tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV January 10, 2016 10:00am-10:31am PST
>> this week on "quadriga," crunch year 2016. can the eu survived? the new year has finally begun and the eu is facing new crises. more and more states are read imposing border controls. poland's new nationalist government is curtailing democratic freedoms. nationalists and eurosceptic parties are gaining ground in
many countries. year16 set to the a crunch for the eu? what common glue holds the eu together? coming to you from berlin, "quadriga," the common debate. your host this week, peter craven. peter: hello and welcome to "quadriga" coming to you from the heart of the german capital. the new year has hardly begun and the eu is facing another crisis or crises. we've heard it all before. the european union has been threatened with breakup, perhaps. commentators seem to agree that a breaking point is near. the question we are masking -- asking and many are asking is, can the eu survive? i'm joined in the studio by three seasoned analysts and commentators. let me introduce them to you. wojciech szymanski, the german correspondent for the polish public broadcaster, polskie
radio. facess the european union huge challenges in 2016 and the new conservative government in warsaw is not going to make it any easier for the eu. a familiar face here is alan posener, a regular commentator for the berlin daily "die welt." he's brought with him some strong points of view. europe, he believes, should not try to defend poland's democracy against the poles, to open sweden's borders against the swedes and to reform greece against the will of the greeks. if the eu continues down the road, he says britain will lead and others will follow. judy dempsey is a senior associate and editor in chief at "strategic europe." according to judy, the recent changes in poland are a bad signal for the eu and europe's eastern neighbors. wojciech szymanski, let's begin
in poland. the latest crisis is still brewing. what we're seeing is a challenge to the european union, the european union's values. that is how many people see it. they see it as a coup d'etat. what is going on? wojciech: the new party that won the election is taking control of the country and the pace and the way the government is taking control over the country is pretty controversial. many say it's even unconstitutional. dangerous forlaim the values of the european union. there is some correction in the foreign policy direction. the polish prime minister and foreign minister said they do not want to make a revolution in foreign policy, but they want to make some corrections. i guess we see those corrections
already. in this week, the leader of the law and justice party met with victor ortman. i guess this shows in which direction those changes are going. i believe it's not western europe, not berlin anymore being so important for warsaw. it is rather those cities like prague, thatnk -- the new government is now facing. peter: one aspect of what you're talking about is a clampdown on the media in poland. you are a reporter for polish public radio. how great are your own personal fears and how great are the fears of your colleagues concerning this clampdown? wojciech: the fears are big among my colleagues as well. the project of the new media law that has been presented says
that the polish radio or polish television will no longer exist in this form. they will be transformed into another form, which means that andybody will lose jobs, they will be employed once again. many people fear that many of those colleagues won't get employed again. fear thats a big people will lose jobs. another thing is this new media direct influence of the government on the media. polish media has always been somehow influenced by the government. this is how it was always constructed. the national radio and television council was nominated by the parliament and president and so on. this new project says that the
nominate may simply new directors of programs. this is worrying. peter: big questions. give me a yes or no answer to this. is polish democracy under threat? wojciech: not an easy question to answer. [laughter] peter: yes or no. wojciech: you will find plenty of people in poland on the streets every saturday saying yes. there are also many -- peter: we will leave it there. thank you very much for that summary of what's going on in poland. judy dempsey, you wrote an article that says poland matters. i think it was called "why: matters." the discussion we are having, why does poland matter? judy: it is a very big member of the european union.
it has been playing a very important role inside europe in terms of trying to persuade its allies to have a proper security defense policy. above all, it's reached out, and the polish german relationship has blossomed. it has been so good that not just the press contacts, the number of students studying here, but actually the trade between poland and germany now is higher than bilateral trade between russia and germany. suggestlan posener, you that germany is bullying a number of european countries, perhaps certainly poland. alan: i agree totally with what judy said. poland matters incredibly. it's our most important member of the union facing russia. i think it's really terrible
that we have just agreed against the wishes of the poles for a second gas pipeline to be built, bypassing poland and connecting germany directly to russia. poles feel their national identity is being threatened by their big neighbors, who in the past have not been very nice to them to put it mildly. this fuels nationalism in poland. this shouldn't have happened. judy: i completely agree, and it is rare that i agree with alan on this. the building of the pipeline under the baltic sea, russia will be able to directly transmit gas to germany. it creates a mockery of the eu policy of energy diversification. it creates a mockery of eu legislation and it creates a mockery of the whole polish-german relationship of transparency.
