The reputation of the European Union has once again been tarnished. This time the blow to the EU’s image was caused by the remarks of the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, on account of Vladimir Putin winning the sham presidential election. “Congratulations on your re-election,” were his words to the re-elected Russian president and he continued his tweet by saying that “I have always argued that positive relations between the EU and Russia are crucial to the security of our continent.”
As if this were not enough, Mr. Juncker also expressed his enthusiasm for the Kremlin’s demands for a new Europe-wide security architecture. This proposal was arguably designed to ultimately split Europe from the US and weaken the stability of NATO as well. Just like President Trump, who was also criticized for congratulating Vladimir Putin on winning the election, Mr. Juncker was also censured for keeping his mouth shut about the brazen ballot stuffing, the intimidation of independent candidates, the unexplained deaths of activists, the role of state media, and a number of other strange occurrences leading up to the poll.
This once again shows how the EU is losing its courage to do the morally right thing – to stand against the oppression of human rights. Even though the US seems reluctant to promote democracy overseas, the EU should still be the forefront as a shining beacon of hope for anyone who is willing to stand by the principles of democracy and the protection of human rights. Thus it does not come as a surprise that Mr. Juncker’s statement infuriated British officials, with Ashley Fox, the leader of Britain’s Conservative Party in the European Parliament, describing the European Commission President’s letter to Putin as “disgraceful.” She emphasized that congratulating Mr. Putin on the outcome without even mentioning the horrible things that had contributed to his reelection was a horrible gesture.
The sad thing is that the EU doesn’t view this as a cowardly approach. Brussels thinks that this is just a next step to the “stabilization” of the bloc’s international relationships. European leaders are purposefully avoiding sharing any negative opinions about their trade partners publicly, in fear that it might be counter-intuitive to the “stabilization” movement. Throughout the whole Europe, we can find cases where the EU kept its mouth shut about its partners and didn’t uphold its original values. Thus, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both welcomed the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi with open arms, despite the fact that the Egyptian election was just as much of a sham as the Russian election.
China is yet another great example. The country has been criticized for the Communist party’s actions. Yet, despite mass surveillance of its citizens, harassment and imprisonment take place every day, the EU still conducts business with Beijing. What is even worse is the fact that European leaders distance themselves from any further comments. And even if they finally decide to act and comment on the situation in China, their voice isn’t unanimous. For example, Greece refrained from any criticism against China, claiming that it was “unconstructive.” While it is understandable why Athens took this stance, since China is a major investor in Greece’s biggest port, if the EU wants to be taken seriously, it must be unanimous in its statements. All in all, the EU is now facing a shameful reality. The Union has lost its backbone just to preserve the false idea of “stability”, which will come back and haunt it one day.
‘The EU Has Decided That It’s Time to Cuddle Up to Dictators’ – Op-Ed by Judy Dempsey – Carnegie Europe.