Hungary and Poland are very pragmatic nations, refusing to view the migrant crisis through the prism of political correctness. Instead, they see the fact that wave upon wave of non-Europeans are landing on Europe’s shores and that western countries feel obliged to take them in as an existential threat to the continent’s demographic balance, stability and identity.
Noting the problems large-scale immigration can bring, they refuse to be bullied into being part of that, and as long as the European Union remains a loose federation of nation states they have every right to refuse to accept immigrant quotas set by Brussels.
Unlike most of the western states in the Union, Poland and Hungary have no imperial legacy outside Europe, and no moral obligation to take in the poor and desperate from former colonies in Africa and beyond.
Also, having been buffer zones for so long – and in many respects still living that legacy – there is a strong resentment to bullying from more powerful states. In eastern eyes, Brussels in the 21st century should not be allowed to take on the role of Moscow in the 20th.
The division is deep and getting deeper. As The UK’s Times reported in a news item this week, “Hungary and Poland are accusing “woke” western Europe of using EU funds to impose a liberal agenda on socially conservative governments as a new schism emerges within the bloc.”
So while the differences of opinion are not just about waves of migration, as the daily points out, it is on this issue that Brussels has been trying to break the eastern states to its will with the threat of withholding EU funds. That, and the rather vague ‘rule of law,’ which seems to encompass everything that the western states don’t like about Hungary, as justice minister Judit Varga points out.
Will Hungary and Poland bend to Europe’s will? It’s unlikely. Noting the remarks of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has raised the possibility of restarting the European Union without Hungary and Poland, some observers swiftly concluded that this leaves the eastern rebels quaking in their shoes.
Much more likely is that Poland and Hungary, and possibly the two other members of the Visegrad Group – the Czech Republic and Slovakia – and maybe Slovenia, Croatia and one or more of the Baltic States, will say thank you for the last 30 years, but our destiny is different.
We are not there yet, but it may come to this: In Polish: Do widzenia, and in Hungarian: Viszontlátásra. Different languages but with the same meaning. Goodbye.
Ian Brodie is the Editor-in-Chief of European Daily News. He worked as a journalist based in Prague and Bratislava from 1992 until 2004 and has travelled widely throughout the eastern states of the European Union.
FILE PHOTO: Budapest