule of law, solidarity, non-discrimination and antifascist line.
Vice-PresidentSchinas is well aware of that reality and reiterates the EU’s unalterable commitment to peaceful cooperation, human dignity, liberty, equality and solidarity in these troubled times. He further ensures that the most recent security strategies led by the Union do not – and never will – eat away at the protection of fundamental rights. What is more, whilst the EU’s arrangements can be seen as slightly ‘under attack’ currently, the VP feels that rather than seeing this period as a high-stakes test on EU democracies it should be seen as an opportunity to take a bigger stand than ever for the European common values and call for strengthened multilateralism. This necessities constructive reciprocal and respectful active engagement with the EU Mediterranean and eastern European neighbourhood.
All that is because it is not too difficult to imagine that the aftermath of the C-19 crisis can open several paths of new dynamics in international relations. Yet, as it cannot be stressed enough, an upcoming change in the conception of relations between nations could be decisive for numerous other contemporary challenges – namely: migration crisis, armed conflicts, climate change. While one of the paths could consist in an increase in protectionism and nationalist attitudes, another one would involve, on the contrary, a shift towards reinforced cooperation and enhanced solidarity. The latter outward approach, advocated by the EU Vice-President and believed to be the best hope for the future, is one deeply enshrined in the antifascist legacy and the very raison d’être of the Union.
Above all, at the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day, Excellency Schinas reminds us with much humbleness that the journey for safeguarding Human Rights is one that is perpetually underway.
Metternich: The visionary reconstructor of Europe and champion of conservatism
Klemens Von Metternich early life and orthodox ideas
Klemens Von Metternich was born on May 15, 1773, into the House of Metternich, a German noble family that originates from Rhineland. He was the son of a diplomat that had served at the Imperial court of Treves.
At the age of 15, he started studying law at the University of Strasbourg while getting more familiar with the concept of conservatism. In 1792 he was attending the University of Mainz, again at the faculty of law where his conservative ideas flourished, promoting traditional imperial institutions emphasizing the necessity of prosperity and stability in Europe.
Klemens Von Metternich is considered to be a controversial figure in international affairs due to his ideas of obstructionism, while some critics of him go as far as call him an enemy of freedom. He was a harsh critic of the French Revolution and its consequences and he dreaded the ideas of liberalism and nationalism that emerged after it.
On the other hand, he is praised for his vision of peace in Europe by holding on to the traditional monarchical systems that were the only way to establish peace and prosperity in his view. Thanks to Metternich, Europe established itself as a dominant economic and military power of the 19th century while reviving again the European values of stability and development for its European citizens.
The French Revolution
In 1789, amidst the French Revolution, Klemens Von Metternich expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation in France, calling the revolution a “hateful time” for Europe. His statements came when most of the French nobility was executed in France and there was a huge concern growing among the European powers that the situation would spread to the whole of Europe.
Soon enough, Metternich’s concerns turned out to be true, as France sunk into a period of political turmoil. In 1794, the king of France Louis the XVI was executed spreading chaos among the country. The so-called “Reign of Terror” was established where thousands of French citizens were executed.
The French Revolution brought out views and ideas of liberalism and nationalism that contradicted the traditional systems that ruled Europe. Metternich resented these ideas. He was more focused on the idea of the European Enlightenment. He understood clearly that to provide tranquility and stability in Europe, certain fundamental laws needed to be established for Europe to function properly.
He pointed out that aspects of religion and morality should be the primary necessities to co-govern with natural laws. His ideal system for Europe was a monarchical system that would co-share power with other classes of European society. Metternich’s goal was to prevent any further revolutions and uprisings in Europe, however, his plan was briefly jeopardized by the man that threatened to destroy everything he believed in.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Metternich’s political nemesis
Napoleon Bonaparte, France’s most prestigious general at that time, re-emerged as France’s savior promising to save the French revolution and ending France’s political turmoil. In 1804, Napoleon became the emperor of France. However, he was never recognized by any monarch in Europe.
The Great Powers of Europe, fearing that the effects of the French Revolution will backfire to them, decided to invade France and restore the reign of King Louis XVI. However, this act gave justification to Napoleon to declare war on the European powers by proclaiming that this was just a defensive measure to preserve the French Revolution.
At first, Metternich viewed Napoleon with great interest, mentioning that he was the only one capable of providing discipline to a troubled France. An extraordinary man with practical knowledge about the common life of the citizens. However, his praise came with some precautions about Napoleon. He thought that he was a very practical and strong man but only if he was born in a different age. He did not find his abilities suitable for the age they were in.
