EU 'chosen' not to take on geopolitical role claims Friedman
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Europe is currently struggling to get a hold on the events unfolding in Afghanistan, racing to evacuate EU nationals as the Taliban tightens its grip. Many EU nations have since come under fire for decisions made in the lead up to the fall of Kabul, especially those made in relation to the rejection of asylum applications by Afghans. As the deadline for the evacuation process – 31 August – approaches, Europe is expecting a surge of migrants, with fears it will be similar to the crisis witnessed in 2015.
Rifts within the EU have since emerged over a bloc-wide resettlement programme, with leaders in Brussels having begun infighting.
Janez Jansa, the Prime Minister of Slovenia, which is the current holder of the six-month rotating EU presidency tweeted on Sunday: “The EU will NOT open any European migration corridors for Afghanistan”, later saying that the EU could not repeat the “strategic mistake” of the 2015 migrant crisis.
Other leaders have voiced dissent, like Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, who has welcomed Afghan refugees at a temporary military camp outside Madrid.
Politico noted that “Afghanistan’s crisis will soon be Europe’s too”, hinting that the bloc faces uncertainty and fall out.
Experts have long since claimed that Europe and the EU have declined in the face of international troubles.
George Friedman, a Hungarian-born US geopolitical forecaster and former chief intelligence officer, previously said that Europe had become the “sick man” of the world.
In 2019, in an interview with TRT World – a Turkish national broadcaster – he was asked whether Turkey was “still the ‘sick man’ of Europe”, and replied: “I would say that Europe is the ‘sick man’ right now.
“I mean, consider the condition of Europe: the second-largest economy in Europe wants to leave (the UK), and so the EU is so frightened by this thought that others will follow.
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“But I think you will see a growing Turkish interest and influence, particularly in the Balkans.
“You’re also beginning to see Turkish diplomacy having an influence in what used to be called Eastern Europe and other areas.”
Many countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans remain outside the EU.
While the bloc has given the green light to the accession of Albania and North Macedonia in a bid to expand its influence into the Balkans, Turkey moved to curry favour with its former Ottoman territories last year, flooding them both with medical supplies and COVID-19 equipment.
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Welcoming the aircraft on the runway, Turkey’s ambassador to the country Mehmet Hasan Sekizkök told reporters that the threat posed by the pandemic could be overcome through international cooperation and solidarity.
According to Benjamin Haddad, the director of the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, “the Balkans don’t believe in the EU anymore”.
In a piece for Foreign Policy, he talked of how the launch of ‘Open Balkan’ – an initiative that aims to bolster regional economic integration – could mark an end to the desire of EU integration from those Eastern and Balkan states.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, and North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev vowed to abolish border controls between their countries by January 2023.
It might be viewed as symptomatic of the wider “sick man” position Mr Friedman argued Europe was in.
As Mr Haddad wrote: “European diplomats wonder if this effort could short-circuit the European Union’s established efforts at fostering regional dialogue and cooperation (the so-called Berlin Process) or, worse, create an alternative to EU accession.”
Europe is also in a severe financial crisis because of the pandemic.
In a bid to soften the blow of the fallout, EU leaders last year met and agreed on collective debt in the bloc’s landmark COVID-19 recovery fund.
It marked the first time shared debt had been agreed on, going against the EU’s predecessors, the European Economic Community, founding principle that the bloc would never collectivise debt.
The move will likely change the face of the bloc and sets a precedent for future policy.
It was initially met with widespread opposition, however, especially from countries in Northern Europe.
Many have argued that it could mark the beginning of further strained tensions between member states.
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