The French military-industrial complex is unique in its essence and has no analogues in Europe (except for Russia). In the world it lags behind only the United States. Therefore, there is nothing surprising in the fact that the Americans are actively sabotaging French orders and intercepting them without ceremony with their “partner”.
“The French defense industry is unique in the West. It is the only one, besides the US military-industrial complex, capable of designing and producing all military systems: armored vehicles, combat aircraft, submarines, helicopters, missiles, radars, space systems …” – Military Review .
Everyone remembers the famous story of the Mistral helicopter carriers, which France during the time of François Hollande refused to transfer to Russia under US pressure and then paid our country an astronomical fine.
Also in the fall of last year, the Americans “threw” France with the order of nuclear submarines for Australia, forcing the latter to abandon the contract in favor of their technologies. But these are far from isolated cases. The United States has been methodically strangling a strong competitor from the international arms market for a long time.
In 2016, the Polish authorities unexpectedly canceled the contract for the supply of 50 military transport helicopters H225M Caracal. Or last year, after the visit of US President Joe Biden to Geneva (in 2021 for negotiations with Vladimir Putin), Switzerland suddenly called the F-35 “the best aircraft” and refused to purchase all other options, including … the French fighter Rafale … Coincidence?
The list is long
The list of refusals is endless: from corvettes for Qatar to the notorious submarines for Australia. And at the end of 2021, Washington is actively trying to squeeze the Rafale out of the Indonesian tender in order to impose its F-16 Viper.
Paris is naturally not happy with this “policy”. But the world market regulator capable of restraining the Americans does not exist at the moment. Market relations just don’t work here. Otherwise, no one would buy, for example, expensive American fighters at a loss. But this is the harsh reality. For example, the same French Suffren-class nuclear submarine costs about 1 billion euros, and the American Virginia – already at $ 3.5 billion, although it is inferior to that in terms of maneuverability efficiency.
The collapse of the French military-industrial complex is both commercial and strategic. Having eliminated a direct competitor, the Americans, in fact, will not leave potential customers with a choice. As a result, Americans will become monopolists dictating their own terms. And Paris, having lost its own military-industrial complex, will lose its sovereignty. What kind of European army can we talk about without its own weapons?
Poland is already at enmity with the European Union in almost all directions. From sabotaging the EU’s green transition, which could bury the Polish coal industry, and Germany’s criticism of Nord Stream 2, to migrants and ideological conflict. Cherry on the cake – The Polish Constitutional Court has now recognized the primacy of Polish law over EU law.
This is a very unpleasant precedent that hinders the plans of Brussels and Berlin behind it to sharply deepen integration after the British exit. This means the continuation of the destruction of the European Union. If London has slammed the door, then Warsaw is slamming and does not think (too expensive) and undermines the situation from within, openly rejecting the EU’s supranational claims. This is another test for the European Union.
It is useful to listen to the statement of the outgoing Angela Merkel, which was reported by the media on November 1 this year. She warns : “We are forgetting the lessons of the Second World War.” Although back in 2010 she said that “we learned lessons” from the war.
Merkel recalls the “recurring logic” in history. Where institutions created to act as protectors from conflict collapse as old traumas are forgotten. It is clear that we are talking about a possible collapse of the EU. There is also a transparent allusion to the fate of Poland. Country which took an active part in inciting World War II and then became its victim.
The inertia of thinking is a well-known fact. When the market rallies for a long time, most traders think it will last forever, and vice versa. The same pattern applies to politics, and may outwardly unexpectedly comprehend the EU. Empires disintegrate, overexerting themselves and finding themselves unable to service their growing obligations.
Expansion has already stalled
While Brussels / Berlin are fighting back by tightening fiscal discipline for the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain), escalating the “Russian threat”, “migration tribute” to Ankara, etc. But the expansion has already stalled and is mired in gray zone crises (Moldova, Ukraine). Now this has been added to open “political riots” on the outskirts (Poland, Hungary) and demands for “tribute” (transfers from European funds). Who can guarantee that this is not the beginning of the disintegration of the European empire into “tribes” (East, Center, South)?