Metternich was appointed as the Austrian Ambassador in France in 1806. By that time Napoleon had managed to defeat Spain, Prussia, and Austria making his advances to the Russian Empire. It was at that point that Metternich decided to use his diplomatic skills to keep Austria “breathing” long enough until Napoleon would be dethroned. His plans accelerated when he became Austria’s Foreign Minister in 1809.
At the same year he became a Foreign Minister, Metternich decided to show his diplomatic skills by arranging the marriage of Napoleon with Marie Louise the daughter of the Austrian Emperor, Francis I. With this maneuver, he managed to convince Napoleon that Austria would be a close ally of him, while in reality, he was just buying time for Austria and the remaining great powers to come up with a plan to dethrone Napoleon. He didn’t have to wait long.
In 1812, Napoleon marched towards Russia. Certain for his victory, a naive Napoleon did not see how big of an obstacle Russia would be. While advancing to Moscow he captured an empty city that was set on fire, while the Russians retreated to the east. With his lines of supply being cut off and a devastating Russian winter approaching them, Napoleon decided to retreat, looking for gold at the surrender of Russia but receiving only copper.
In the meantime, Metternich put his plan on the motion. With Napoleon’s army retreating and being chased by the Russians, he convinced the remaining Great Powers to give a devastating blow to Napoleon. In 1813, Napoleon was defeated in Leipzig by the armies of Russia, England, Prussia, and Austria. Napoleon was imprisoned at the island of Elbe in the Mediterranean Sea. However, he managed to escape and rallied up soldiers that were loyal to him but again he was defeated for a second time in 1815, in the famous battle of Waterloo in Belgium. Metternich was crowded as a hereditary Prince of the Austrian Empire. The only man that stood against his ideal formation of Europe was defeated.
The Vienna Congress
The year 1815, saw Metternich at the peak of his power. He had become a key figure in the plan to dethrone Napoleon, with his excellent diplomatic skills and his determination to steer Europe into the path of stability where Kings governed and people were governed. At the Congress, he made his points very clear for the beginning. He believed that the only way to ensure peace in the continent was to bring the Great powers together so that they could prevent any large European War to escalate again.
Metternich’s policies were based on two principles. One being the protection of historical traditional institutes such as the Church, the dynastic monarchies, and the essence of aristocratic privilege and the second was the establishment of a new vision of international balance in the continent of Europe. Instead of punishing France for the Napoleonic wars, he suggested including them in the table. With that move Metternich showed his true European face, putting the future of his continent above any nationalist notions.
The success of the Congress was inevitable. While including France at the Council of the Great Powers, Europe started to become more stable. The Council that included England, Russia, France, Austria, and Prussia agreed to prevent any further revolutions and political uprising in Europe. All the disputes between the powers were resolved with diplomacy which gave them all leverage to re-organize Central Europe in a more simple way to avoid any internal intense rivalries.
Contributions to Europe and modern diplomacy
Klemens Von Metternich was viewed by many people as a great man and a true European citizen who managed to sustain a united European front for almost 100 years. Despite some minor uprising after the Vienna Congress, Metternich was a solid diplomat whose vision about Europe became a reality.
However, he is also viewed as an oppressor of freedom. His despise for liberal and nationalist movements made him an “enemy” of the common people. What Metternich was more afraid of about these movements was the potential disruption inside the Austrian Empire that was made up by a multinational coalition of 11 nations. He did not want to see the Empire being torn apart. He went as far as suppressing any suspicious uprisings in Germany where there was a lot of revolutionary activity, by censoring books and newspapers and installing secret police spies that would infiltrate universities to arrest any suspected revolutionaries.
On one hand, he has been a symbol of oppression but that is not a judgment that represents him. He was a great man and a man with a vision for Europe. Numerous times he mentioned that he felt more European than Austrian, putting the needs of Europe above the nation. In his memoirs, he wrote about the unfair judgment that he received but also mentioned how wrong those people were. “Old Europe is at the beginning of the end and new Europe has not yet begun its existence, and between the end and the beginning, there will be chaos. In a hundred years, historians will judge me quite differently than do all those who pass judgment on me today.”
Indeed, 100 years later historians acknowledged the wisdom and the vision of Klemens Von Metternich. After the devastating consequences of WWI and WWII, his diplomatic ideas that kept Europe at peace were missed and Europe realized that the failed liberal system will open the door to a nationalist and fascist system that will doom the whole continent.
History tends to repeat itself and while our world is more connected now and more liberal the shadows of nationalist far-right movements lure Europe. This aspect, combined with failed liberal policies result in dissatisfaction of the masses and without order, chaos would erupt as it did hundreds of years ago. Metternich’s contributions to modern diplomacy and the history of Europe are remarkable. His ideas flourished after WWII with the creation of the European Union, a system that might not share the same conservative ideas as he did, but surely contributed to the prosperity of the continent.
