Do We Want To Live Together? Europe Averts Disaster, But May Be Doomed To Fade

The continent’s leaders managed to save both the monetary and political union. For now. But the lack of a long-range vision for the future leaves the European Union vulnerable to slow erosion.

Nicolas Barre

PARIS - Recapitalization of the banks, debt forgiveness for a large part of the Greek debt, strengthening of the European banks and its ability to intervene in favor of financial stability. One by one, the three tools that are supposed to stop the unravelling of the euro zone are being put into place, and that is good.

But let's not fool ourselves. If Angela Merkel is right to tell the Bundestag that the "current generation" of European leaders "shouldn't fail history," then an accord regarding the tools in question will not resolve the basic question nagging the European Union: Do we still want to live together?

The paralyzing rule of unanimity has long shown that the response is not so obvious. In the last several years we have in fact seen signs that Europe has doubts about its single destiny: a weakening of the European executive, with a deliberate choice to put people in charge who are unlikely to push the member states; the inability of the European Commission to embody the "European Interests;" and the member states' repossession of European duties. This all leads in the same direction: a slow regression away from the European spirit and towards nationalization. This seems to dash hopes that the emergence of powerful economic rivals was supposed to reinforce the importance of a strong Europe.

The euro crisis arose against this backdrop barely two years ago. As enthusiasm for the European project lost steam after the first decade of the 21st century, and mistrust deepened among the Union's people (for example, the French and Dutch "no" votes on the European Constitution in 2005), the fear that the euro zone would fall apart created a needed wake-up call. In the heart of the Union's headquarters, all the taboos disappeared: sometimes in a positive way, like with the European Central Bank's decision to buy up public debt; more worryingly in other cases, such as the bankruptcy of a sovereign nation that reveals extreme weaknesses nestled in the banking system.

Despite the latest accord, the threat of chaos from the unpolished plans remains in the face of a revitalized role of the European Central Bank and the beginning of budgetary federalism with the creation of a European emergency fund.

But these advances, obtained reluctantly and too often sheltered from public opinion, do not add up to a plan for the future. There is a major risk that once the emergency has passed, the European Idea will once again fade. Still looming is the temptation of individual nations to withdraw from the Union. It must be fought with political courage and vision of the sort that rarely manifests itself in the current generation of European leaders.

Read the original article in French

photo - alibaba0

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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.

It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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