this pipeline is in the interest of the german companies and of russia. when: many poles say that germany calls for solidarity, for example, poland should help germany with this immigrant crisis, many people say, this is what you call european energetic solidarity, building another pipe? the first i was already a punch in the face. argument for an those people who say, this is not what european solidarity looks like. judy: i think there's a bit of too much german bashing in this sense. when angela merkel became chancellor in 2005, one of the first things she did was to repair the damaged relations between berlin and warsaw. she defended poland inside the eu when putin and the kremlin and forced a meat ban.
wojciech: this north stream thing did damage to this relationship, but i agree that those relationships were blooming not only on political level, but also economic and social levels. peter: let's take a break for just a second. we are talking about developments in poland since the election. let's look at how europe, the eu, can react to them. have a look at what has been going on in the last couple weeks. >> in poland, it is not just the weather that's cold. the political climate is frosty as well. just before christmas, when people were out buying gifts, the governing conservative party took steps to weaken poland's highest legislative courts. people took to the streets in protest. it will now be more difficult to impose constitutional restrictions on the government.
and right before new year's, the government got parliament to amend poland's media law. this would give the government more control over public broadcasting. many see these moves as a frontal assault on the rule of law and a danger to polish democracy. peter: a couple of hints at some of the fears people in poland perhaps share. i want to talk about a story we've all been talking about in germany, what happened on new year's eve. i think many viewers will have heard, dozens of women say they were victims of abuse, mugging, sexual assault. under suspicion came a large number of men who, judy is assumed ton who were be of north african or arab appearance.
we have to be terribly cautious and careful here. judy is nodding again. there's so much prejudice in this story. that things went down apparently and this is important for our discussion. wojciech, you were telling me the polish government is wallowing in this, pointing his finger and saying that's what you get in liberal promiscuous europe and we don't want it in poland. wojciech: we had this big discussion about refugees before the elections. shall poland take refugees or not? europe,er countries in there were people saying we should not do it because it may be dangerous. mayuse things like in colon happen in poland. ayople who thought this w can say today, that is what we said. peter: [indiscernible] we should point that out for our viewers. wojciech: the story is very complicated.
not only in poland, the people who oppose immigration or help for refugees feel they were right. peter: judy, what do you think about all this? judy: the very slow reaction by the german media to report on this -- of course the facts weren't clear, but there was only one newspaper that reported it immediately. that was the local newspaper. i fear there was a bit of political correctness here. one criticizesf the refugee policy, you are in the race. pre-exit, actually nothing can go wrong. it is unbelievably complicated. we have to be very open in explaining that there are situations that we now have to deal with. -- from a verye different culture -- are going
to try to settle in europe. there is going to need a huge political will, and will from the cedi, -- from the society, to try to integrate them. peter: is the refugee crisis going to lead to europe's downfall as many say it well? alan: no. is, the funny thing is, in poland, the people who say, look what you get from letting refugees into the country, have a very similar few of women as many of the refugees coming to us. they are very conservative. there have been no reports -- no one has done what they did in ireland, showing how much abuse there's been by the catholic church. ofre's been no criticism what happens to women in the
home and so on. i think there's a double standard here. to get back to your original question, will it destroy europe, it won't destroy europe, but it shows there is a divide between what some countries feel about immigrants and what other countries feel about immigrants. we've had 50 years to accustom ourselves to the fact that we are a country of immigration. up until about five years ago, the ruling city didn't accept this. why should we demand from poland that they take the road which took us 50 years in five or 10? we can't. it's true that polish society is in many parts very conservative, but comparing this attitude towards women with conservative muslims i think is too much. media hasing, german been criticizing the polish situation very hard lately because of the changes in media
law. now, many polish people can say -- it's already happening. germans are teaching us on media standards, those germans who needed for days to report on what's happening in colon. true thatt, it's poland has very little experience with immigrants in the 20th century and 21st century. very little experience with muslims. people, when they hear about muslims, they hear only that somebody made an ambush or killed somebody or did world trade center or "charlie hebdo" or something like that. suddenly, western countries want to relocate thousands of muslim people to poland. many people get scared. you have to think about it. judy: let's get things into perspective. it's about sharing the burden of
people who need refuge, who have faced torture, who have lost everything, who we have turned a blind eye to, who we didn't do anything to intervene, who we haven't even helped properly, the countries at the forefront, jordan particularly and lebanon. these people need help. judy says that's what it's all about. alan: i agree totally. the problem is, if a country like poland elects a country which says, we don't want them, as the british, as the french, as nobody wants them even within germany -- judy: no, alan. they are using this rhetoric in order to keep away, or to actually ape the populist movements. the national front in france for instance.
