The EU makes a major statement. Have the non-EU Europeans signed up?
Last week Marietje Schaake, a Netherlands MEP, delivered on Newsnight (see it here), an emotional, impassioned yet controlled appeal for a strong response from the EU to the mealy mouthed, paranoid Vladamir Putin who had clearly briefed his media minions to get him off the hook for the downing of MH17.
Ms Schaake represented and gave substance to the values of a formally united Europe. The Netherlands is a small country (16 million people) with much less international influence than Britain, France, Germany. Like all countries of the EU, The Netherlands has survived a troubled history of border disputes and religious and political upheaval but has made major contributions to what underpins our nations collectively and individually – freedom, democracy and The Enlightenment. Today, 30th July, the EU finally positioned itself, united, behind sanctions against Russia, which Ms Schaake sought.
These sanctions are not directed against the people of Russia but against a man and his regime which has been seizing land in pursuit of the re-establishment of a failed empire.
The Ukraine, and other nations which emerged from the old Soviet Union or from its influence, deserve the same opportunities as all its neighbours in the EU. Putin’s Russia is a dangerous anachronism.
Border disputes in Europe post WWII have been tetchy at the very least and involved protracted discussions but have achieved incredibly successful outcomes particularly since the evolution of the EU to its most recent manifestation.
The 30 July 2014 should be an important moment in our collective histories when all people in the EU and the rest of Europe start to understand the broadest possible picture of the good that can be achieved in a strong formal union of free, enlightened, democratic countries.
Switzerland for instance, should re-examine its sanctimonious, convenient commitment to neutrality and ask itself in a referendum whether it can any longer be so selfish as to expect the rest of Europe to protect its frontiers whether those frontiers are geographic or economic. I doubt they have signed up to the sanctions and I wonder what would have happened had the ill-fated MH17 been a Swissair flight.
Nigel Farrage, leader of UKIP and pom pom waver for Putin has unsurprisingly been a little muted of late. But in fairness he might have been dealing with the induction of Charlie Brooks into the party.
People in non-EU countries should listen to Marietje Schaake’s words because what will be achieved from today’s statement could not happen in a divided Europe.