When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
GAZETA WYBORCZA

How Ukranian-EU Dreaming Looks From Poland

For one prominent Polish columnist, all the European Union's panting for expansion to the East may lead it to choke on its own ambitions.

Border sign near the the Wielka Rawka mountain
Border sign near the the Wielka Rawka mountain
Jacek Żakowski

-Commentary-

WARSAW — “There can be no independent Poland without an independent Ukraine,” Polish activist and journalist Jerzy Giedroyc used to say. Though I fully agree, I must reject attempts to give this idea a broader meaning — in other words, that Polish national security depends on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, or at least its sphere of influence.

I think this point of view is unrealistic and unhealthy for both Ukraine and Poland. As a matter of fact, it is representative more of imperial thinking than a serious approach to the sovereignty of our neighbor.

Poland did well supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and its democratic aspirations. Having a democratic, stable and well-governed neighbor across our eastern boarder would be wonderful. This is an aim worth pursuing.

Like Jerzy Giedroyc, John Paul II or Lech Walesa, I cross my fingers hoping that one day Ukrainian people will be able to live in that kind of country. On the other hand, I doubt that persuading them to follow in our steps by joining the EU is the right thing to do. Ukraine in the EU is a wonderful dream that my romantic nature enjoys. But my pragmatic side believes that it is better to dream more modestly and learn from history.

The European Union is an empire, a soft one but quite typical. Its core extends between Paris, Berlin and Brussels. It has peripheries and semi-peripheries where we belong. It has common tradition, history, culture and civilization that bond its individual parts together.

Every empire's final destiny

Empires tend to gradually absorb their environments — of which Ukraine is a part — changing them into peripheries and semi-peripheries. Every empire stops its expansion at some point. For example, China could have swallowed Indo-China — a historic region in Southeast Asia, a former French colony covering the territories of today’s Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The U.S. has occupied New Mexico but did not go further to the south. Russia stopped at the borders of Mongolia and Afghanistan.

[rebelmouse-image 27087609 alt="""" original_size="800x600" expand=1]

The Poland-Ukraine border is also the EU-Ukraine border (Silar)

On the way to expansion, every empire meets difficulties that are unmanageable, impossible, or simply not worth the effort. If it manages to cross its natural borders, it returns to them quickly. That is what has happened with Russia and Afghanistan, China and Vietnam, and the U.S. and Mexico.

There are three reasons why empires stop growing. First of all, an empire can face resistance from another empire, which it cannot or does not want to fight. Secondly, it may encounter cultural barriers. Thirdly, it can lose the will to expand because of problems it has with the governance of the old territories.

The recent events around the Ukrainian accession to the EU show all of the symptoms cited above. It may mean that the EU has reached its natural eastern borders and therefore the idea of the Ukrainian accession should be replaced by a more realistic one — of a convivial neighborhood, perhaps.

Questions about the way this friendly approach should be manifested will obviously arise, but the answers will come much easier if we stay down-to-earth and realistic about our respective capacities.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Ideas

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Freedom on social networks can result in insults and defamation

Jean-Marc Vittori

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest