‘Down with America, down with stupidity, praise to us, long live us Europeans! Marinetti, Mayakovski, Blair, Joschka! Bums-fallera, the Social Europe – the Europe of all citizens within Society – never became true. …
– Karl Martin Sinijaerv in: ‘Ein gemaechlicher Selbstmord?’
A text by Serge van Duijnhoven
- Myth or reality
Ovidius writes about the kidnapping of Europe in Books II and III of his Metamorphoses. The prying omnipotent eye of Zeus the womaniser, fell on the beautiful young daughter of a Fenician king, named Europe. While she was picking flowers in a meadow, Zeus appeared to her as a white bull. Enchanted by the overwhelming beauty and power of the animal, Europe approached the quiet bull and offered flowers to his snowy white lips. The bull licks her hand with his tongue. The princess is tempted to mount his back and Zeus rushes away with Europe on his back. To complete his act of kidnapping he jumped into the waves and swam across the Mediterrenean sea to Crete – the invisible island -, where Zeus made his naïve princess his love-girl and even his kin; one of the ladies in his ever expending Olympic harem. The offspring that resulted of this not so elegant act of seduction, consisted of three strong sons – heroes in the true sense of the word; half man/half god. Europe’s natural past was brutally taken away and her identity reshaped according to the hands of her master. She lost her family and motherland, but was bestowed with divine grace instead. Her name was even given to the continent that adopted her.
Of course, for us modern day Europeans ‘Europe’ is much more than a myth. It is also more than a name. It is our very real historically grown environment, our biosphere in which and on which we’ve all grown physically and mentally. At this time the task is upon us to ‘kidnap’ the future of our continent ourselves, without help from Zeus – and bring it to a new destiny. Be it the destiny of decline and self-destruction, as the Estonian poet Karl Martin Sinijärv only half ironically warned in his article ‘Ein gemaechlicher Selbstmord’ as published in the anthology Europaexpress; ein literarisches Reisebuch – or the destiny of a newly born and nobler Europe that can finally surmount our savage inclination to rage war as well as the humiliating fate of unjustly distributed wealth and large scale poverty. To die or to be born again – is that the question? Or is there no choice but to sail on as best we can on the winds of chance, and to see – as the old Dutch sailors-saying goes – where finally the ship will end up. In which harbour, on which shore, at some cliffs or on a sunny beach…
2. Bright future or sweet suicide?
‘Does Europe have an ideology?’, is the question that Karl Martin asks himself in ‘Ein gemaechlicher Selbstmord’. The poet answers it by saying: ‘I hope not. And if yes, then please an Estonian ideology…’
If our destiny is to rot away anyway, KMS seems to suggest in his characteristic cheerful way, than better to rot away at home surrounded by the intimacy of our loved ones. We did not raise from tragic era’s of obedience and totalitarianism, only to end up being kidnapped towards an uncertain future by a bureaucratic political elite in Brussels that does not know the difference of ruling over or serving the citizens by whom they were elected. Instead of servants, the bureaucrats act like corporate executive bosses. The arrogant way in which Brussels neglected the decision of the sovereign people of the Republic of Ireland to not ratify the treaty of Nice. A highly undemocratic act of usurpation, that puts back the clock with many years – instead of putting it forward, as intended by the communal adventure.
Please do not get me wrong. I consider myself to be a europhile, not a eurohater. I live in the heart of Brussels, and some echo of the stupor and trembling that Zeus must have felt in his heart – or his heart and soul together: the ‘thumos’ as the Greeks called it – while glancing at the beautiful fresh maiden picking flowers in the meadow, I clearly do feel too when I look at our continent. But love should be a mutual thing. Whoever loves, respects. And listens to the other’s voice. Brussels acts as a spouse who is married to his wife for such a long period already, that he has forgotten why he actually did so. He can’t remember. The time she was worshipped as a noble treasure is long, long gone…
To give Europe the potential strength and splendour it could attain and does deserve, Brussels should be more involved with the European citizens from all of its corners. But the citizens in their turn should be much more involved with the rest of their continent too.
