Eastern Europe, which beginning with Poland is celebrating its 25th anniversary of freedom from Communism, has suddenly awakened from a beautiful dream about the end of historywrites Slawomir Sierakowski.
No less an authority than Adam Michnik, the legendary Polish anti-Communist dissident, recently announced that 2014 marks the end of the best period in Poland’s history in three centuries.
… Now, faced with the powerlessness of the West before Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia, the countries of Eastern Europe are suddenly confronted with the need to reflect on their foreign policies — and no country more so than Poland.
The primary problem for Eastern Europe is not so much Mr. Putin’s aggression, but rather the disunity in the region’s response.… Nor can Eastern Europe depend on its Western allies. European weapons manufacturers, foremost among them German and French companies, are arming the Russian military, while Russia pays Europe with the money it earns from supplying gas, making Europe energy-dependent on Russia. Meanwhile European firms are signing multibillion-dollar energy contracts with the Russian energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft.As a result, Europe, the largest economy in the world, finds itself helpless in a confrontation with a country that, in economic terms and excluding the energy sector, belongs in the global third division.
The swirl of opinions, analyses and interests can be bewildering, especially in contrast to an essentially simple calculation by Russia. Unlike the West, it values geopolitical expansion, not economic conditions. Otherwise, Russia would invest the money it earns from oil and gas in economic development, and not in its military, which according to projected spending will account for well over a quarter of the national budget by 2015.This situation casts a dark shadow on the place where the Iron Curtain used to be. “Old Europe” is not threatened, and so it can focus on its own economic interests, while “New Europe” is reminded of the nightmares of its past. The fact that Ukrainians were willing to die in order to open the door to the European Union, which is now unwilling to bear the economic costs of a confrontation with Russia in order to protect them, is hardly comforting.