The lingering migration crisis has produced sharp divisions within the European Union

The following is a guest post by Dr. Mária Schmidt, director general of the House of Terror Museum and the XXI Century Institute. The text is an adaptation of remarks delivered by Dr. Schmidt at the conference convened March 22 on the results of the Századvég Foundation’s Project 28 conference. The full text, in Hungarian, is available here.

The lingering migration crisis has produced sharp divisions within the European Union. It brought divergences between Britain and the Union that reached a breaking point, resulting in the Brexit vote of 2016. The crisis poisoned relations between the eastern and the western parts of Europe. Differences regarding mass immigration were not the only reason, but they brought to the surface divisions that encroached upon mutual trust and are now a threat to the very survival of the Union.

The birth of the Union happened to a large extent because the two opposing superpowers of the bipolar world, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, were ideological, military and economic competitors. Their duel ended with the victory of the consumers’ market economy and the complete failure of the socialist model. The Cold War was won by the West: Europe and its key country, Germany, were reunited. But both the Union and Germany misinterpreted their reunification and therefore drew the wrong consequences.

For example, it would be beneficial for both Germany and the European Union to finally realize that if its eastern half is not considered an equal partner, it has no chance to overcome the hurdles of the present nor of the near future. Germany should understand that it is neither a western nor an eastern country. It is in the middle, hence it is a central European country. It has tested both sides of the Iron Curtain. Its geo-strategic position enables it to become a link between the two halves of the continent, bolstering its unity and cohesion.

Yet the vanguard of the West’s 1968-ers want to regain the old world where they can again be alone amongst themselves. They hope that the project calling for a two-speed Europe, also called the creation of a core Europe, will bring back the good old days. We, on the other hand, are not willing to think of the future in terms of a project taking us back to the past or in terms of another ultimatum presented to us by the West.

The lack of understanding between western elites rooted in 1968 and our region has thus a 50-year history and is the main reason why that vanguard is unable to part with utopianism. Back in the day, they chased the mirage of an ideal socialism and didn’t want to know what existing, implemented socialism, the one we were forced to live in was like. Today, they fantasize about multiculturalism, the United States of Europe and the victory of globalism.

The 68-ers were and have remained utopians. The difference nowadays is that they are not aiming at worldwide socialism, worker self-management or the elimination of exploitation, et cetera, for they are leading lives too comfortable to do so. Instead, their main causes are universal human rights, free markets and trade, the priority to be given to financial markets, that which is globalization. The new equality they stand for will be achieved through the Holy Trinity of multiculturalism, globalism and immigration. And with it, a Brave New World will be created.

We Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and the rest -- those who regained our freedom 30 years ago and set ourselves free from the grip of the Soviet Union and from the communist experiment that was imposed on us -- are convinced that the most effective way to represent the interests of our fellow countrymen is within the framework of our own nation states.

We don’t want to give up our sovereignty for the sake of any distant center or hand over the power to decide on matters concerning us to unelected and therefore unaccountable bureaucrats.

The divergences between the two halves of Europe, the utopian West and the realist East, also include a moral dimension. In other terms, they are about values because, as reunification was sabotaged, the European Union has not become a community based on shared values.

The leaders of the European Union and the opinion-makers in Brussels have committed themselves to a utopian and globalist political culture that surely seeks to override the nation states. Therefore, any mention of religious or national traditions with positive connotations will be considered scandalous and a threat to transform the Union into a European empire.

Anyone who holds patriotism, religious faith, the role of the family as being important, anyone who rejects gender theory or dares to question the multicultural future envisaged for him or her, is considered an enemy by western elites.

Thinking in terms of a shared Europe with them? How? In order for that to become possible, they should descend from their high horse so that we can look each other in the eye. They should stop lecturing us and instead allow us to start talking to each other.

Read the Hungarian-language version of this text in its entirety here.