Smug and wrong
Arvamus 22 Jun 2010  EWR
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E.L., Eastern approaches

SMUGNESS is rarely in short supply in western Europe. But here is a particularly prime example from the Spanish paper El Pais. A commentary on "eastern Europe" by Cristina Galindo argues that:

The truth is that the East lives in almost constant turmoil since 1989. Two decades after the end of communism, some of the area countries which have joined the EU still have trouble achieving stable democratic systems. Experts attribute it, among other things, the lack of consolidation of political parties, after years in the power of one-party communist.

There is a lot more in a similar vein: the easterners are corrupt, nationalistic, backward and "lack consolidation". (The article is in Spanish but Google Translate does a perfectly adequate job).

One striking failing in the article is the double standard. The east Europeans are accused of having weak government (chaotic coalitions) and of having overly strong governments (Hungary). What are they supposed to do. These sentiments have always been unpleasant and they come particularly badly from a country which had a far easier time emerging from totalitarian rule (compare the pampered treatment that Spain, Portugal and Greece received when they joined the European Union with the far stingier and slower welcome that the ex-communist countries had).

But the argument is downright risible now. The Baltic states (despite confident predictions to the contrary) did not descend into political and economic chaos when their bubbles popped at the worst possible time. Instead they tightened their belts and regained their competitiveness. (Rather unlike Spain, some might note). And now Estonia is joining the euro.

Read on here:
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