His ideas of European stability and control of power are more relevant now with the new crisis that the EU is facingand soon enough the European Union will have to rethink Metternich’s ideas for the neo-liberal system to survive, otherwise, there will be only room for nationalistic far-right movements that threaten the dream of the EU by returning to failed protectionism measures and policies.
Democratic Backsliding in the Visegrad Four: Examining the Illiberal Turn
The initial years of the post-communist era reflected a promising beginning of the consolidation of democracy in the Visegrad Four countries. Slovakia, the only exception to this regional trend of democratic consolidation under Mečiarism, also showed signs of successful transition with the revival of democracy after the 1998 elections. However, in the last few years, with the rise of eurosceptics, ultra-nationalists and populists, the democratic model has been facing grave challenges in these countries. Besides attacking the opposition, students’ organisations and NGOs, the conservative leadership in these countries, have also passed regressive reforms in media, constitution, as well as the judiciary. These attacks and reforms are aimed at strengthening the power of eurosceptic populist leaders, and thereby reducing any chances of Eurocentric opposition in the future. But why, despite initial years of promising success, democratic consolidation failed in the V4 countries? This essay argues that the challenges to the democratic consolidation in these post-communist countries have been a result of myriad local, national and international factors at economic, political and social levels.
Primarily, the membership in the EU, which was a major foreign policy objective of the new political elite post-1989, had raised numerous expectations among the citizens in these countries. But after the EU membership in May 2004, when those expectations still seemed a distant dream for the citizens in these countries, the disappointment with the EU membership’s promises rose throughout the region. This disappointment soon became a fertile ground on which the conservative section of the political elite mobilised their support, which became evident with the victory of nationalistic and eurosceptic parties throughout the region.
This discontentment with the Western European model was made further worse by the economic crises of 2008-9 and the subsequent Euro debt crisis of 2011. Contrary to expectations that the EU membership will be a guarantor of economic prosperity and improved standards of living, the V4 countries had to suffer immensely as a result of these crises which primarily resulted because of the loopholes in other countries. Furthermore, the subsequent burden of reforms with adoption of EU’s austerity policies aimed at stabilising the European économies post-crises, also proved costly for these countries, and hence furthered their apathy towards the integrationist model of Brussels.
Post 2015, the Refugee Crisis, resulting due to the massive influx of illegal migrants into Europe from politically unstable areas of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, further fuelled the simmering anti-EU attitudes among the V4 countries. Though only Hungary was directly affected by the wave of these migrants, all V4 countries reflected a response which was reminiscent of classical xenophobia and exclusive nationalism. Despite these countries officially voting against Brussels’ proposal of obligatory refugee quotas, and opposing the financial aid given to Turkey following EU-Turkey deal to stop refugees from entering the EU, the conservative media and politicians in these countries left no stone unturned to show a face of refugees that immediately mobilised the people to vote populist demagogues to power at the cost of ruling out the Eurocentric federalists.
Finally, another important, and often overlooked reason for the failed democratic consolidation in the V4 countries has been their lack of historical experience with democracy. As a result of this lacked democratic experience, people in these countries failed to develop a democratic culture in a few decades post-1989, and instead found it easy to turn back to their familiar models.
However, despite all the gloomy prospects of democratic consolidation in the V4 countries, the region is not the only aberration. The rise of Euroscepticism, nationalism, and populism has been on the rise throughout the continent, which became evident with Brexit and the rise of conservative parties, like National Front and Alternative for Germany, among others. Therefore, it is imperative for the EU that these occasional setbacks in few countries must not hinder its vision of greater European integration. Because, any void created by declining role of Brussels in the Visegrad region will immediately be filled by Russia, which is craving to regain its influence in its ‘near-abroad.’
Moreover, the recent experiences from Afghanistan, Libya, Algeria and elsewhere, also made it clear that the quick imposition of the democratic model is not the universal solution for discrete problems across the world. The fact that the evolution of democracy took centuries of deliberate transformations, and occasional violent conflicts, in England, France, USA and elsewhere, must be kept in mind while assessing the democratic consolidation in any part of the world. Expecting successful transition and consolidation of democracy in the V4 countries, without keeping in mind that it has been only a few decades since these countries embarked on this painful transition, is in itself problematic.
Nonetheless, the post-1989 transition has also successfully contributed to transforming a considerable section of the population in these countries, who now show major disliking towards any non-democratic model. Therefore, even if the current situation of the V4is not a pleasant one, the big picture coming post-1989 is a reflection of a successful break with the ‘Other’ past.
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