In most articles and economic supplements in the weekly magazines and daily newspapers that have ritually been published on the occasion of recent Eurotop meetings, lots of aspects were being discussed in the various fields of economics, politics, safety and military strategy. About culture however, generally not a word was uttered. A painful omission of the various journalists, or a clear sign of the times? When talking about Europe and the EU mercantile, economical and safety issues are on top of all the agendas. Culture, usually the basis for any cohesion among people(s), seems not te be an issue at all. ‘Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral,’ Bertold Brecht once wrote quite sharply. However, in the long history of Europe this has not always been the case.
July the 16th of the year 2000 György Konrad, president of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, held a speech in the German capitol in front of onehundred European writers from 43 countries that share a common European heritage. ‘If the EU means something more than an economical flirt,’ Konrad pronounced, ‘you also have to show some willingness to look into the soul of other, fellow Europeans. By means of reading literary books e.g., written in other European countries.’ Konrad held his speech on the Bebelplatz in front of the Von Humboldtuniversiteit, the very place where the Nazi’s organized their public burning of books on 10th of May 1933. This is also the place where the Israelian sculptor Misha Ullman built a bookdepot underground, with white empty bookshelves that are visible from the streetlevel through a transparent plaque under which the gloomey prophecy of Heinrich Heine from 1810 is written: ‘Wo mann Buecher verbrennt, werden einmal auch Menschen verbrennt werden…’
In the 19th century national cultures were constructed with help of the imagination of writers, scientists and historians. In the 21st century, we see each other in front of the challenge to construct a new Europe and hopefully this construction will not only take place on an administrative and political level. The foundation of a European culture will be a task for the younger and coming generation: not only politicians and businessmen, but also artists, writers, moviemakers.
‘For me personally it means,’ Konrad told in Berlin, ‘that nobody can rule uniquely over Europe. Many have tried, but all of them failed. None of them could beat the strength of European individuals and their humanistic values…’
The strength and prosperity of Europe is closely intertwined with its pluralism. The bouquet blossoms when the flowers open, without the entire bundle falling apart. The binding role of the EU still happens to be so superficial, that not more than 0,1% of the budget is being spent on culture (that is twenty times as little as in the field of defence). Europe should stimulate the translation and co-finance the publication of books throughout all of the European countries. This should become something natural, because exactly books can enhance the understanding among nations and people. The EU should make it one of its principles to also spread around the production of relevant artistic films and music from other European countries. A European literature already existed a long time before the idea of a European Coal and Steel Community came about. The mere existence of a European literary and cultural awareness fortunately are not depending on the EU, but when the reverse is going to be the case (when the EU remains ignorant of the specific culture and literature of its member states) there will be a growing indifference between fellow citizens that will definitely harm the cohesion of the Union in the end.
3. ‘What kind of beer is that Erdbeer?’
‘What kind of beer is that Erdbeer?,’ the Armenian cinematographer David Matevossian, asked me last year on the terrace of an icecream store in the heart of Dortmund. The Babelonia among the huge variety of Europeans is not something that is likely to disappear in a Europe that is taking a chance in getting closer. Unifying the languages and cultures should not be a goal of the EU; getting to know – and respect – each other better, however, should be. The current balance is not very hopeful. Dutch people, e.g., prefer to eagerly reach out for the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, rather than being interested in the books, records or films from the Baltic, the Balcans, or the Iberic peninsula. In Belgium, the situation is even more awkward. Even openminded writers from the frenchspeaking part of the country admit never having read their compatriot nobelprize candidate Hugo Claus. And on the other side of the spectre the situation is not much better, it seems. In order not to let the diversity perish in mercantile unification, European citizens will actively have to show their willingness to get better acquainted with their fellow Europeans. An exchange of translations of literary works from all European countries, is not a luxury but a necessity, and the founding of a European Literary Translation & Production Fund could be a first essential step in the engagement of all member- and candidate-memberstates.
Apart from the mutual cultural heritage that Europe should share among all of its nations and citizens, establishing a common military force is one of the most important and urgent tasks of a United Europe. The existence o a European army is essential for the monitoring of conflict situations and the defence of peace and stability on the continent. In the full embrace of a EU with common borders, shared economic interests and an efficient highly equipped transnational army, people who were or perhaps still feel like enemies, will grow ever closer as citizens of the same entity. The alternative for a continent that was and is ethnically so diverse, is the grim reality of continuing strife – as we have seen happening in the last decade just outside the borders of the current EU.
