In the March-April 2016 issue of New Eastern Europe we hosted a debate on the future of Europe. In light of the refugee crisis, risk of a British exit from the Europe Union, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the threat of terrorism and the war in Syria, all of which are connected, it is clear that the old continent is at a historic moment of extreme uncertainty.
We asked experts and thinkers from the region and beyond to provide their thoughts on the current situation in Europe and what they believed lies ahead.
All texts originally appeared in New Eastern Europe issue 2/2016: The Eve of Uncertainty.
By Tomas Venclova
“In these less fortunate times, all I can say with certainty is that the 21st century will not be easy. In the worst case scenario, it will be as difficult as, or possibly even more so, than the 20th century.”
By Aslı Erdoğan
“I am from a Muslim country and I do not feel fundamentally different from someone who has grown up in England or the Czech Republic. When you meet Syrians, they are just like you. It is a superficial way of thinking to claim that their culture is totally different.”
By Luiza Bialasiewicz
“Charity is made of absolutes; in this particular case, it relies on a simple scenography of the figure of the innocent and needy refugee to be saved and redeemed, with us Europeans as the gracious saviours. It is a political and geopolitical rubric that does not admit complications.”
By Samuel Abrahám
“Reflecting on the turmoil occurring in Europe today, one is prone to ask whether it is a symptom of the larger global crisis or a sign of the European Union’s systemic weakness to withstand pressure from within.”
By Natalia Sniadanko
“The most important lesson for us all of recent years is realising the need for a more active dialogue between European countries. This is especially true of Ukraine.”
By Matthew Kott
“A fundamental problem with the current structure of the EU is that it remains a confederation of national states that retain so much sovereignty that common actions required to meet today’s problems are almost doomed to fail acrimoniously.”
By María do Mar Castro Varela
“Europe is not only a powerful idea but also a picture in constant transformation and blurred around the edges. Interestingly, debates on the expansion of the EU are seconded by serious exit debates: Grexit and Brexit.”