The sixtieth anniversary of Rome Agreements signing

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The EU leaders’ summit to mark the 60th anniversary of Rome agreements signing, which eventually led to the creation of the European Union, took place in Rome on March 25. This anniversary makes one think of what the EU has achieved over the years. In my opinion, the main result is that Europe has not lost its role as one of the main players in the world politics. In addition, the Euro has become the second-important currency in the world. This is certainly a great success. The fact that for many years there are no internal borders in the Western Europe is also a huge achievement. In general, I believe that the experience of the EU can be a good example for creating the future structure of the world. But I would also like to pay more attention to a number of serious mistakes that prevented the triumph of the united Europe.




The Kindergarten.

Back in 1990s Samuel Huntington of Harvard University has predicted that the future world conflicts will arise because of inter-civilizational rather than political reasons. The Arab spring, which began in 2011, and the mass protests of citizens in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, were received very positively in the EU. The huge crowds of young Arabs who went on to protest, really wanted democratic changes. Remember the legend of Prometheus? He gave people fire, and people began to conquer the world. But even nowadays, tens of thousands of people die because of fire. Fire is good, only if we know how to use it. Our trainings in Jordan, Armenia, Georgia showed that even those young people, who fully support the ideas of democracy and equality, in reality are not always ready to behave as required in a democratic society. Suppose you came to a kindergarten and asked children to decide with free voting what they would eat for a month for lunch - porridge, soups or ice cream, kinder - surprises and chupa-chups. I think the answer is unambiguous. Democracy works when members of a society have a certain level of knowledge and experience. Learning to live and behave in a civilized way is a long and complex process.

Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Assad were disliked both in their homelands and in Europe. In 2003, American - British troops easily defeated the troops of Saddam Hussein. In the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi regime the important role was played by air forces of Great Britain, France and Italy. At the beginning of the civil war in Syria, the EU leaders did not hide their sympathy for the Syrian opposition. Now, as a result of the Arab spring, there is no Saddam Hussein, no Muammar Gaddafi, but there is no democracy in these countries either. But there is an Islamic state that is a real threat to Europe. The fate of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi gave a clear idea to Bashar Assad and his supporters what will happen if opposition comes to power.

It should be emphasized that in both Syria and Iraq, the war is more inter-ethnic and inter-religious than civil. It is well-known that the Assad regime is supported by the Alawites and Shiites living in the country and the opposition is supported by Sunni. But few people know that Asad is also supported by Christians living in Syria, in particular Armenians. This is not because the Armenians historically dislike democracy. It's just that young people from Iraq, Libya and Syria, wishing to conduct democratic reforms in the country, had no chance to create their own state system. As a result, the initiative fell into the hands of Muslim fundamentalists, who had been successfully held back by the dictatorial regimes of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad. And the fundamentalists had methodically begun to eliminate Christians.

The Arab Spring gave birth to an unprecedented flow of refugees to the EU countries. And refugees have become the number one problem for a united Europe. Now the EU leaders understand that the flow of refugees can only be stopped by the end of the civil war in the Arab countries. In 2010, it was much easier to do this. It is not less difficult to fight against the terrorist activities of the Islamic state and other extremist groups based in the Arab countries. They have already managed to carry out a number of bloody terrorist acts in the EU countries. They have already managed to find many like-minded people among the EU citizens. So why Western Europe that supports the fall of dictators in the Arab countries, has become the main target for radicals? The answer is not difficult, although many European leaders do not want to acknowledge it. Because Europe is the center of Christian civilization.


More harm than good – the “Bears’ help”