I lived for some period in Sarajevo during the war of the nineties (1992-1995), and I spoke to many people from UNPROFOR, the military protection force of the UN, as well as to Bosnian soldiers of the ‘armija’; both, remarkably, were absolutely convinced that the existence of a European Union Security Force could and would have prevented the horrendous carnage that took place on the Balcans in the last decennium. While Western Europe was hedonistically consuming the peace dividend that was the result of ‘winning’ the cold war – threehundredthousand southern slavs, perished in Inferno- or Medieval-like combinations of ice and fire, hunger and cruelty, in beleaguered and ethnically cleansed cities or villages. Ljepo selo ljepo gore , small villages big fires – as the relentlessly violent movie about the Yugoslav secession wars has it. However gruesome and atavistic the recent history of massacres and cruelty on the Balcans may seem, it is good to remember that such horrors are not limited to ‘the backside’ of our continent. In fact, the history of Europe is a story of recurrent and ongoing wars; peace on the continent unfortunately has been a very rare thing. A matter of short breaks between long and lasting periods of terror on the European stage. Western and Eastern countries alike have committed cruel and barbaric acts on the battlefields and in the trenches of the continent, and even more so in regular civil areas; to think that the horrors of the Balcans are ‘un-European’ is quite arrogant and misleading. Since her kidnapping by Zeus the Fenician flowerpowerprincess has been forced to witness – from her Olympic balcony – the butchering of at least one hundred million of her offspring. Hundred million bodies to cry over, hundred million souls to mourn – each and every one of them her children – cut in pieces, burned, shot, bombed. Etrusks and Romans, Vandals and Vissigots, Slavs and Illyrians, Francs and Celts, Vikings and Saxons, Spanish and Dutch, Dutch and Flemish, Polish and Russians, Serbs and Albanians, and then the civil wars and bloody conflicts that have split apart Russia, Spain, Yugoslavia. In West-Flandres, the poppy’s grow exactly as big and red in springtime as on the sacred fields of Kosovo Polje. The ghastly monuments and remains of dead soldiers and slaughtered people mark the soil all over the continent. From the Fenician princess’ point of view, on her Olympic balcony, all wars on the continent in fact are civil wars. The heads of state of the different nations, and the fanatics in the several armies and press-bataljons, could only proclaim superiority over one’s neighbours, by radically ignoring the mutual heritage that European monks, scientists and artists built up in the course of more than three millennia. An awareness of being – apart from national – last but not least also a European citizen, could form a powerful antidotum against the dangerous virus of nationalism and the pitiful effects of dementia precox.
The EU grew out of a free trade zone with background thought to avoid new European wars but several nations still do not trust each other militarily. The English shall never forget Covent Garden and the attempts of Hitler to destroy capitol of Britain with V-2’s. Had Hitler already had nuclear missiles, he would have certainly used them. The French generals in their turn shall never forget the massive devestation two world wars brought on their territory: the humiliation of the defeat in 1871 and the millions of victims that were caused by German nationalist rhetoric and fascist ideology about ‘Lebensraum’, ‘arian supremacy’ or ‘das Neue Europa’. Andre Malraux once said he loved Germany so much that he could only be glad there were two of them (BRD and DDR). And General De Gaulle, in France a sacred man, learned both the officers in the army and the parliamentarians in Paris that it is an illusion to think that the big European nations really can be friends. ‘Nations have no friends, only interests.’
But perhaps the nations have more to gain with each other than to fear of each other. ‘Sure, I would be delighted to talk with Europe, but then they will first have to give me a telephone number,’ was the wisecrack of Henry Kissinger in the beginning of the seventies, about cooperation with the European Union. Lieutenant-general Briquemont, the sad hero of Sarajevo, uttered that ‘if the future European army will count as many chiefs of staff as there are nationstates, I’d rather choose for Nato. There, at least, everybody speaks English…’ The negative and even disastrous side-effects of Eurobabylon culminated during the tragedy of Srebrenica in July 1995. Because of serious miscommunications between Dutch, French and other European military responsibles, the necessary airstrikes that could stop the Serb offensive were postponed until it was too late. The failure to act swiftly, ended in the extermination and disappearing of seventhousand Bosnian muslims.
