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Eastern Europe turning eyes from EU to Russia

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As the European project seems to be finding itself in havoc, many countries from the former Eastern bloc have started to realize that they were too hasty in deciding to join the "European family," which was never a "fair game" and where they were "left to stagnate," thus they are now looking to Russia, according to political scientist Phil Butler, reported Sputnik News (Russia).

"Former Soviet bloc countries are a kind of litmus tests that shows the EU was never a fair game in the first place. Germany and the central Europeans thrived for a time, while other nations were left to stagnate." political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe Phil Butler writes in his analytical article for New Eastern Outlook online magazine.

"The EU, NATO, and the western alliance have utterly failed the people of eastern Europe. The unrequited love of former Soviet bloc nations is slowly turning to scorn. The Euromaidan and ensuing civil war have laid bare an ideological and cultural divide ages old. With Brussels and NATO reeling from recent events, the fear mongering used to leverage aligned nations is losing its effectiveness," he says.
The political scientist then cites as an example the ongoing political processes in a number of Eastern European countries.

In Moldova, he says, there is "the general eastern shift to Russia." The country's new government was able to win because "the majority of Moldovans are for a strategic partnership with Russia," which the new team is advocating.

"In 2014, our current pro-European coalition in the parliament signed an agreement on association with the European Union, and, frankly, we got almost nothing in return from the European Union, while sustaining a major economic setback by losing the Russian market and our strategic partner. This is what happens when politicians who try to destroy age-old ties and traditions between our peoples come to power,” the author quotes Moldova’s former PM and current head of the Socialist party Zinaida Greceanîi as saying.

To the south and west of Moldova a score of EU member states discuss a “Brexit-like” abandonment of a globalist system many see as doomed to failure, he further says.

Hungary to the west has begun to lean towards Russia as well, he says, and Bulgaria to the south of Romania was "never fully a western satrap."
In a recent poll conducted in Hungary, the author says, 75% of those asked favored pragmatic relations with Russia as opposed to only 5% saying that “Hungary should not even talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin at all”.
"Upheaval in Bucharest over real or perceived corruption by leadership, Greece’s ongoing plight, the old sounds of Serbia and even countries like Slovenia – send a clear signal," he says.

The Turkish reset with Russia, especially the renewal of the south stream pipeline project mirrors the Russia tilt in Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Italy, and other formerly devout NATO-EU devotees, he further notes.
"No matter how one classifies all these geo-political moves, the clear trend in favor or Russia ties is crystal clear," he concludes.

***

The White Paper on the future of EU elaborated by Jean-Claude Juncker and his team last week offered five scenarios for the future development of the EU integration project. Visegrád was able to write a joint text that shows shared concerns. However, it is important to remember that different views on the future development exist within the group, reported Euractiv.

Juncker´s White Paper comes at the right time. Europe stands at a crossroads and it is important to realize that there are various directions that can be followed. The text of the Commission offers five scenarios: carrying on; nothing but the single market, those who want more do more; doing less more efficiently and doing much more together. These alternatives clearly show that there are more options than federalisation or the end of the EU on the table, contrary to what many expected amidst the hysteria after the British referendum.

Visegrád came with its response (more likely by coincidence than intentionally) the very next day. It is apparent from the joint declaration that Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary do not want federalisation, nor a return to only the single market, and that the emergence of the multi-speed Europe is particularly undesirable for them. However, this is where the Visegrád consensus ends.

The first scenario of the Commission´s menu – also known as “Bratislava plus” – is optimum for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the spirit of the Bratislava Declaration from September, the EU would focus on the progress in certain areas such as asylum and migration policy and the digital agenda, but would not enter riskier businesses such as a transformation of the EU budget.

On the other hand, we can read from the behaviour of the Polish and Hungarian statesmen that they favour the variant in which the EU would focus just on certain areas but would work more efficiently. Neither Viktor Orbán nor Jarosław Kaczyński think that EU should interfere in social policy. However, they support the European team in the protection of the bloc’s borders.

The main observation from the Warsaw meeting is the fact that the Visegrád leaders focused more on the institutional aspects than policies that the EU should develop. Conversely, in Juncker´s text, the word “institution“ is hardly to be found. Regarding the capacity to deliver, the Commission operates with the term “decision-making“.

In this regard, the Visegrád message is very defensive. Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava express their concerns about creating exclusive clubs, they demand the equality of member states and they want to involve national parliaments more in the political process that would control the subnational institutions.

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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Category: Politics
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