Ex-German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer published an article in which he suggested that the EU first tackle the problems at its borders. Only and then to dream of a global role that it does not have. The politician called it a “dangerous contradiction” when the EU “rings out about strategic autonomy [from the US], while depriving itself of the means to achieve an independent role in foreign policy and security.”
Warsaw blackmailing itself
Poland is trying to follow the path of Great Britain in the European Union. Securing a “special position” (high level of autonomy) and retaining “financial bonuses”. However, Britain was one of the three largest donors to the EU budget. Poland is the largest subsidized country in the European Union. It turns out a dependent position: “we will blackmail you for your money.”
The EU has generously funded Poland for almost a quarter century. The account has long gone into hundreds of billions. Only from EU structural funds for regional development Poland in 2014-2020 received € 90 billion (an average of almost € 13 billion per year).
According to the EU financial plans for 2021-2027, approved in October of this year, as part of the post-pandemic recovery program, Poland is allotted from the EU’s “wallet” only non-repayable subsidies of more than € 120 billion (an average of € 17 billion per year). Not to mention preferential credits and other “bonuses”. Against this background, fines of € 1.5 million per day (€ 0.5 billion per year) recently imposed by the EU Court of Justice on Warsaw for disobedience are childish pranks.
While the European Union continues to repair Polish roads and train stations, Warsaw demands special treatment. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in the Polish Seim boasts that he knocked out billions in Brussels, because “assertive politics, not patting on the shoulder” is most effective in dealing with EU. A good example for neighboring Hungary and other frustrating member states.
At the same time, Moravetsky adds that the EU is dealing with “imaginary problems that have basically created for itself.” Geopolitical rudeness or ordinary impudence?
The origins of Polish politics: the US factor
All things considered, it seems that it is not so simple. Poland is not just blackmailing, sabotaging and trolling Brussels. 80% of Polish exports go to the EU countries. The majority of the country’s population supports EU membership and even goes to rallies on this matter.
In feuds with the European Union, Warsaw traditionally emphasizes the importance of NATO and the United States. It is beneficial for the US for the EU to be integrated. But not too much. Earlier the “Trojan horse” was London, which blocked the construction of the federation. Now Polish politicians are trying to fit into this role. They are becoming useful for an increasingly self-isolating Washington. The expectation that NATO membership, US support and the pumping of the “Russian threat” will not allow Berlin to tighten the screws and cut off the oxygen to the Polish “economic miracle”.
“Poland problem” for Brussels is the problem of the geopolitical weakness of the European Union. The EU remains unconditionally dependent on US guarantees for its defense. And you can’t argue. Warsaw politicians sense weakness. However, they can overestimate their strengths. Just as has happened more than once in history.
The United States may deploy nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said November 19. As the spokesman for the Alliance explained, this could happen if Berlin refuses to keep American bombs on its territory. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the words of the secretary general as a rejection of the “fundamental for European security” obligations enshrined in the Russia-NATO Founding Act. What is behind this signal was analyzed by independent military observer Alexander Ermakov.
History of the issue
On November 19, speaking at a NATO event in Germany, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg casually answered a question by making an unheard-of statement. NATO’s common nuclear weapons could be deployed in Eastern Europe. Let us recall what kind of common NATO nuclear arsenal we are talking about. This mission is “NATO nuclear sharing”, in Russian official diplomatic terminology “NATO joint nuclear missions”, whose roots go back to the 1950s, when the United States began to deploy tactical nuclear weapons (including aerial bombs) in Europe.