Until 2009, the EU's relations with Russia were quite normal. Regular leaders’ summits of the EU and Russia were taking place. The Russian president was a member of the G8 world powers leaders. As it is known, the leading party in Russia is "The United Russia", the symbol of which is a bear. Animal tamers know that the bear is the most insidious animal that you never know what you can expect from. The conflict with Georgia in August 2008 showed that the Russian leadership is ready to use all its military force to pacify the "disobedient" allies and that the position of the US and the EU on this issue is of little concern. In 2009, the creation of the EU Eastern Partnership program was announced in Prague. The main goal of the program was to “create the necessary conditions to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the EU and partner countries.” The program includes six countries of the former USSR: Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus. All these countries are within the CIS structure, a group of states that was created by Russia to preserve its influence over these countries. All of these countries but Belarus were already members of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. The question "what prevented these countries from interaction in the framework of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation" has definitely disturbed Russia’s leadership. It should be noted that both the authorities and the citizens of the Eastern Partnership group positively perceived the prospective of integration with the EU and were seriously preparing for rapprochement. In November 2013, a summit of the leaders of the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries was held in Vilnius, during which the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union was planned. But back in September of that year, the Armenian president was summoned to Moscow and warned that signing an agreement with the EU would result in economic and political catastrophe for the country. Russia would sharply raise the price of gas, without which Armenia cannot exist, will reconsider its attitude towards the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for Nagorno-Karabakh, and a possibility of another president’s election in the country might increase. And the Armenian leadership surrendered. Inspired by this success, the Russian leadership next summoned the President of Ukraine. And again success. As a result, Armenia and Ukraine abstained from signing the Association Agreement at the summit in Brussels. Head of the European Commission Barroso rejected the proposal of the President of Ukraine on Russia's participation in the negotiations, and the Speaker of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said that the treaty with Ukraine could be signed with the next president. Mr. Schultz was very far-sighted. In September 2014, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union was signed by the new President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. But there are also other results. Russia had declared Crimea its territories. In Donetsk guns are shooting every day. The EU-Russia relations have greatly deteriorated. There is the strongest economic crisis in Ukraine, and the EU is now obliged to provide its economic assistance. And President Putin's rating in Russia skyrocketed. At the same time, the EU continues to invest serious funds in the Eastern Partnership program. But for some reason this money goes only to the authorities, and they are not in a hurry to reform themselves. And the new leadership of Moldova even wants to abrogate the Association Agreement with the EU. Civil society, especially the young people of these countries, who, among other things, are most interested in democratic changes, got mute roles only. At the Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Kiev (2015) and Brussels (2016) I could not learn from the Steering Committee how much the EU invested in the Eastern Partnership program, how much of it the Civil Society Forum receives and what these funds are spent for. It was a secret. But for all organizations that participated in the Annual Assembly, it has become evident that the role of Civil Society Organizations from the EU within the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum was minimized. To make sure of this, it is enough to look at the composition of the current Steering Committee.


The second law of thermodynamics

It states that entropy increases over time. The house that has not been cleaned for a long time is untidy and dusty. It took humanity centuries to cultivate rice and wheat. Weeds grow on their own and are more sustainable to naughty weather than the crops. Bureaucracy is like a weed: it is very viable, captures all resources possible and proliferates very well. In 60 years of its existence, the EU has founded numerous bureaucratic structures that in turn have established expensive and unfortunately not always useful and successful programs and projects. The project “European Union” itself is becoming more and more expensive, and the Europeans’ real income is constantly decreasing. It is not surprising then that Eurosceptics challenging the main European values are gaining ground. The nationalists of different kinds are playing in the same team. The European officers live in their own world behind the high fence and under watchful guards. As a result, it has led to Brexit - one of the EU pioneer countries has left the Union.

Erasmus+ Programme is one of the main EU achievements of all times. It has demonstrated that there are many young active people that support the European values. But tolerance, intercultural dialogue, and ability to come to a compromise having contradictions are not weeds and cannot spread themselves. Professionals and daily persistent work are needed here. The Erasmus+ possibilities are limited, and other EU programs are too big and complicated therefore unavailable to small but very motivated organizations. We have experienced it ourselves - all European donors except for Erasmus+ have declined our projects. The experience of our partner UNITED for Intercultural Action from Amsterdam is even more impressive. The organization has been existing for more than 20 years, and it has done great job to spread the ideas of tolerance across Europe. Its success has not affected its financial possibilities. Unfortunately, now, UNITED for Intercultural Action is experiencing more serious financial difficulties than it had 10 years ago.


Formula of success

The experience of a large group of countries that managed to unite to create the common future is very valuable. The recent victory of People's Party for Freedom and Democracy in the Dutch parliamentary elections has shown that there are still many supporters of the united Europe. European leaders just need to descend from the Olympus and get interested in common people’s problems. In his recent meeting with the EU leaders, Pope Francis has reminded them of this. Only time would tell whether they have heard his message.

Arman Hayrapetyan