Monday, October 7, 2013

Bright and Dim Spots on Europe's Periphery

The last week has been marked by some good, some bad, and some downright absurd news items in the European enlargement and foreign policy dossiers.

The Economist described Vladimir Putin as deserving "the highest medal of Ukraine," in a claim that the Russian leader has done more to rally the Ukrainian political elite toward a westward outlook than any other figure.

Radek Sikorski, the prime minister of Poland, agrees. "“Ukraine is on the final lap, and it must double its efforts and finish off the job…we’ve done it, so can you,” he said in a conference at Yalta recently. The historical poignancy of that statement, made in the same city that witnessed the 1945 decision to carve up much of the European continent, was likely lost on no one there. 

The EUObserver cited Mr. Sikorski last week as a potential next-in-line for Catherine Ashton's job as EU foreign policy chief.

Ukraine's westward shift seems not a moment too soon: Russia has been exerting pressure on its former satellites to join its economic union, along with Bulgaria and Moldova. Armenia has already caved, with recent announcements confirming it will look to Moscow for energy support.

So, a little good, a little bad. The absurd comes from the government of Italy, newly entrusted to Prime Minister Enrico Letta awarded citizenship posthumously to some of the African migrants who died in the capsizing of their boat near Lampedusa. The survivors, meanwhile, still hold illegal status. 

The world's strivers hoping to migrate to Europe must be wondering, on the road to a better life and European-style prosperity, do they have to die to earn it?