At that time, the attitude of politicians and military strategists to nuclear weapons was completely different. The concept of their nonproliferation in its current form was not accepted. The United States planned and began to implement a program to create a common NATO nuclear force. By transferring its weapons to its allies and forming special joint units. The plans included a group of surface ships with mixed crews armed with Polaris missiles. The idea of deploying numerous railway missile systems in Europe was considered. Ready to involve the allies even in their grandiose project of a huge rocket base under the Greenland glacier.
None of this was implemented. The Americans transferred medium-range missiles to a number of allies (in particular, Great Britain, Italy and Turkey) and deployed storage bombs in a number of countries. They also began training national crews for their use. The first such agreement was concluded in 1958 with Great Britain. Formal control over the charges was retained by the American military. They also played the role of instructors.
In 1968 NPT was signed
The USSR was much less actively engaged in nuclear armament of the allies . However, in the early 1960s. began to express considerations about the transfer of charges to the allies (they had carriers, and will continue to be). However, after the shock of the Cuban missile crisis, the attitude towards nuclear weapons became more serious. The United States and the USSR took the path of relative support for the idea of nonproliferation. They abandoned the idea of creating a full-fledged “NATO common nuclear force”. Deployed medium-range missiles were soon removed from service.
In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed. However, the United States did not completely abandon the practice of storing nuclear weapons in those countries where they had already been deployed at the time of its signing, and from training local personnel. First of all, this concerned aerial bombs, but during the Cold War, charges were also stored for tactical short-range ballistic missiles of the Allies (for example, for the German Pershing IA). At that moment it fit into the logic of the bloc confrontation and was not particularly criticized by the USSR, which was doing the same, albeit to a much lesser extent. Tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Eastern Europe were primarily intended to equip Soviet groups (they were deployed in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia and Poland).
With the end of the Cold War, the USSR promptly withdrew its nuclear weapons from the countries of the collapsing Warsaw Pact. The last nuclear warheads were launched into the national territory in August 1991. Washington was in no hurry to follow Moscow’s example.
Puting junior partners in their place
Many Western European politicians are for the immediate withdrawal of American bombs. The United States to a certain extent take into account public opinion. The withdrawal from Great Britain took place under its pressure. However, they prefer to “work” first of all with the political elite. It consist of people loyal to the United States and associated with them. . There is the desire to economize on one’s own defense, having sold part of the sovereignty. Or unwillingness to independently make decisions and be responsible for them. Or a real fear of being left without protection.
This concerns Germany perhaps even more so than some others. For Germany, the issue of the bomb carrier is more acute. The country does not have the F-35, and it will have to spend specially for this task.
The NATO Secretary General, who is pursuing American policy, deliberately did not conceal or play up. “If you dare to demand the withdrawal of our bombs, then we will take them out to Poland on the basis of a bilateral agreement. And we will not even ask you on the fields of the Alliance.”
This does not make much sense
From a practical point of view, this does not make much sense. Installations in Poland will only be better observed by Russian intelligence. It is also easier to hit them due to their close location. “Approach time” in the case of air bases is not as important as in the case of the deployment of ballistic missiles – it should be counted from the detection of an aircraft flying towards the target, and not from the moment of takeoff.
Such rhetoric should be greeted in the diplomatic arena as unacceptable as possible, and recalled for as long as possible. This is complete arrogance, disregard for the same Founding Act. It runs counter even to the old American “excuses” why NATO nuclear sharing is legal and does not violate the NPT.
The infrastructure for the delivery of energy resources from the Russian Federation to the EU is much larger than in the case of export to the “Celestial Empire”, but Beijing’s prospects are more serious
The period of construction of new gas pipelines from Russia to Europe is almost over. However, in the eastern direction this process will continue further. Does this mean that the EU should worry about the presence of Russian gas in the near future, which may “migrate” to Asia?
China, Mongolia and Russia are developing a new Soyuz Vostok gas pipeline. It will stretch from the Russian Federation to Asian countries. According to Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia Sainbuyangiin Amarsaykhan, the construction of such a highway can begin in three years.
