PI Newsletter #80

  1. As Nordstrom 2 nears completion, unease in Germany rises to the surface

Nord Stream 2 is becoming increasingly problematic for Germany in its relationship with its eastern neighbors, both inside and outside the European Union.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will deliver Russian gas direct to Germany via the Baltic Sea, is due to be completed by the end of 2019 but has come under increasing criticism from the European Commission, the United States and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, notably Poland, Romania, the Baltic States and Ukraine. The project’s opponents fear that the pipeline will make Europe more vulnerable to Russia and will reduce the leverage of the Western powers in their attempts to prevent further Russian aggression against Ukraine.

While Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel has long supported the project, there does now appear to be increasing opposition to Nord Stream 2 from within Germany itself.

On September 7, in an opinion piece written for the influential daily newspaper Die Welt, the president of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, said that construction of the natural gas pipeline had destroyed confidence among Germany’s neighbors.

“Overlooking the views of our eastern neighbors is not one of the highlights of German politics and has destroyed much trust,” said Wolfgang Schäuble, a member of Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). “We all bear responsibility for a common Europe: in Berlin and Paris as well as in Warsaw and Budapest. “


  1. Victor Orban Among the Christians

I arrived in Budapest on Friday to deliver a speech at a conference for Christian communicators from around the world. At the last minute, conference organizers alerted some of us that Prime Minister Viktor Orban would like to meet with us privately at the end of the event. We boarded a bus and headed to Buda Castle, where he received us in a salon. I assumed it would be a quick meet-and-greet. Hardly! He spoke with us for about 90 minutes and answered our questions frankly.

[…] When the migration crisis hit Europe in 2015, Orban famously shut Hungary’s borders to Middle Easterners. Orban said that Hungary’s was the only government in Europe to respond to the crisis in its own interests, and in the interests of Christianity in Europe. With a population of only 10 million, and as a country where Christianity, as elsewhere on the continent, is fragile, the Hungarians concluded that allowing large numbers of Muslims to take up residence here would mean the death knell of Christianity in time.

[…]Orban pointed out that the UK and France were once colonial powers in the Middle East. He added, “But Central Europe was colonized by the Middle East. That’s a fact.” He’s talking about the Ottoman occupation of Hungary, from 1541 to 1699. Orban told our group that the room we were sitting was part of a Church building that had been turned into a mosque during the occupation.

Explaining his decision to shut the borders to Muslim refugees, Orban said what tipped the scales was consulting the Christian bishops of the Middle East. Orban: “What did they say? ‘Don’t let them in. Stop them.’”

Middle Eastern Christians, said Orban, “can tell you what is the [ultimate] end of a society you have to share with Muslims.”


  1. Boris Johnson: The EU wants a superstate, just as Hitler did.

The European Union is pursuing a similar goal to Hitler in trying to create a powerful superstate, Boris Johnson says. In a dramatic interview with the Telegraph, he warns that while bureaucrats in Brussels are trying different methods from the Nazi dictator, they share the aim of unifying Europe under one “authority”.

But the EU’s “disastrous” failures have fueled tensions between member states and allowed Germany to grow in power, “take over” the Italian economy, and “destroy” Greece, he warns.

[…] The former mayor of London, who is a keen classical scholar, argues that the past 2000 years of European history have been characterized by repeated attempts to unify Europe under a single government in order to recover the continent’s lost “golden age” under the Romans.

“Napoleon, Hitler, various people have tried this out, and it ends tragically,” he says.


  1. Why East Europeans Still Have a National Consciousness 

History often has a keen sense of irony. Sometimes, even in the span of less than a human lifetime, there can be a dramatic shift in how people define freedom or what they see as a decent future. This has certainly been true in Eastern Europe.

Growing up in Communist Eastern Europe was not pretty. People were trapped in a depressing environment of concrete apartment blocks, breathing toxic air from Sovietized heavy industry, often struggling to find toilet paper or fruit and vegetables. You had to watch your language, because the wrong words got you in big trouble. Yet all of this was wrapped in regime propaganda that relentlessly trumpeted a rosy socialist future of equality and justice.

People saw through that. The authorities kept on about prosperity but failed to deliver even basic goods. Even though the West was officially the enemy, products from Germany and the US were deeply desirable. Outside of an extensive black market, Western clothes, electronics, cars etc. were sold only in specialized shopping malls for hard currency that only government officials could get. Hypocrisy and tension hung in the air.

When Communism collapsed in 1989 and 1990, economies were transformed into wild capitalistic systems and we turned to the West, often ferociously. What was Western and especially American, was cool. A lot of young people went West with hopes for a better life, often working in low-wage jobs in degrading conditions. We looked up to the West as a superior civilization with more freedom and better living standards.

This started to change. On the one hand, it is only natural that any outburst of affection should fade over time, but in this case, there were also other reasons. By the early 2000s the first era of joyous Westernization was over and people started to notice that the West wasn’t as awesome as they had believed. They began to mock maudlin American TV shows, Southern creationists, and the general level of American education, especially after G.W. Bush took office.

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