Notwithstanding this tragic example, something indeed has changed since the days of Kissinger. Europe does have a telephone number to dial in case of emergencies (the number of Javier Solana Madariaga; high commissioner for European security matters), and in 2004 a EU-army will be made effective; a protection force of 60.000 professional and well equipped soldiers. For the first time since the end of the cold war, American generals are expressing concerns over a trans-Atlantic military force. The Americans are absolutely convinced that the world order of Bush sr. should last. The geostrategical interests of America are supposed to be served by the flowerpicking maiden called Europe. ‘You are either with us, or you’re with the terrorists,’ is the warning through which Washington tries to blackmail its western allies and ensure its singular power.
But: who wants to die for Europe? So far, the citizens of the EU and other European candidates, have not shown much enthusiasm towards a common military policy. Even a purely peacekeeping mission like in Macedonia in the summer of 2000 was only supported by fifteen percent of the whole community. While dying for one’s fatherland may not be such an attractive ideal anymore for youngsters among all European nations, very few would be willing to die for the continent. For Americans the ‘star spangled banner’ and the ‘stars and stripes’ are holy regalia which evoke the strongest emotions of pride. For the European blue banner with its circle of yellow stars leaves most Europeans show either contempt, scepticism or indifference.
During the last European elections, only 29 percent of the Dutch electorate took the effort to cast its vote. The Dutch aren’t ‘anti-Europe’, they just don’t care. The other Europeans are ‘business partners’, certainly not candidates one could share something like an emotional bond with. The business of business is business, not love or brotherhood… Instead of with Europe, the Dutch flirt with America. Their pretty faces turned towards the Atlantic, they are showing the continent most of the time their ass. Concerning all important issues (be it the coming expansion, the power of the Commission, or the European defence policy), the Dutch are closing the line. Now that even the English government is starting to launch serious plans for a European ground law (see the proposals of Jack Straws in February 2002) his Dutch colleague Jozias van Aartsen has been persistent in looking away from the future with an unsatisfied grim, saying: ‘I really don’t care about far away perspectives and illusionary castles built from European clouds…’
A Unified Europe could offer a very welcome alternative to a monopolary world of growing globalisation and Pax Americana. Europe should be a key element to the restoration of a multipolar world and form a counterbalance and serious challenge to the hegemony of the United States and the culture of globalisation. A divided Europe is not strong enough to do this. The weakness of Europe – its huge diversity that in the past has lead to endless wars and destruction – could under the respectful guidance of the Union, eventually become its strength. Because of the dialogue between different nations and cultures, the openness towards the others, the endless diversity of all ethnic groups and their preferences Europe is the best protected freemarket model in the world. Exactly this makes Europe an ideal katalysor between e.g. the Islamic world and the US, Israel and Palestine where lasting solutions can only be achieved through a constructive dialogue, and not through bombardments… For now, in this unfinished symphony of our partly united Europe, Brussels still has to find its right tone and its trust, so that it can speak with a louder voice.
4. The Brussels Curtain
“eens zal ik zo bedreven zijn in het patience-spel van Europa/ dat ik met lege handen overblijf.” (Eugenijus Ališanka)
It is quite obvious to see and realize that it would be much to our advantage to move ahead with the complex process of unification. However, in a different way than the ambivalent halfhearted measures to let so many near-candidates wait for years and years in the tutorial dug out. And also in a different way as to count half of the continent out of the Europe that has confisquated its name. The EU cannot longer afford to linger all along; the heads of state have to commit themselves to broaden the Union in the coming years. When they do not succeed in embracing the member states of Central, Baltic and Eastern Europe, the stability of Europe is at stake. A unified and wealthy ‘first-degree’ Europe is created, and a divided and poor, unstable ‘second-degree’ Europe is left behind. Networks of big criminal organisations will jump into the vacuum that is growing between the two Europes. Criminal organisations who were in former days only dealing drugs, are now concentrating largely on smuggling humans and cheap eastern European prostitutes into the west. The workingmethod, means of transportation, and deliverylines are almost similar to those of the drugbusiness.