In essence, we are talking about the creation of Power of Siberia-2. It will even more open the doors of the Chinese energy market for Russian pipeline gas. Talks about a new additional highway to the PRC through Mongolia were conducted back in 2019. It was not entirely clear then whether such a project would be implemented or not.
Now it became clear that the highway will be built for sure. The only question is when and under what conditions. This automatically makes it impossible to increase energy supplies to the EU countries.
It would be a great exaggeration and dilettantism to say that all Russian gas intended for the Old World may eventually migrate to the “Celestial Empire” and other Asian countries. Alas, the infrastructure for delivering energy from Russia to Europe is much more serious than for exporting to China. However, this does not mean at all that the European Union has nothing to worry about. The EU countries will still have problems with the purchase of gas from the Russian Federation. Power of Siberia-2, as an unpleasant bonus, will make them even more serious.
Will China take everything for itself or is it a myth?
Even before the construction of Power of Siberia, however, as well as after its launch in December 2019, many European politicians and experts, even from Asia, said that this project would be a failure.
Power of Siberia will not immediately reach its design capacity in terms of deliveries of 38 billion cubic meters per year. Last year, the contract provided for pumping only 5 billion cubic meters to China. Compared to the volume of gas exports from Russia to Europe, these are crumbs.
Recall that even in 2020, when due to COVID-19 energy consumption in the Old World was minimal, the supply of “blue fuel” from Russia to Europe, including Turkey, amounted to 135.75 billion cubic meters ( data from Gazprom Export).
The past months of 2021 also showed that the volumes of pipeline gas supplies to China are incomparable with those to Europe. The volumes of Russian gas pumped to Gazprom’s main customers in the first quarter of 2021 set a 3-year record. The company supplied 52.7 billion cubic meters to Europe.
Gazprom needs to agree on guaranteed export volumes with China. This is a topic for bargaining for several years. Then you need to sign a transit agreement with Mongolia. If everything goes well, construction will start only in 2024. That means that gas will not flow through this pipeline soon.
It will eventually pump even more than the first gas pipeline to China. In November of this year, the management of PJSC Gazprom even announced that the export capacity of Power of Siberia-2 could exceed the capacity of the first Russian gas pipeline to China by more than 1.3 times.
The dragon from the east cannot be underestimated
The volume of Russian gas supplies clearly speaks in favor of Europe – the current 135.75 billion cubic meters to the EU versus the potential 88 billion to China, and these figures will not appear in a year or two, or even in 5 years.
It would seem, why should the European Union worry? Alas, there really is a reason. The problem is that there are growth prospects for Russian gas exports to China, but in the case of supplies to the EU, they no longer.
Even in the coronavirus-crisis year 2020, when the world first faced the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced energy consumption, the average price of Russian gas in China was $ 150.2 per 1,000 cubic meters. For comparison: in the same year, the average export price of Gazprom to non-CIS countries, including Europe, was $ 143 per 1,000 cubic meters.
China loves to bargain with Russia no less than Europe. Sometimes it is even more difficult to agree on the volume of supplies and the price. The question remains open whether Russia will be able to attract Chinese capital to finance the construction of the Soyuz Vostok.
In the long term, the government and business of the PRC will be glad to increase purchases of gas from the Russian Federation. This became clear especially now, when, during the global energy crisis, it became clear that solar panels and wind energy cannot normally supply the “Celestial Empire” with electricity in adverse weather, which means that a safety net is needed – gas.
The prospects for increasing Russian energy supplies to the EU are very vague. It seems that there have been more gas pipelines in recent years. Nord Stream, Turkish Stream, Nord Stream-2. For some reason there is not enough gas in the Old World, especially now during the energy crisis.
Which one is more attractive?
