OpEd

How Europeans become Europeans

D.Trump's Gogol again raises dilemmas about America in Europe

1.

A Kosovar girl went to the USA a few years ago to finish her last year of high school, and the greatest experience for her was that she came back as a European.

In her self-perception, raised by the successive repetition that "Kosovo will enter Europe", Kosovo was a territory that was somehow on the European continent (as part of something called the Balkans) but would one day be Europe.

At her American school, where the vast majority were either immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants—Korean and Brazilian, Mexican and Nigerian, Italian and Irish—it was still easier for her classmates to classify her as European than to confess its complicated.

And, like this, he returned to Kosovo, as a European.

2.

An analogy can be drawn to what is happening these days to the public discourse of many EU countries. Different Europeans - French and Irish, Spanish and Estonian, that is, those who, being in the EU, do not have a dual interpretation of their European identity like the Kosovar girl had - are thinking, writing and talking about how they should be responsible for their continent, that is, to be European.

The biggest driver today may be Donald Trump and his possible return as president. The entire European continent (with the exception of some authoritarian enclaves) was as anxious about the unpredictability of this man's actions as the American president. Now, in week by week analysis, the question of the American presence in NATO is raised with Donald Trump in his second presidential term. And it is enough to make even a distant speculation the possibility of the US leaving NATO to feel the collective insecurity: NATO was founded as an alliance by the US not only to protect Europe from the Soviet Union (namely Russia today), but also to prevent Europeans from going to war against each other, a tradition that was hundreds of years old. Without America, Europe remains not only without the necessary pillar of defense, but also without the ally whose presence has built Europeans' trust in each other. How would it be done without this instrument of inter-European trust?

But it is one after the other the great and potential wars that will push the Europeans to seek or accept to be more European. Russia's war against Ukraine, now a candidate state for membership in the European Union, poses the essential question: what would be done with this country if it were not for the friendly reactions of the USA and Great Britain to help defend this country? Or what would happen if for some reason (such as US domestic politics, ie the presidential election) military aid to Ukraine was paralyzed or weakened? If the future of Ukraine is in the EU, shouldn't the EU member states also ensure this future militarily?

Israel's war in Gaza is another example. The transatlantic community has been unanimous in Israel's right to protection after the Hamas pogrom against the Jews in Israel (and I am describing it this way because it was a Hamas military operation targeting any Jewish child, woman or man that would come their way). . However, the transatlantic community cannot be unanimous when Israel in Gaza is waging a war of collective punishment, waged against every Palestinian child, woman and man.

A Europe built after the genocide of the Second World War cannot support equating Israel's legitimate right to defend itself with the denial of the Palestinians' right to life.

To the question of what awaits the European citizen in a war in Ukraine or Gaza, where the military and political influence is proportionally greater, a much more distant dimension will be added, that of the friction between China and Taiwan, which will to be direct friction between China and the US.

The European citizen who may be disinterested in politics may find valuable information that the strengthening of Russia in Ukraine would be a signal to threaten the future area, the Baltic. Or, that the expansion of the war in the Middle East could bring a new wave of refugees from that part of the world and a mass of the European population of Arab origin or Muslim faith, who see every day how worthless a child's life is a Palestinian woman compared to the child and woman of any other nation.

And any military friction between China and Taiwan would jeopardize the shipment of Taiwan-made semiconductors and other technology elements that are vital to industrial production in Europe.

3.

How will Europeans be more European, or will Europeans be more European, these are two valid questions?

The questions are not new. They were laid out almost half a century ago by General De Gaulle in France (albeit in other forms) and are always formulated with an unspoken hypothetical formulation: how would Europe do without the USA?

This question was asked at the time when it was simultaneously recognized that the greatest European power is the USA, tending to the NATO alliance and thus guaranteeing the prosperity of a democratic Europe that collapses its state borders in an unprecedented way in favor of solidarity of political and economic union.

Now, when it comes up again, it comes at a time when the EU is going through its own new cycle of debate on re-arrangement, including proposals for this re-arrangement to provide more majority decision-making and less deadlock with the use of vetoes.

But, like any other debate, it always takes place with the stubborn presence of realities that, being there, are ready for an immediate test of any hypothesis in policy planning. The Western Balkans is that stubborn presence of realities that will stand as an immediate test. And this presence will test - let's take them as main - two essential issues of the policies of Europeans who want to be European. One is how to create a security environment for the Western Balkans without the USA in the conditions when in this region there is a clearly identifiable possibility of creating a separate zone that is an opponent of the Euro-Atlantic community? Two, how to integrate this region into the Euro-Atlantic community, when a critical part of it, related to the notion of revising the Serbian national issue, is clearly against the Euro-Atlantic community?

These questions are summed up in a historical inconsistency, when the integration of the Western Balkans in the Euro-Atlantic community should take place, but a part of this region, which will return to the lost wars of the nineties, the "euro" part of the Euro-Atlantic community sees in form of an ATM that must give money, while the "Atlantic" part, namely NATO, is not seen at all in that dichotomy.

4.

Europeans who want to be more European are in a cyclical predicament. They are dealing with Ukraine, Gaza or Taiwan and with hypotheses about what the West would look like without the American role until now - something that is not new, that is, it has been elaborated since De Gaulle. However, in 2024 they must first pass the test in the Western Balkans. Unlike the girl who went to finish high school in America, the matriculation test for political Europe is conducted in the southeast of the continent.