The Far West

If we look at what we call the European continent from the perspective of the people of China, India or Japan, we will see the westernmost cape of Eurasia—the Eurasian Far West. This part of the world is relatively small, but surprisingly diverse in terms of terrain, coastline, climate and the genetic pool of the natives, who are almost without exception descendants of visitors from the Middle East, the Caspian steppes or Central Asia—Greeks, Romans, Celts, Goths, Slavs and other nomads—and today of migrants from virtually all over the world.

For some reason, still baffling the wisest scholars and flaunting all probabilities, this remote corner has managed to establish communication with the entire globe, reaching the farthest corners of the world and civilization, subjugating them for several centuries and drawing huge profits from it. Let us imagine nineteenth-century Japan colonizing most of Asia, Africa, North America, and Australia to boot, and its fleet dominating three oceans. This is what England succeeded in doing. Let us imagine jealous Korea establishing its own outposts in North America, and proud Thailand guarding its previously conquered possessions in South America. Let us imagine that the language of modern Brazil is not Portuguese, but Khmer. And that the lingua franca of the peoples of North Africa is the language of the ancient conquerors, let’s say Philippine.

Something equally unbelievable was achieved in modern times by several European nations. Even more remarkable is the fact that after centuries of bloody conflicts and two world wars, Europeans created a common political organism and despite obvious adversities still want to develop it. Today, the European Union is the only real measure of European values; they are worth as much as the common European house that we are going to build.

In this context, the celebrated pronouncement by French President Emmanuel Macron, critical of NATO, is a call for a discussion that has been postponed for too long. Macron presented his own vision of Europe, full of specific details. The EU must reinvent itself: stop relying on Americans, agree on a common approach to Russia, build European armed forces, link the distribution of funds with respecting rule of law, and revise the policy of EU enlargement (in short: grant rights and money to candidates for membership in instalments, for good behavior, so as not to repeat the mistakes made in relation to the countries of Eastern Europe).

In fact, the French leader called on the leaders of the EU Member States to join forces in the Eurasian game, probably the most important geopolitical game of the twenty-first century. The leaders of Central European countries, including Germany, will have to quickly find an answer to this appeal.

Aleksander Kaczorowski

Aleksander Kaczorowski is an editor-in-chief of Aspen Review Central Europe, former deputy editor-in-chief of Newsweek Polska and chief editor of the Op-ed section of Gazeta Wyborcza. His recent books include biographies of Václav Havel or Bohumil Hrabal. He won Václav Burian Prize for cultural contribution to the Central European dialogue (2016).

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Current issue - 01/2020

Heart of Europe on the Periphery

Illiberal backsliding is getting stronger in Visegrad countries recently. Central Europe suffers from a complex of inferiority, they say. Is it a legitimate feeling? Discover the heart of Europe and its pounding chambers on the periphery.

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