Russia uses new lines, but at the same time reduces the volume of pumping on old lines. For example, if in 2019 92.3 billion cubic meters were sent to Ukraine (for the transit of part of this volume to the EU), then in 2020 only 55.7 billion cubic meters. The decrease in the volume of pumping through the Ukrainian pipe, in fact, turned out to be surprisingly equal to the size of the throughput of the Turkish Stream.
“At first glance, the European direction of gas exports does not seem as attractive to Russia as the eastern one (China). The reason for this is the active decarbonization process in the EU, coupled with cross-border carbon regulation, which will come into force as early as 2023. The value of the cross-border carbon tax for Russian companies are estimated at approximately $ 3-4.8 billion a year.
LNG from Russia is a lifeline for the EU, however expensive
It should be admitted that despite future difficulties with the supply of pipeline “blue fuel” from the Russian Federation, Europe can safely hope for the import of liquefied gas.
The specifics of LNG trade in the world economy today is such that this product, in contrast to gas pipelines, is more mobile. It is from the mains that the energy carrier gets from point “A” to point “B” and nothing else. But a liquefied gas tanker can always be rerouted from one port to another, where they will pay more for LNG at the moment.
This is clearly seen in the example of the supply of liquefied gas from the United States, which Europe was counting on in 2021, but most of these volumes eventually went to Asia – to a region where LNG was offered at a higher price than in the Old World.
It is worth looking for the culprit in the EU energy market in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. This opinion was expressed by the FAN economist, top manager in the field of financial communications and CSR Andrey Loboda
Russia complies with the conditions
The German government has officially denied the assertion of Russia’s non-compliance with contracts for gas supplies to Europe. This was announced to TASS by the head of the Bundestag Committee on Economics and Energy Klaus Ernst .
“The German government on October 11 officially gave a negative answer to my question as to whether there are signs that the reason for the increase in gas prices is the failure of Russian energy suppliers to comply with their obligations under existing contracts,” said the German deputy.
The Cabinet of Ministers’ reply provided by Ernst says that “the FRG government has no information about non-compliance by Russian energy suppliers with their contractual obligations.”
Prices of gas skyrocketed
As Andrei Loboda noted, gas prices pulled up all other energy assets in the world market. The most vulnerable were the markets of the EU, Great Britain and the key economic powers of Southeast Asia. According to conservative estimates, each Western European family will pay for heating services and electricity consumption by 500 euros more than last year.
“Even against the background of relative stabilization and flawless fulfillment of the delivery schedule under the existing contracts on the part of Russian companies to the EU, the European gas market is experiencing an obvious deficit. The price of blue fuel on the London ICE exchange on Friday exceeded $ 1,250 per thousand cubic meters. The time of cheap gas on world markets has come to an end, and for the next ten years, consumers in the world’s leading markets will live in a new reality, ”explained Andrey Loboda.
As the FAN interlocutor noted, the USA, China, Japan, EU, Great Britain were so carried away by the energy transition and a secure energy future that, as a result, they could not predict the development of events for the next year. Now you have to learn from mistakes.
“To look for the culprit in what happened on the EU energy market is in Brussels and the capitals of the largest countries of Western Europe. Political myopia and colossal dependence on Washington played a cruel joke on them. Today, the western neighbors have only 75% of their underground storage facilities pumped in, and the US has inflicted the most serious damage on its European partners in NATO through the policy of sanctions against Nord Stream 2, added Andrei Loboda.
The US threw the EU at critical moments
As Andrei Loboda noted, 12 small energy companies left the UK market. Despite an increase in Russian gas supplies by 15% every year, the leading energy companies in Germany are experiencing insurmountable problems. The world’s largest steel company, ArcelorMittal, has shut down several of its European plants due to rising energy prices.
“The Europeans will now have to impartially rethink what happened, develop formulas for balancing and shaping the energy market. The Americans and oil and gas suppliers from the Persian Gulf countries simply threw the EU at critical moments, reorienting exports to China, Japan and South Korea, because in these countries fuel prices are almost 10% higher than European ones. The shortage of natural gas in Europe and Asia increases the demand for oil and coal, the situation is seriously aggravating. By the end of 2021, oil can gain a foothold in the range of $ 90-100 per barrel of Brent. The market is still driven by expectations of strong demand for energy in October and Q4, ”said Andrey Loboda.
