Eastern Europe did not join EU to ‚swap Moscow for Brussels,’ says German scholar
Proud Eastern European nations did not join the European Union to be lectured by “know-it-all” Westerners and find themselves dominated by Brussels after decades under the dictates of Moscow, a German scholar familiar with Polish history and culture has said.
Speaking in a media interview, Berthold Löffler, a political science professor at the University of Ravensburg-Weingarten in southern Germany, said that citizens in Eastern Europe feel „as good Europeans” as their peers in the western part of the continent.
At the same time, Eastern Europeans resist a mindset displayed by some Western politicians who “feel morally superior” and “authorized to decide unilaterally what common EU values are all about,” he added.
In an interview posted on the SuedKurier.de website, Löffler, who studied political science and Eastern European history in Tübingen, southwestern Germany, and in the Polish capital Warsaw, said that “from an Eastern European point of view, the EU is a community of values, but the question is who’s supposed to define these values.”
‚As good Europeans as those in the West’
Löffler, who spent time living in Poland, argued: “Most Western European politicians feel morally superior to Eastern Europeans and consider Eastern European culture to be backward. They therefore feel entitled to unilaterally define the common values. And they expect Eastern Europe to submit without protest.
“However, this expectation has met with rejection in Eastern Europe. Eastern Europeans are as good Europeans as those in the West. But they don’t want more Europe; they want a better EU.”
Löffler also asserted that Eastern Europeans „want to live in their nation states in the future” and argued that Eastern European nations “did not join the EU to swap Moscow’s dominance for lecturing from Brussels.”
He said that “this is understandable given their history.”
“These countries have won their independence with great effort and are proud of it,” he added.
He argued that “the Eastern European approach is fully justified by the ideas of the founding fathers of a united Europe … who referred to the common European roots of Christianity and to the idea of a Europe of homelands, with which the current concept of the EU stands in contradiction.”
Löffler also said that a “sense of moral superiority” prevents “know-it-all” Western Europeans “from seeing that the Eastern European ideas of what Europe is supposed to be are no less legitimate than the Western ideas.”
“The problem is that values cannot be negotiated,” Löffler said. “They are absolute, which means that a compromise between these two ideas of Europe is not possible in principle.”
‚Politics should be about the interests of one’s own country’
Asked if he understands why Eastern European countries have refused to accept immigrants, Löffler, who lived in Poland for a long time and is regarded in his native Germany as an expert on Eastern Europe, replied:
“Absolutely, because politics should first and foremost be about the interests of one’s own country. That is exactly what the governments in Warsaw or Budapest are doing.”
Löffler also remarked in the interview that “it may well be that it is Slovakia and Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia that represent the true spirit of Europe.”
He noted that „Eastern Europeans see themselves as heirs to the over thousand-year-old common European history.”