One serious problem is becoming the wide, uncontrolleable green border area’s in the countries that are already or will become the bufferzone between the two Europe’s. Nature area’s with hills and forests that are to wide to search behind every tree and in every ditch, or to close them off from the outside world. Furthermore, there is the problem of corruption at the local borderpolice. The chief inspector of Interpol Jurgen Storbeck found out that those who want to emigrate to the West, simply can buy a one way ticket in Estonia to Great Britain for 11.000 Euro. For Sweden the price is 6.000 Euro, Greece 8.8000 Euro. In Sweden, it seems that whole shiploads of girls from Estonia are getting off the boat to disappear into prostitution…
A century ago it was the iron chancellor who found it difficult to make concessions to a banker, Josef Nagelmacker, from Brussels who dreamed of a continent on which one could travel without too many disturbances and delays in luxury wagons from East to West and from Nort to South. Bismarck was afraid that that train of the banker one day could be used by the ageold rival France for ‘wrong and anti-German purposes’. Now that the bloodfeud between Berlin and Paris is broken and the dagger has been burried for over fifty years already, it are precisely those governments of the EU nations who are fighting hard to block people from travelling to the West for ‘wrong’ or ‘unjust’ (read: economic) purposes. The Iron Curtain has been replaced by the Brussels Curtain, that is almost as well guarded and even more deadly in effect.
Even though the Cold War is over, the great divide on our continent remains. Jerzy Lugowoy, the forest inspector of the Polish national park of Bialowieza, discovered in july 2000 by accident a tunnel that people had dug underneath the Belorussian border. An anachronism, one would say, from the era of the Warsaw Pact, that anyhow shows us the reality of a new frontline within Europe. The borderfences between Poland and Belorus, consist of wooden towers with gunners, electronic wires and strokes with shoveled yellow sand to reveal footprints. The people who try to flee through the tunnel to the West, are being arrested. Not only Belorussians, Russians, Polish smugglers, but even Kaukasians, Afghans and Vietnamese have tried to crawl their way to freedom. To hate refugees for trying to flee and settle down here makes about just as much sense as those rocklovers on Woodstock who started shout and sing at the darkening clouds or a roaring thunderstorm: ‘no rain, no rain, no rain!’ It is ridiculous that ministers of the EU-members are focussing on the aim of making the image of their very own countries less attractive towards asylum seekers and other (economical) refugees. Probably the only good way to do this, would be to lower the monthly wage in the West to the lever of the countries outside the European Union.
We can dig no trenches deep- or walls high enough to keep people from fleeing to where they are not being chased or where there’s food and a toilet that works. In the six weeks that me and Karl Martin and hundred other writers were roaming in luxury wagons through Europe, thousands of people tried to sneak their way into the castlewalls of fortress Europe. How many women, men and children did succeed we will never know precisely. The statistics only speak on behalf of those who failed. The ones that were caught along the highways, parkinglots and the containerharbours on their way towards the source of the bright white light- and laserbeams of the patroltowers all along the coasts and borders of Europe. Like salamanders they are attracted by a flame that they would eventually even perish by. The cynical score of the fourtytwo days:
¶ the bodies of fiftyeight Chinese refugees discovered in a Dutch truck arriving in Dover between little bottles of Yakult bioyoghurt, cardboard stacks of Kellogs cornflakes, en boxes full of taco-chips. The victims were suffocated in their own breath.
¶ around eighthundred Africans, Kurds, Afghans and Kosovars found dead, drifting in the water or laying at the rocks and beaches of the Street of Gibraltar and the coastline of the Adriatic Sea. Their shaky patera-boats went down in the waves, or the smugglers threw them overboard because they prefer to do that than to be caught by the coastguard.
¶ tens of mutilated, discarded and run over bodies of refugees, found on the middle or the side of the hightways and roads in Italy and France, presumably after they’ve been kicked or pushed out of the truck by fellow passengers. Dead, or still alive?
¶ three Russians who were found smashed and frozen to death between the landing gear of the airplane, nonetheless their thick double wintercoats, sweaters, shawls, and gloves. They hoped to reach Schiphol. Two of them reached the destination, the third one almost: he came down as a human icecube in the field near Oudekerk a/d Amstel, about three kilometres away from the airport.