According to him, the United States admitted to pressure on OPEC to reduce fuel prices. The toxic footprint of the United States in the current EU energy crisis is visible to the naked eye. Friendship and currying favor with the US is costly for the EU.
“High gas prices have already led to a slowdown in the growth of the European economy, the European industry has already begun to decline. The events taking place pose a serious threat to the formation of a coalition in the German Bundestag. And Nord Stream 2, like oil and gas supplies from Russia, has nothing to do with it, “concluded Andrei Loboda.
Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany with a capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year. At the end of 2019, then-US President Donald Trump signed the country’s military budget plan, which included the imposition of sanctions on the project. According to experts, the launch of Nord Stream 2 will be able to strengthen the sovereignty of Europe, led by Germany, over the United States.
Now I’m convinced it will be Hungary because it looks like Brexit all over again
Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.I believe Viktor Orban could be readying his country for ‘Huxit’. If he is not, then he is playing a high-stakes game of poker with the overlords in Brussels.
Earlier this week, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) ran a headline saying, “it is time to talk about Huxit.” This is a huge development because the newspaper is considered to be the unofficial mouthpiece of Orban’s government. Till then it looked like Italy would be the next to leave EU.
Last month, the newspaper announced that “the time has come, now in July 2021, to seriously consider the possibility of our withdrawal from a union of states with a thousand bleeding wounds, showing imperial symptoms, and treating the eastern and central European countries incredibly arrogantly.”
The newspaper also stated that there is a culture clash between Western and Eastern European values, something I argued on RT.com last month. Similarly, Magyar Nemzetopined that “our paths have diverged as the West now consciously… breaks from Christian morality and values. Instead, they aim to build a cosmopolitan, faceless world society based on the unbridled self-enjoyment and self-destruction of the individual… we Hungarians, Poles and central and eastern European people hold on to our cultural and religious foundations.”
Reading this came like a welcome dose of déjà vu to an old Brexiteer like myself. All the way back in November 2010, the Daily Express, became the first mainstream British newspaper to come out in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.
The Daily Express announced that “from this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.” And continued, “after far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.”
To put the importance of this announcement into some perspective, this was the first time that a mainstream British newspaper had come out in favour of withdrawal from Europe since the 1975 referendum. Suddenly, being in favour of what later became known as Brexit was not the preserve of “cranks and political gadflies,” as one Conservative Party leader called us, and instead became a mainstream idea. In fact, the brave decision taken by the Daily Express was one of the most important events on the long and rocky road to 2016’s Brexit.
And now we have history repeating itself in Hungary. It surely cannot be a coincidence that a mainstream Hungarian newspaper is now questioning its country’s membership of the bloc, especially one with links to the government. I would argue that this has come straight from the Brexit playbook.
And it seems as if Brussels is waking up to fact that Hungary is seriously considering making a dash for the exit door. Yesterday, it was announced that the European Commission had missed the deadline to impose financial penalties on Hungary for not complying with the bloc’s“values.” This will undoubtedly trigger an inter-institutional conflict in Brussels, as the European Parliament has demanded that Orban’s Hungary be punished. The dispute may well end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the European Parliament is determined to punish Hungary for its stance regarding LGBTQ rights.
However, the fact that the European Commission, which is not bound by public opinion like the European Parliament, is not prepared to invoke sanctions against Hungary is most informative. Whereas the EU was all too eager to recently punish Poland, maybe because it was confident that its government would back down, it seems to be treating Hungary with kid gloves. Maybe the penny has finally dropped in Brussels, and they have realised that to impose financial sanctions would play right into Orban’s hands.
