The end of Europe as we know it?

The war in Ukraine disrupts the post-Berlin Wall order in Europe: the end of Scandinavian neutrality and equidistance, war memories and field choices in the Balkans and the acceleration of European Union enlargement in Eastern Europe. What impact and consequences the war has on the citizens of a Europe which has changed its face perhaps forever.

We’ve been discussing it during a panel jointly organised with Debates on Europe at the Lectorinfabula international cultural festival, which was held in Conversano (Southern Italy) end of September. The speakers were Kateryna Mishchenko, writer and publisher (Ukraine); Faruk Šehić, author and poet (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Maarja Kangro, fiction and non-fiction writer (Estonia) and Carl Henrik Fredriksson, programme Director of Debates on Europe (Sweden, Austria). It was moderated by Serbian-Italian journalist Marina Lalovic.

“Listening to Putin was like getting into a time machine,” said Faruk Šehić recounting the déjà vu he had in the days before Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February. The same mechanisms that marked the war in the Balkans in the 1990s are at play today, he noted. And what happened should have come as no surprise; the speech held by Vladimir Putin just before the invasion was basically the same as those by Radovan Karadžić back in 1992: Bosnia is not a real country and shouldn’t exist, Bosnian Muslims make up a fake nation, and so on. If Russia will win the war in Ukraine, open conflict will immediately flare up in Bosnia”, Šehić warned. “And that war in Bosnia, will not stay only there. It’s like opening Pandora’s box.”

While recognizing the solidarity shown by many countries, Kateryna Mishchenko described a profound feeling of loneliness as one of the strongest characteristics of what it means to be a Ukrainian today. Ukrainians are in the end alone in this war: “They are getting weapons, they are getting money, they are getting promises of European integration – but it is they who have to die, to sacrifice their lives.”

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