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The term East has a rather pejorative connotation in Europe. It derives from its opposite, i.e. the West. Of course, it has deep historical roots, but even those going back to the 20th century are enough to understand the whole context. East meant totality. It was formed by the Soviet Union with its satellites. The West was democratic and associated with Western European powers and the United States.
If it weren’t for NATO, Putin would probably be sitting in the Baltics. But because he doesn’t dare to go there, he expanded in another direction. To the west, where not only Ukrainians live, but also Russians. He used the same rhetoric as Hitler had once occupied the Sudetenland and “rescued” the German-speaking inhabitants of Czechoslovakia. When it all started nine years ago, it did not fundamentally shake the Czech political scene. On the contrary, the reactions were weak and the then president appeared, and above all, acted pro-Russian.
Then, when the Kremlin unleashed a completely open war in Ukraine, we realized that Russia could soon be standing on Slovakia’s eastern border as well. And that would be really close. Nevertheless, part of the domestic political scene is still willing to claim that this is not our war. As part of the expected “fatigue from Ukraine”, even half of the Czechs no longer support our military aid: let’s take a closer look at ourselves, don’t we have enough of our own worries?
Viktor Orbán is winning one election after another in Hungary. Many wonder how it is possible that a man who embodies Eastern Europe’s entanglement with Putin can be so politically successful. It is incomprehensible when viewed from Prague.
Even less comprehensible from this point of view is the overwhelming victory of political forces in Slovakia, which had to leave after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancee. By the way, if too many positions in the state sector of the Czech Republic are directly dependent on the political establishment, then in Slovakia this situation is even worse. So a lot will change in the coming months in the land of our eastern friends. And it is not at all certain whether it will be for the better, at least from our point of view.
The election campaign in Poland was also far from correct. So far, politicians haven’t slapped and kicked each other like in Slovakia, but the highest representatives of the army have resigned, which sounds like a warning.
The view from Prague that I have already mentioned can be distorted by inaccurate or even deliberately altered information. In addition, one must get rid of the compulsive feeling of declaring one’s vision and understanding of the world as the only correct one. It never is and never will be. But nevertheless, the social tendencies mentioned cannot be evaluated other than as disturbing. What is in our immediate vicinity may soon reach us. Historically, this has usually been the case.
And actually not only to us. Our western neighbors are also dealing with the strengthening of the AfD, which is a party that could shake hands with Mr. Okamura or Slovak nationalists.
Therefore, if in my Diagnoses I so often criticize the inability of our government to make meaningful reforms, it could happen that soon, perhaps after the next election, it will be about much more important social attributes of our social being.
No, I’m not trying to paint the devil on the wall. I’m just trying to define a tendency that makes not only our country, but the entire region a kind of whole again, which is rightly referred to as the East with a capital V.
In other words, an area where politicians manage invisible people in the background to decide on various social details. Where absolutely everything is possible, and no one is surprised or protested. Where politicians openly lie, and their lies are accepted with a knowing smile as “effective political strategy”. Where politicians boast about successes that perhaps only they themselves can see. Where fists are used in election campaigns and generals resign. Where the courts last for years and the state pays millions in compensation to people whose social status was previously destroyed. Where not a single university belongs to the world’s top, where the nation’s intellectual elite look for universities abroad for their children and then recommend them to stay there. And all this with a war conflict taking place on the territory of a state not even a thousand kilometers from us.
And please add the declining understanding of war-forced migration, the ever-present pretentiousness, and the rhetoric and actions of politicians that adapt to it. Even those who do not officially have this label are populist today, because it has been taken by their opponents, who are even more shameless in this discipline.
Moreover, for decades we have had at least a serious mainstream in foreign policy, and after the previous president, there was only an aftertaste and a few people left, who, however, will soon be forgotten in the context of fleeting events. Otherwise, Putin would have to smile contentedly. The East becomes the East again. So if he ever ceased to be one at all, the skeptic would add.
If someone should stand up to this negative tendency, then it should be a political force that stops boasting unrealistically about its alleged successes in parliament or only cursing from the opposition benches. He will not follow electoral preferences so much and will start promoting what he considers to be right in principle, not just convenient. But one to look at.