5. On est tous des étrangers…
Herself being originally abducted from Northern Africa, the Fenician princess who is looking down from the Olympus at her continent, probably shows a lot more mercy for the refugees that are trying to reach Europe, than her inhabitans. Imagine how it must have been for this young and pretty girl, to be kidnapped on the back of a white bull towards an island where she ended up being a total stranger. A mortal among immortals, a mistress among jealous spouses, a foreigner who had nothing in common with the clan of her lover, who so arrogantly was convinced of the fact that they were the protagonists in the cosmological drama of the earth and the whole universe. Imagine how the clique around Zeus must have looked down upon this girl! The only reason Europe was granted asylum, was because of the fact that Zeus adopted her into his extended family. In return for this privilige, Zeus could fuck her whenever he wanted. She had no choice but to obey by the will of her kidnapper, not unlike many of the Eastern European girls who are being brought to the West by the Albanian or Bulgarian mafia, who after initial investments (buying, shipping them to the EU) have to pay back the mob – money and in natura.
Anti-immigration measures always are easy gain for conservative politicians during national elections. Many Europeans may forget however, that not so long ago Dutch, Belgian, Irish, Italian, Spanish, Portugese fortune seekers massively left their homecountry, driven by exactly the same ‘wrong’ or ‘unjustified’ motive of poverty and the dream of a better existence in some foreign land like Canada, Argentina or Australia. The European fugitives had to work till they burst, and life in their new habitat sure was tough, but at least they were never put for months or years in centers guarded by policeforces, fenced-off with barbed wire like in prisons or concentration camps.
In Europe’s opinion, those righteous people of ‘honest’ or ‘true’ European ethnoi who want immigrants out of ‘their’ country, should not be too sure about the basis for their claims and demands. Where does one have to draw the line in determining who were or are the original inhabitants of the land? The people whose ancestors lived here one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand years ago? Not one human tribe refrained from travelling and migrating in the struggle to survive. Before settling down in agricultural communities, we were all hunters and nomads. ‘Here on the Balcans nobody lives in his own house,’ I heard people say in Bosnia during the war. ‘Everybody lives in the house of some other family that was forced to sell their property, or that was kicked out in a more intimidating way.’ Just like they themselves had to flee when the soldiers came.
HOMEWARD BOUND / ON EST TOUS DES ETRANGERS
All strangers are born as children of their families
All strangers have played in houses they called home
On est tous des étrangers. Travellers coming round
wandering through a space that everybody
has to confisquate. But where there’s a will
there’s a way. Stubborness is what drives us all
and drives us crazy. To live fully from the land
the soil in which the seeds are spread with the hand.
The hair on our heads is as the cane on our roofs.
Our cracked skin is as the eroded walls of our shags.
Transparency is the scare of our bones. Our voice cries
at best for help. What we are seeking is rest.
Asilum in eternity. What we are is where we have been
falling: cerebral hunters and hunted prey.
We are game in the woods. A hungry flock in nature’s
hungry mouth. We are obedient and futile. Tiny
particles floating around. Our names have been assigned
and even the gift of life was not our choice.
Every single good we own and everything we are
is borrowed, shareware, bonds and loans. Property
of Time alone; that vicious, greedy stockbroker
and billionaire, who having been born without a soul
supports no other soul as company. Who has no friends
or relatives, and rules the earth
as if he were the master of the universe.
We owe him all – as he insists – and everybody has to pay.
His will is merciless. No exceptions, no delays.
Who prays for help, will be harrassed.
Who disobeys, will disappear. He holds us hostage
Nobody is free to stay. We have to leave and
sneak out like thieves. When evening comes
we pack our bags. We cross the border
in the thick of night. Our exitpapers are called:
– from: The Golden Wings; an anthology of world poetry (India 2002)
The permanent flood of economic refugees is the price the West has to pay for her own successtory or for her arrogance and pretentiousness. The EU simply confisquated the name of the continent for the sake of her political Union and the new currency, the euro. The EU in fact DID kidnap Europe – withouth caring about the fellow Europeans who are not accepting it that they have to sit and watch the train go bye without them. And if the train won’t come to them, they will come to the train. As simple as that. That so many refugees try to hop on that train, risk their lives while trying to climb over twenty feet high walls of electric barbed wire, crawl and run towards and through the tunnel, is not surprising now that the fifteen Western members of the EU are seriously thinking of postponing any further expansion of the Union for the time to come.
