What does it mean to be a ‘European’ in the present period of crisis : A Russian Perspective


Written By : Ksenia Antropova
Export Development Advisor, Saint Etienne

Photo Credit: shutterstock.com

I’m deeply and strongly convinced about the important role that the European Union plays in our daily intellectual life.

I come from Russia, the country having the largest territorial presence in our planet, where I’d grown up under an atmosphere of Nationalism with overpowering desire of domination on the rest of the world and a blatant hostility toward the European Union. Now, after living in France and being a part of a bigger geographical community, I can myself see that my attitude has changed a lot and keeps changing day by day.

Firstly, is it all about the geographical community? Not at all. It is about human values, respect for lives, acceptance of differences, freedom of movement, and this is a deep and almost imperceptible feeling of wild brotherhood built on the same concepts and values. Nowadays, to know that an Italian or an Estonian is suffering from Covid-19, losing their families and friends, or, broadly speaking, losing economic stability and comfort, makes me think about how to withstand this period together and how to repair our living space together once we get beyond the current period of health crisis.

To be European for me is to feel European at first, and before everything else. It is not an intrinsic concept with which you are born (like citizenship, or colour of your skin, or colour of your eyes). It is more like a conviction. Either you believe, or not.

This week I was contacted by a Ukrainian partner who was looking for respirators. Their local hospital is hugely lacking medical equipment and they, as a private firm, have decided to buy devices for hospitals. Because there is no other help coming to them. There everyone tries to save themselves.

The big advantage of the EU is to be a community. Certainly, nothing is perfect, and there is a large number of areas to work on. But all these countries, being part of the EU, have the possibility to improve or change things. It already exists. Certainly, the structure is very heavy, very slow to make decisions. But we can hope and wait for help. Here is the sense of positivity.

Out of the EU, you are alone facing difficulties. Out of EU if neighbour helps you, you are sure that there is an interest behind. It won’t be for free. It might be used in future negotiations as a good manipulation tool. Why does Russia help Italy with bravery? Isn’t this because in 2019 Giuseppe Conte has started discussions about anti-Russia sanction abolition? Or why did the Russian plane go to the US with medical help? Is it to have a base for future oil price negotiations? Everybody knows that with the current Brent oil price and pandemic situation Russia is about to collapse.

What does it mean to be a European in this crisis period? It means to accept critical patients from your neighbouring countries in your hospitals because you have supplementary beds. It also means to help your foreign fellows as a doctor, both without any administrative complications for crossing borders. It also means to share information, and I want to emphasize, real statistics about your real situation. And to appreciate and welcome the success of the neighbouring countries in fighting human disaster while presenting news, even it is a small one, and to take examples from this success without feeling yourself weak or less intelligent.

To be European is to share a specific set of common values, keeping your own culture, your mother tongue, your country/region/family traditions intact. Europe is not France + Germany + Italy + Spain + other 23 states. It is a supra idea, a supra concept, a supra phenomenon.

Of course, during this COVID period countries have closed their borders and probably it has been a normal human reaction. Just imagine: there is a storm coming to your village. Would you run to your neighbour house to give him a hand to close all the windows? Or would you run to your house first to be sure that everything is protected and your family is safe? Just, be honest…

Probably, you haven’t had this general feeling of belonging to this supra concept. I’m not speaking about any political point there, but about ourselves. And in this case, should we start by ourselves before blaming a huge work that has been done to vanish, as if it was a mirage? Okay, let’s say “to smoothen” differences, to set common points, to cultivate this new philosophy of big community?

… I remain deeply and strongly pro-EU!

(The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Multidimension’s editorial stance.)

By @multidi_mag

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