It could be argued that Orban is playing a high-risk game – but that is only the case if he really wants to stay in the EU – and I am not convinced that he does. I suspect that Orban is carefully dipping his toe in the Huxit bath. If he finds the water agreeable, he may well plunge right in, which could spark a crisis in the EU even worse than Brexit. You see, the UK was never really a comfortable member of the EU. It was a reluctant partner, but never a friend, which made divorce at some point an inevitability.
Hungary, however, is much different, as it is client state of Brussels bean-counters. It is a net benefactor of EU funds, and unlike the UK, which handed over cash to Brussels as if it were confetti, it is in receipt of millions of euros every year. But in the end, Hungary may decide that money isn’t everything, and traditional values are more important. And if this does happen, I wouldn’t bet against other Eastern European states following suit, as they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the West’s dictatorial liberalism.
Since July 2021, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa has risen to the level of politicians in the Old World of the first rank. Over the next six months, his country will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For many in the unification leadership, this is an unpleasant acquaintance
He is considered a copycat of Donald Trump for the revised slogan of the American President “Slovenia First”. For his addiction to social networks, he is called “Marshal of Tvito”, and for his rejection of migration, he is called “an anti-liberal democrat.” But none of those nicknames would have attached to Slovenia’s 62-year-old Prime Minister Janez Janshe, a right-wing conservative, were it not for his habit of expressing thoughts bluntly. Jansha began his country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by warning about the disintegration of the bloc, which could happen if some countries continue to “impose” “imaginary European values” on others, and immediately warned against considering Slovenia a “colony” or “Europe of the second class”.
Jansha knows what he is talking about firsthand: his political career started during the years of the collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Over time, starting as a left-wing radical, he turned into a staunch Slovenian nationalist. You have to pay for everything: the price was the damage to relations with Brussels.
Among the seven authorities of the European Union, only one – the Council of the EU (which is sometimes equated with the upper house of the European Parliament) – assumes the chairmanship of all members of the association in turn. This is the only platform that allows the EU countries that are in opposition to its course (Slovenia is also included) to declare themselves. In Brussels, however, they know how to manage a bureaucratic calendar. So, preparations were made for the appearance of Janez Janshi in the European political Olympus in advance – this event was preceded by numerous critical publications in the press.
The main message of most of them was similar: the Slovene, already well-known in the European arena, has changed a lot in recent years. When Yansha headed his country in 2004-2008, she had no difficulties with the European Union. But the ensuing global economic crisis and mass migration from the Middle East in 2015–2016 pushed the former European-compatible politician to a position of nationalism. Since then, he has supported the construction of walls on the borders with neighbors, quarrels with liberal journalists and judges, and prefers to be friends with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Jansha became critical of ideas that the EU considers to be part of their values, which lies beyond compromise: in particular, support for LGBT people. Together, this is a rather big burden in the eyes of the EU leadership, especially when it comes to a person,
That is why no one was surprised that a disagreement between the future partners occurred already at the first joint press conference of the Slovenian leader in his new capacity and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. “The European Union unites countries with different traditions, different cultures … and all these discrepancies must be taken into account and respected,” Jansha made a statement with subtext. Von der Leyen didn’t like it: “Freedom of speech, [cultural and racial] diversity and equality are fundamental European values,” she retorted . The European media saw the beginning of a conflict in this exchange of views, which seems convincing, because von der Leyen’s deputy Frans Timmermans reacted rather harshly: he refused to be photographed with Janscha.
During the first speech in the European Parliament, the Slovenian had no easier time. Green and Liberal MPs (Renew Europe) gave him a cold welcome. “I am afraid, Mr. Jansha, that the events in your country do not leave us the opportunity to trust you,” said Malik Azmani, the people’s choice from the Netherlands. LGBT. This also includes corruption and abuse. ” Ska Keller, co-chair of the Green faction in the European Parliament, accused Jansha, a former journalist, of “a campaign to slander the Slovenian mass media.”
