Europa United welcomes a new contributor to our team – Pawel Juszczyk.
Pawel is currently based in the UK, but is originally from Poland. In his first article for Europa United he makes a passionate statement about the current situation in Poland and also defends the democracies in Eastern Europe that some still consider too immature.
Treaty of Rome was signed 12 years after World War Two by, among others, West Germany. Negotiations leading to that Treaty started way earlier however, while the wounds of the war were still fresh and painful. After around fourteen years of adopting a democratic political system (depending on a country), many of the post-communist countries joined the European Union, and if the ex-Yugoslavian republics had decided to replicate EU success on their own, their version of the Treaty of Rome would have been already signed almost 15 years ago.
There are some people expressing opinion in regard to Central East European member states that these countries’ democratic systems weren’t mature enough at the moment of joining the Union. These people are hypocritical in my opinion, because they fail to judge the quality of democracy in the UK. This is the same democracy that refused to award the right to vote to its own citizens if they lived in the EU for long enough, and after a decades’ long campaign of misinformation on the subject of the EU people voted to leave. They refuse to make the same comparison when talking about USA, with its flawed system that delivered Trump, even though he lost popular vote. For them, any growth of far-right movements in France, Greece, and Germany is not in any way a sign of deficiency of democracy – in their eyes this is a problem of the East (excluding East Germany, which joined EU thanks to unification, so apparently all the problems of weak democracy don’t apply there). They are seeing the same symptoms, but a different disease – a disease of being underdeveloped, and inferior.
To me this is a sign of superiority in that we can join your club, but we cannot truly be a member. Poland and Hungary refusing refugees is undemocratic, yet the UK leaving the EU for equally xenophobic reasons, just seems hypocritical. I’m not supporting nor defending the Polish or Hungarian governments’ actions and rhetoric. In fact, I believe that what they are doing is damaging both countries, and in particular, Poland and its people. I am patriot, therefore I want to see my government face the consequences of its actions, because in the long run it will preserve and strengthen the rule of law.
It wasn’t by accident that most post-communist countries started knocking at the EU door at the same time. We had only one chance to join the Union, and the window of time was very narrow. We had just made a very painful move from a centrally managed economy into capitalism and we introduced democracy. And all this alongside the fact that next to us was a Russian nation that was still in shock after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is enough to ‘zoom-out’ in time to see the bigger picture here – circumstances like that are unique in our part of the continent.
Behind the scenes manipulation
The governmental assault on freedom of media and independence of the Polish judiciary systems isn’t a show of weakness of democracy in Poland, it shows that populists are trying to reshape institutions of state using democracy against itself. Murdoch, Assange, Fox News, Breitbart, the Daily Mail, the Sun and Russian troll farms are examples of the same strategy – to influence the outcome of a democratic vote with propaganda, which in effect means stealing the vote from the people. It is more clever to have private media providing people with easy to digest entertainment and propaganda instead of information and truth.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s de-facto leader, and Beata Szydlo, Polish Prime Minister
Kicking out any member of the EU for not complying with the EU law would teach anti-EU movements across the union one very dangerous lesson – that they don’t have to convince majority of population to leave, just enough for them to take control, so they could stop complying, and thus force the Union to expel them.
Member States are not going to defend the EU at all times, so it is time for the EU to defend itself by getting in touch with people directly through the Europe-wide media. Federal Europe needs federal TV-channels and news services, which will uphold the quality of public discourse, strengthen civil society in all of its territory and keep them informed and intellectually stimulated instead of asleep with their eyes wide open.
The past stays in the past
The Poland of today is under the control of religious lunatics who remember from school the anti-German songs from the times of World War Two. These are the same people who believed when they had been told before we joined the EU that the Germans are going to buy the land they lost after the war and there won’t be anything they would be able to do about it. The same people are deeply convinced that xenophobia and homophobia are virtues not vices, and that women exist only to bare children. They also believe that the Polish pope single-handedly defeated communism, and that the entire EU, including Poland itself, is under German total control.
This is Poland I want to see moving into the past. I want to see my country modern, open, smart, and intelligent. But that won’t happen outside of the European Union.