Saturday, April 24, 2004

Just what the European Union needs 

In a few days' time, on 1 May, 10 new countries, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, are officially joining the European Union. It's a bit of a mixed blessing - on the positive side, states such as Poland or the Czech Republic are finally being recognised as belonging to the European family of nations; on the negative side, countries which have only recently emerged from the communist prison are now submerging themselves in a quasi-socialist, anti-American superpower-wannabe.

Still, the influx of poor cousins with attitude might shake things up a bit in Brussels:

" 'Extremely stubborn,' 'very aggressive,' 'difficult to deal with,' 'major laggards,' 'the ones who will argue most' - and those are just some of the nicer things anonymous European Commission officials say about Poles as they prepare for membership of the European Union on May 1.

" 'They adore confrontation,' said Eneko Landaburu, head of the commission's enlargement service between 1999 and 2003. 'Even if they are working on a crazy basis, if they get hit on the head, they don't give a damn, they keep going. That's their way of doing things'."

European Union, you can't say you haven't been warned.

The UPI story recounts Chirac's recent rebuke to the New Europe for its support of the US ("They missed a good opportunity to shut up" and were "badly brought up") and unfortunately goes overboard with commentary: "This kind of talk scares the living daylights out of Poles, who saw their 1,000-year old country wiped off the map in the 19th century, razed by the Nazis during World War II, and dominated by the Soviet Union for much of the post-war period."

Actually, it doesn't scare the living daylight of our Poles. For centuries Poland did look up to France for political and cultural inspiration, and the French was the second language for Polish nobility and intelligencia. However, since having been left dangling by the French in 1939 and watching France play footsie with the Soviet Union thereafter, had somewhat cooled the awe and admiration for all things French, including the attitude.

There's some interesting re-alignments going on in Europe at the moment. Watch this space.


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