6. ‘Evropa; the Europe that DOES care about you!’
The East-European countries waiting in line to be rewarded with a standing place in the antichambre of the EU, are being explicitly humiliated, time and time again. They have a book with 80.000 pages full of rules thrown at them, rules and criteria that they have to adopt before the passing of the deadline of 2004. Even after this deadline, the citizens of e.g. Poland will not be allowed to travel freely within the EU (unlike their fellow EU-citizens), because Germany is afraid for the influx of cheap Polish labour. The Europeans who do not want to wait until the mercy of Brussels is given to them, will continue to have to squeeze and smuggle their way through to the West.
The usurpation of Europe is already so complete, and EU-citizens identify themselves so drastically with their continent, they can hardly imagine that there are still Europeans living outside the Schengen countries. Many times, even aboard the multinational Literature Express, I heard people cast their coubts whether Russia, the Oekraine, Belorus, Georgia, Armenia, Macedonia were in fact still Europe… In any case one agreed that these countries were part of a ‘different Europe’. Which one exactly? Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe, Eur-Asia perhaps, or simply a secondclass Europe? Neither Brussels nor the citizens of the EU seem to care a whole lot about the area’s that were lying behind the former Iron Curtain. ‘Streetwalks and flatbuildings’, was the minimal characterization that a quite famous Dutch modern artist gave of the vast spaces of Eastern Europe. And she made a face as if she had just stepped into some dogshit.
How people at the other end of the Brussels Curtain feel about the EU’s arrogance and usurpation of the continent, is perhaps best demonstrated by the advertising slogan of a Serbian insurance company called Evropa, saying: ‘We are the Europe that DOES care about you’.
Europe has reached the point, where the many roads of a divided continent could either merge or lead into abyss. Both sides have to decide – to jump now over the ridge and construct a bridge, or to let the gap between them grow ever bigger – with all the social consequences this will have? Does the Union have the guts to make a big leap, now that it stands on the edge? The risk is very real that a further proceeding will put much more pressure on the financial reserves in Frankfurt than foreseen. But what then is the maximum amount of euro’s we are willing to spend on bringing the Unification process started by Monnet, to a good ending? What will be the profit of reducing the risk of a new large scale European war, and increasing free-trade among a huge variety of European countries? How much is it worth? And how much do we care? And do we rather choose to be prudent and keep a low profile for some period to come, so that we do not have to put our privileged and carefully constructed welfare states at risk? And in that last case, what are we going to say to our voters when they are complaining about ever rising numbers of asylum seekers and immigrants travelling through and from the poorer countries of the continent? Are we going to proceed with the construction not of bridges but of ever higher walls around the edges of our territory?
Europe finds itself partially in a somewhat similar choise or situation Germany was in, right after the Berlin wall came down. The question that Europe should ask herself, is of huge historical importance: are West and East going to reunite, and if so – what will be the consequences? And what is likely to happen if a (re)unification is being postponed to a much later date? Helmut Kohl made a clear choise. Michael Gorbachev did not like it, but the events were too overwhelming from stopping them. The West of Germany has sacrificed a lot for the East part of the country. The divide is still there, in many ways. But in other ways the country is cut open again, the political centre is back in Berlin (much more east than Bonn), and there is a free flow of persons, goods, ideas, culture. Berlin is one of the most interesting cities to live in, and it is not always easy to know whether you are in East of West… Concerning Europe, it is my strong opinion that – now that we have reached this point of Divide – it is better to reach out and start building that bridge, than to linger on separately as Brussels is inclined to do. Let us be at least the directors of our own destiny, instead of playing minor roles in that very simplistic all-American sequal called ‘New World Order Part II’. Let us proceed in our own spirit, in accordance with the myth of Zeus who took Europe on his back, and swam towards ‘the invisible island’. That sunendowed destination from where the sparkle of Europe soon enlightened the whole continent.
© Serge van Duijnhoven, Brussels 2011