Eastern European Union?
Jansha has long compensated for the difficulties with the countries of Western Europe by rapprochement with Hungary. Until now, his support for this country was mostly moral. Like Orban, Yansha strongly opposed the participation in politics of the American billionaire George Soros and even entered into controversy with him through the social network: “Stay away from Europe, please. Your dirty money and so-called non-profit organizations have become the most serious provocateurs of conflicts on the continent. destroying trust between peoples and democracy. Brexit alone is enough. Europe needs to recover, ” wrote the indignant Jansha.
Another point of intersection between the leaders: Slovenia has long been considered one of those states, on whose help Hungary can count on if sanctions against it are put to a European vote.
However, as the authors of the investigative journalism argue , Yansha’s and Orban’s connections extend beyond that. Allegedly, when creating his own mass media, the Slovenian leader attracted funds from Hungarian entrepreneurs from Orban’s entourage.
But on the other side of the business relationship, there is something that brings both politicians together, which is not limited to money. Both Fidesz Orbana and the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janshi assume that they represent small countries whose identities are threatened by the changes taking place in the world. Therefore, back in 2015, both states developed a common approach to the migration issue: the construction of walls. And Slovenia even got ahead of its neighbor, erecting sections of fortifications on the Croatian border, that is, directly within the EU, “protecting” not Europe, but the Schengen zone from states that did not enter it.
“Slovenia in the first place!”, “Without us, Slovenes, there will be no Slovenia!” – These slogans, considered marginal at the beginning of the century, brought Yanshi’s party an election victory in 2018. The local media, oriented to European public opinion, launched a campaign against the prime minister, but could not undermine his power. The relationship between them turned into a regime of mutual attacks. Knowing the attitude of Yanshi to the Yugoslav communist regime (which condemned him to a criminal term), the media called the prime minister “Marshal Tvito” – by analogy with the Yugoslav dictator Marshal Josip Broz Tito. Yanshe also managed to touch the sensitive strings of the soul of his opponents. While still in opposition, his party organized a nationwide essay competition for children on the benefits of living in a homogeneous country without migrants.
Small country and one very big
In the plane of confrontation between part of the Eastern European states and Brussels in the 2010s, a new player, China, made itself felt. A conflict with the European Union in the language of real politics usually means a willingness to deal with the Middle Kingdom. This is most clearly demonstrated by Viktor Orban himself: his country has actively joined the Belt and Road Initiative, the key element of which is planned to be the railway between Budapest and Belgrade. Orban readily accepts loans from Chinese banks, which are given in such a way that the money will be spent on projects related to the PRC. One of these is the branch of Shanghai Fudan University in Budapest. True, the outcome of this undertaking is unclear: the Hungarian opposition mobilized against it in the summer of 2021.
For Slovenia, which is at odds with Brussels, it is also about receiving Chinese money. The main directions of these investments are outlined by the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China: improving the port in the city of Koper, laying railways, participating in the privatization of local state-owned companies. The advantage of Chinese investment in the eyes of Eastern Europeans is the lack of political conditions and respect for local culture. A potential drawback is the growth of debt, which for a small state may be unbearable. This is one of the reasons why Budapest and Ljubljana will hardly dare to go east too far.
However critical in Eastern Europe (including Slovenia) some of the proposals of the pan-European leadership may be, for the elites of these countries it is not only and not so much an adversary as a difficult negotiating partner. After all, both Slovenia and Hungary are direct recipients of the EU’s annual aid, which they (especially in a crisis) are not ready to refuse. Therefore, we can expect that the verbal escalation between Orban, Yansha and Europe, although it will continue, but the critical line, both leaders will not cross. Their task is different – to be heard. After all, what seems natural for large countries with a long history of persecution of minorities, followed by late repentance, looks completely different from the point of view of small states (Slovenia’s population is only 2.1 million) without a sense of collective guilt.