A short time after the US foreign and defesnse ministers’ visit to some European countries, especially Eastern Europe conutries, and holding separate drills of the Black Sea litoral states’ forces, the USS Mount Whitney, command ship of the United States Sixth Fleet, and the USS Destroyer Porter joined the joint military-maritime forces of Turkey, Romania, and Ukraine in the region; in recent days , with the corona pandemic crisis worsening in most european countries, there have been growing concerns about other subjects, especially the amassing of refugees on the Belarus-Poland border, intensification of differences in Bosnia and differences of opininos about exports of the russian gas to various parts of the green continent.
During his phone call with his French counterpart, Vladimir Putin brought up how the drills in the Black Sea region conducted by the US and its allies were provocative. Also, the presidents of Russia and France expressed their discontent about lack of progress in solving the Ukraine crisis and the deterioration of the situation in the Donbas region. In this regard, Putin hilighted the provocative aspect of the milmitary drills of Nato members in the Black Sea and the negative impacts these drills could have on Ukraine’s behavior.
For analyzing the region’s developments , first, the events occurred to the 11 countries that joined the EU untill 2004 must be studied from various angels . The Central and Eastern Europe coutries, weakened after the Soviet collapse, had to first open their borders, the worst impact of this was the demographic catstrophe during which the green continent was enriched by 10 million elite forces from these countries, among whom, a third having higher education, and it was these elite imigrants that propelled the west’s economic progress. However, there is little talk in the Brussels about this gigantic transfer of wealth, but nowadays the elite class is ashamed of itself because they were accomplices in crime in a demographic collapse that occures only during a war. For example, Croatia lost a fourth of its population. Also, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic countries lost a fifth and Poland a tenth of their population, a thing that has led to a social disaster. The hospitals were left by the doctors and the highest rate of fatality from Covid-19 belongs to Eastern and Central European countries. As said by Bita Zharovic, Oxford professor and top economist at EBRD in Eastern Euope, this part of Europ gets old before it can get rich.
Another unpredicted consequence was changing of the economic landscape in Eastern and Central Europe. Wealthy companies rushed to these countries and purchased major companies like Skoda of Czeck , Dacia of Romania, and big petrochemical and steel complexes at low prices. Also in Poland, foreigners own a half of the industries and retail sector through big companies. In Czech and Poland, foreign companies constitute half of the exports. In Hungary, foreigners constitute a 4/5th of the exports . in total, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s report, the exodus of work force from Eastern Europe to the West has enriched the Western European countries by $400 billion, money which has been invested in educating these people. This is far beyond what the Brussels offered. For example, Poland spent $160 billion for educating 2.6 of its citizens who immigrated and in return merely received 138 billion euros from the Europen Union.
At present, from one side, Central and Eastern Europe has become a key and exclusive market for Western Europe, and Germany’s hegemony is tied to this market, so that in 2020 , Berlin exported 179 billion euros to CEE, while Germany’s exports to the US, China and Russia was $103, $96, and $23 billion only, respectively, and from the other side, the west says Centrla and Eastern European economies have grown, but the GDP per capita reminds us that the challenges ahead are numerous. Poland has half the average European GDP per capita; also, Czech 2/3rd , Bulgaria 14% and Romania 18% , compared to that of Denmark. This is part of the challenges in Central and Eastern Europe, a matter which fans the flames of nationalism and populism.
Generally, the situation in the region, especially in the Western Balkans, does not have a promising perspective, and in other words, the situation is heading towards a dangerious precipice, whose symbols are the mass of immigrants at the borders, the political crisis in Bosnia, sporadic violence between Kosovo and Serbia, and political instability in Montenegro and North Macedonia. In this regard, Gerlich Radman, the Croatian foreign minister, has said the situation in the Western Balkans countries is deteriorating , the divisions are deepening and we see the situation a threat to democracy. He has also warned about requests for Bosnia’s separation and hinted at the recent decades’ ethnic clashes which resulted in the collapse of Yugoslavia and said that these new steps that are reminiscent of th 1990s events must stop. The subjects that were discussd at the meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers and according to the documents distributed among the 27 EU member states, general support for the integrity of the EU is in retreat and nationalism and political identity are on the rise. Therefore, the need was stressed for ramping up efforts and speeding the EU membership process of the countries of Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and North Macedonia. After Zoran Zaev, North Macedonia’s Prime Minister, survived impeachement, Josep Borell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs , said that formal negotiations for EU membership must immediately resume. He pointed to the membership negotiations and added that our situation has remained intact and we are expecting the first conferences in the shortest possible time. However, it is clear the EU is far from a censensus for admiting the new members, due to various reasons.
Ali Beman Eghbalizarch, Senior Expert of Europe
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)