this is the wrong policy. what is lacking is the whole policy of communicating. why are the refugees here? what is our aim? how do we end the conflict in afghanistan and iraq and syria? we can't leave these million people just stranded and witness every single day people drowning. moralch: there's this issue also concerning poland. poland is the country which has exported millions of, maybe not refugees, but immigrants all around the world. huge polish communities in the united states, in germany, in london, in great britain. it is somehow difficult for poland to say, we don't want anybody, and simultaneously send millions of people everywhere in the world. peter: we are talking about the values that underpin the european union.
let's have a closer look at what those values are and discuss them. >> article 2 of the european constitution lists a number of core values upon which the eu is founded. these include respect for human rights. but as the refugee crisis continues, many eu states have ignored these values. freedom of movement. sweden and denmark recently took action to restrict the number of refugees coming into their countries. solidarity among member states. many southern european countries feel the eu is giving them a hard time. and britain is set to hold a referendum on whether to stay in the eu. respect for democracy. nationalism is on the rise in many eu states. right-wing populists are trying to undermine the cornerstones of democracy in general and the european project in particular.
alan posener, hungary links with poland. the front nationale in france, states closing their borders, the brexit in the u.k. -- is there one common thread, one common factor? alan: yes, and it isn't what your short film said. it isn't the fact that these people are against democracy. it is that they feel they've been dispossessed, disenfranchised, and they reflect that on europe. they have the feeling that they need to regain some of their powers that have been delegated to brussels. peter: so these are national states clawing back some sovereignty. it, europe hase virtually no legitimacy to pass laws which overruled national
parliaments, yet it happens all the time. this has to change. peter: you said the eu has virtually no legitimacy to pass laws. does the eu have legitimacy? judy: the european parliament has legitimacy, but its powers aren't very strong. it is dysfunctional in many ways. remotee increasingly from the citizens of europe. forget --one must hes of young swat people who have no perspective. youth unemployment is so high, these people are on short-term contracts, they can't afford to settle down, they feel disorientated. peter: surely, wojciech, young
poles have had a good deal from the eu. i don't know if i can subscribe what judy's been saying. wojciech: you can say in german -- [speaking german] people innt of young poland is high, around 12%. young people in poland, many of whom are rooted -- many of whom voted for the conservative party, are not offered anything to start a normal life. those short-term contracts, we call it in poland the garbage contract. you get some money, not much, but no social insurance, nothing for your later years. you may be fired every day. esis is what many young pol see every day. the advantage given by the european union, some young
poles emigrated to germany. you wrote in your text, that they still vote for the law and justice party, but they see one more thing living in great britain. being a bus driver, working as a cashier in tesco, you may lead a normal life in great britain or germany. in poland, it's impossible. this is what makes young people so disappointed. this is what made them vote for change in october. peter: some important points being made. we are all nodding. wojciech there's something else. the lack of expectation and the lack of perspective actually corresponds to the growing of the old,ent established parties. the political parties have
somewhat atrophied or they just take their power for granted and they don't communicate policies and they don't give the citizens a stake in the society. you are getting this trend across europe. disenchantment with the political parties. this is a line of argument we've been hearing for two decades. i suppose the big question we have to ask is, does the eu therefore still have the political glue to keep it together? there's something remarkable about institutions. they are loath to give up power and loath to change. they are kind of self-perpetuating. bureaucracy gets bigger. that is a kind of glue. peter: do you have a more optimistic take on that question, wojciech? that we maym afraid
find this glue in europe which will keep together only those core countries of europe, which would be a fatal development. peter: alan, your take? alan: i think we need to take the british position more seriously, which is that the main glue of europe is the common market, trade. europe has to create jobs, has to create economic growth. if it does that, people will fudge the political issues. if europe doesn't do that, and look at the eurozone, anemic growth everywhere except germany, if you go down that path, you can't generate growth. what do you expect? peter: we have to leave it there. interesting stuff from alan posener, judy, and wojciech. thanks very much indeed. will europe survive? maybe. stay with us.