Sunday, March 17, 2013

A wake-up call (EN)

The shocking decision to impose a 'tax' on bank depositors in Cyprus will only reveal its full consequences in the coming days and weeks. The signs so far are ominous; bank runs and social unrest in the coming period cannot be ruled out.

But whatever happens, one thing is already clear: that the North/South, Centre/Periphery cleavage in the Eurozone and in the EU at large has become irreversible, a point of no return has been reached. It is no longer taboo to force periphery governments to bypass democracy, break their promises and even their countries' law, if the powerful creditors so desire. The existence of second-class countries in the EU, for long an unspoken reality, has been officially formalised. And, with it, the end of the EU as we once knew it.

Incidentally, the measure may be as stupid as it is abusive. But even if it works, by some miracle and against the evidence of EU-imposed policies so far in its Southern rim, the harm of breaking the promise of a united Europe made of equal citizens is already done.

Out of a sense of historical justice, I would be tempted to wish that countries who are now forcing Cyprus into this legalised theft of its citizens' savings would one day live through such an experience themselves. But no, this would be wrong in any circumstance, and two wrongs don't make a right. I don't wish any citizen of any country to face a situation of being robbed outright by his or her own government. As one who lived under a totalitarian regime, I know well the feeling of frustration and disempowerment that such arbitrariness can bring, and how big a blow it can be to citizenship and basic human dignity.

For Romania, a periphery country itself and chronically treated as second-class within the EU - largely due to a corrupt, self-interested political class - this should be a last-chance wake-up call.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dosarul Schengen - mize si incordari (RO)

Subiectul aderarii la Acordul Schengen incinge din nou, in aceste zile, coabitarea politica damboviteana. Diferenta fata de precedentele esecuri pe aceeasi tema este schimbarea de roluri: daca in 2011 presedintele Basescu era cel care propunea realocarea banilor pentru securizarea frontierelor spre alte domenii si autoritatile se razboiau cu florile olandeze, iar anul trecut pe vremea asta puterea portocalie obstructiona Serbia cu bataie pe Schengen, acum guvernul USL - sustinut de o majoritate zdrobitoare in parlament - isi incordeaza muschii in fata Occidentului, in timp ce basistii critica prestatia puterii.

In ambele ipostaze, avem de-a face cu acelasi simptom, chiar daca actorii au fost re-distribuiti: vorbim de slabiciunea pozitiei externe a Romaniei (un tratament similar aplicat, sa zicem, Poloniei sau Cehiei ar fi greu de imaginat), combinata cu incapacitatea cronica a clasei politice de a se abtine de la demagogie si de a actiona unitar si disciplinat in chestiuni care tin de interesul national. Totul, pe fondul unei deteriorari generale a climatului european in chestiunea liberei circulatii (si nu numai), despre care am scris deja de mai multe ori.

Ce ar fi, totusi, de facut? Si cum poate fi judecata pozitia guvernului Ponta?