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World: Dominique Moisi Speaks With RFE/RL

Political scientist Dominique Moisi talks to RFE/RL about the structural and existential dilemmas the European Union faces.

RFE/RL: By now, enlargement seems to Western Europeans, the old Western Europeans, like a threat. Is it a threat?

Dominique Moisi: It’s definitely not a threat. I believe it’s an opportunity and, in fact, it’s historical justice done to our continent. But it is true, it is perceived, I wouldn’t say as a threat, but as a loss of identity -- "who are we?" I mean, there’s a sense of alienation which stems from an enlargement that has been in fact slow, but big, and that has not been prepared psychologically by the leaders of the West, of old Europe. And so I would say it is a threat to the continuation of Europe as a strong unity, as much as it alienates all Europeans, vis-a-vis new Europeans.

RFE/RL: Do you think if the politicians today were to decide to settle a border to the new Europe -- say it goes so far and no farther -- that that would bring the idea of enlargement closer to the old Western Europeans?

Moisi:I think we are at a turning point after 29 May and the French "no" [vote] in the referendum and 1 June and the Dutch "no." Europeans are asking themselves questions about their essence. The "who are we?" question is now a very big one, and this question is reinforced by a sense of uncertainty and self-doubt about the performance of Europe. It’s not only, "who are we?," but "are we competitive?"

RFE/RL: But do you think this is a question that waits for an answer from the politicians, from the political elite?

Moisi: Yes, I think so. We have been advancing, "marching masks," so to speak. The way the debate over Turkey went through is very indicative of that situation. I mean, there was an agreement over Turkey, but that agreement was reached in very unsatisfactory conditions. Everybody was, so to speak, battling, and the impression that the people could get is, "Once more, you don’t listen to us. You did not consult us for the last enlargement, and now we have the Polish plumber, and you still do not consult us. And now we will have the Turkish worker, and on top of it, he is a Muslim, so we don’t want him."

RFE/RL: But the Turkish worker is already in Western Europe and has been for many, many decades.

Moisi: Of course, but there is a sense of a total lack of familiarity with the idea that Turkey could join the European club. To a large extent, in terms of sheer perception, Europe is a combination between democracy -- which I believe Turkey is -- and the sound of church bells, and you hear much more the muezzin sound in Turkey. It is natural, it may be wrong, but you have to explain to Europeans that the Turks are part of the family. And the ones who want the Turks in the most -- the British -- do not have, vis-a-vis Europe, a sense of family. They are very distant, aloof.

RFE/RL: Do you think that enlargement is the right answer to conflict management? Take the former Yugoslavia, for example -- that the promise of enlargement brings in democracy?

Moisi: Well, I do believe that the ultimate weapon of Europe has been the carrot of enlargement. It has worked in the end in the Balkans. And if we stop using it, we would run a risk. But there are limits to that weapon. We cannot go on by saying to the rest of the world, "Behave [and] you will be part of the European Union."

Click here for RFE/RL interviews with Forum 2000 participants