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Konrad Werner: When is Europe going to stand up for itself?

Turkey is imprisoning people at will, Poland is subjugating the judiciary, Hungary is putting up anti-semitic posters and beating the shit out of migrants. Why are we still complaining about politics when democracy is being unravelled?

Image for Konrad Werner: When is Europe going to stand up for itself?
Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and Angela Merkel. Photo by European People’s Party (CC BY 2.0)

This week, the German government finally decided to mention that Turkey is now imprisoning German people arbitrarily without allowing consulates access to the prisoners. It might not be a good idea to go on holiday there, they said.

It didn’t look good for Angela Merkel. While she went off on her holiday, she left it to Sigmar Gabriel, the foreign minister and vice chancellor, to abandon his own holiday to “re-orient” Germany’s policy to Turkey. Would’ve been nice to have heard something from her.

Now it might be time for someone to say more about Poland – which has just decided that the ruling party should appoint judges – and maybe Hungary, which is busy clamping down on NGOs and human rights organizations and beating the shit out of migrants and putting an anti-semitic poster campaign on its bus stops.

Both countries, like Turkey, have now decided to just unravel democratic foundations. Maybe they’re just experimenting a bit, like children, trying to work out what else their toys can do, as if all the things that make a democratic state a democratic state are just so many Lego sets, to be smashed up and built up again. Like children, everyone seems to be easily bored – of freedom, of security.

It’s all a bit worrying, especially because of the complacency going round among the adults in the room in the rest of Europe. We still seem to be complaining a lot about liberals and left-wing politics and right-wing politics when the actual things that make politics politics are being unwound. It’s just all a bit troubling. And it might be nice if Merkel said something – her expert passive manoeuvring (voting against gay marriage?) isn’t nearly enough at times like these.