The European Union will face a fateful dilemma within the coming decade: whether to unite with U.S. in the political, economic, and even security fields, or lean toward the idea of the Common European Home. Alexander Rahr, a prominent German political analyst, made such a statement talking to EADaily. He thinks the first option is more probable so far.
“We are witnessing the establishment of an extensive and huge Atlantic bloc. It is happening just before our eyes, just now, in full view of everybody. If they keep this project on track, a powerful alliance will be formed, and EU will find itself under U.S. protection for centuries to come. It will adopt the U.S. standards, launch a strict market capitalism of the U.S. model, and get an unlimited access to the immense financially reliable market. Along with this, the United States will gain a strong foothold in Western and Central Europe. EU, in turn, will get the status of a partner, though a junior one,” the political analyst said.
Opinions vary, he continued, and approaches to the project are contradictory in the European Union. “However, elites in many countries support the project. It has enlisted support of the U.S. elites too. They need a strong presence on the other side of the ocean. Eventually, the ‘construction’ is in high gear, and, surprisingly, the EU and U.S. have no discrepancies over either the Ukrainian crisis or the stand on Russia. They have no discrepancies over the Arab crisis or other issues either. It is quite surprising, I think,” Rahr said. He thinks the evident pragmatism along with common western values that will become firm as never in such situation will ideologically cement the bloc.
Nevertheless, the expert is sure there is a second option. Its idea is long familiar – to create a Common Europe Home on the European continent and throughout Eurasia in future. “I have a sneaking feeling that they will choose this very option finally. Why? Because there is culture, there is geography, there is history, and there is traditional perception. The idea of the Common European Home implies rapprochement with Russia and with the Commonwealth of the Independent States, and establishment of a free area from Lisbon to Vladivostok in future. It is not a new idea. It has always been examined with some fear - too ambitious an idea. Now, for obvious reasons, the elites consider it even less relevant,” he says.
“Irrespective of the situation around, there are obvious facts: Europe and Russia (even as the leader of the Eurasian Economic Union) are much weaker apart. Together they are strong. By uniting their resources, they will get more geopolitical power and an opportunity to come out as an almost fully independent actor in the world arena. In addition, none of the potential parties to this union is keen to lose its identity. It doesn’t matter that countries with different identities exist in Europe. Russia and some other countries of Eastern Europe can develop their identity in Europe,” the political analyst said.
Alexander Rahr believes that the above factors make the conditional option No. 2 - Common European Home - more possible. “The current problems between Russia and Europe are temporary. They will be settled after a while. The Ukrainian conflict will not be moldering for decades. A solution will be found to it. The stands of the parties will change too. Russia pretends to be offended now. It says if you don’t accept us, we will go to Asia, gain strength and muscles… However, it is tactics rather than a strategy. It appears to me that Russia made its choice in 1991-1992 – it adopted the philosophy of governing the country, founded institutional mechanisms, and announced itself as democratic country. It is not that easy to refuse from one’s choice. Although they have announced a turn toward Asia, it does not mean that there is a suitable crossroad for such turn. In other words, Russia’s stand will change soon,” the expert supposed.
“The present realities mean little: EU hurts Russia. The latter tries to punch back. There is a kind of a ‘cold war.’ The same situation is in Europe. Opinions vary here, as some countries, for instance, Germany, openly say the relations with such strong partner as Russia must be enhanced. If EU really wanted to break the relations with Russia, it would have done it… There is a different opinion too: Russia is nasty. They do not see it with Europe. However, this approach does not reflect the real state of affairs. Russia is at the very beginning of its path, in the place where Germany was in 1960s. Development requires time. A liberal democracy of the European model is hardly possible in Russia, but a democracy in the Asian manner is quite possible,” Rahr said. “The phase of the tension we are witnessing now will pass away, and Europe will be resisting external challenges due to the principles of common security.”
For conclusion, Alexander Rahr expressed confidence that the future of the Eurasian continent is a close cooperation between the European and Eurasian Unions. “Although the Atlantic alternative is very attractive, I think the two Unions will finally arrive at an idea of mutual assistance and complementarity. A common home will emerge. Its borders will reach at least the middle of Middle East. The further geography is not clear, but who knows what is going to happen next,” the expert said for conclusion.