A wretched enlargement

Article published on April 14, 2003
community published
Article published on April 14, 2003

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Europe risks being transformed into a large 'Switzerland' in the service of diplomatic interests thanks to the logic of enlargement. Meanwhile, rights and democracy for Europeans and 'nearly-Europeans' can wait.

On the pavements of Tirana (an extremely poor, wonderful and ghostly city with an almost Ottoman atmosphere) there are no manhole covers over the drains. How is it possible to have ambitions and dreams if you always have to watch where you put your feet? Imagine men and women, real people, who are used to watching where they put their feet (and their dusty and muddy shoes), starting to raise their heads. Then imagine a door that is closing in their faces, on their hopes and on their possible future.

Prodi's developments in European policy over the last few years have increasingly transformed the EC area into a fortress, as closed as it is useless. And Europe risks transforming itself into a Switzerland through insurmountable, artificial borders that protect our ancestors, our official traditions, our prejudices and our mediocrity. The icon of European isolationism is the Balkans. Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia-Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania are excluded from this enlargement. But how can they refuse the Balkan states immediate entry to the EU? How can we snub the Bosnians after allowing for so long the massacres in Sarejevo with the excuse of Europe's impotence, its political dwarfishness and military insignificance? How can they forget Albania and treat it as a poor relation in the face of great progress in the former domain of a savage dictator like Hoxa?

Two logics

The enlargement, that referendums are making unanimous through pro-European rhetoric, is transforming the Balkan area into an enclave without prospect of integration in the short of medium term. And these countries risk remaining in a precarious position in the long term when you consider that the new entrants and the new isolationists (the 'francophones') will do anything to protect 'European privilege' for as long as possible. But could Europe opportunistically transform itself into mere privilege?

There are two ways of thinking about this enlargement. On one side, diplomatic logic considers enlargement as an instrument of foreign policy, power and geopolitical might and weight. And the climax of the foreign policy.

On the other hand there is the logic of rights and freedom that sees enlargement as merely completing the course of history that, with the fall of the Berlin wall, returned destiny to the men and women of Europe, a logic that tends to stop Europe attempting to build new borders. It is the end of the foreign policy.

Europeans and 'nearly-Europeans'

Nevertheless, these two ways of thinking are not always contrasting. The two visions are compatible and superimposed. The entry of all the countries from the East creates a double chance for diplomacy and rights. But, if the geopolitical interests have their watchdogs, platforms for this other Europe, that of rights, democracy and the new 'third state' made up of Eastern Europe and Caucasus, urgently need to be found. When Europe follows loyally the logic of power it is not impotent but it is wretched, wretched, wretched and guilty. Wretched and guilty over Bosnia and the Bosnians, wretched and guilty over Albania and the Albanians, wretched and guilty with regard to Europeans and 'nearly-Europeans' whose dream of emancipation and freedom is increasingly oppressed.