February 26, 2003

Chirac's Eastern European Gaffe Redux

Chirac's Eastern European Gaffe Redux

More commentary on why newish European precincts were so outraged by Chirac's comments at the recent EU summit:

"Chirac insulted all spent half a century tethered against their will to the Soviet Union. Many had to watch as Soviet tanks trampled their aspirations to independence. The Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania lost their short-lived interwar independence when they were annexed by Stalin. The Soviets crushed a Hungarian liberalization movement in 1956. Czechoslovakia's hopeful "Prague Spring" ended with Soviet invasion in 1968. On Moscow's orders, Poland's government suppressed the Solidarity movement and declared martial law in 1981. Since emerging from dictatorship, these countries have all been keen to join the EU, Western Europe's big democratic club. But they have no desire to replace the Soviets' yoke with that of Brussels--or Paris.

Just look at the swift reactions to Chirac's comments in the Eastern and Central European press. "Chirac has spanked us," complained Bulgaria's Trud the following day. "Candidate countries do not want to join the European Union to be quiet, but to express their opinion more forcefully," Slovakia's Pravda seethed. The Czech Republic's Dnes condemned Chirac as "a boor with little diplomacy." And Estonia's Postimees wondered "whether France really wants to recreate lines of division in Europe."

Posted by Gregory at February 26, 2003 09:59 PM
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