Exactly a year ago at the dawn of February 24, 2022, the Russian army attacked Ukraine, likely starting a whole new sad chapter in history. Beside the difficulties however, the year has also brought solutions to several questions European countries have long been trying to find the answer for.
The last year saw the European Union, which had been so often criticized for its slow and cumbersome processes and its indecisiveness arising from conflicting member state opinions, demonstrate an unprecedented unity in terms of giving military aid to Ukraine and getting rid of the energy dependency from Russia. The European Union has clearly arrived on the geopolitical stage and stepped up as an actor that can influence the world in political affairs. The difficulties united the public of the EU as well, creating a common discourse we had never seen since the foundation of the community.
On the other hand, you cannot ignore how a particular member state government kept on sabotaging the process: acting as Vladimir Putin’s fifth corps, Viktor Orbán and his regime have actively been trying to subvert Europe and weaken the community ever since the war broke out.
As of today, we don’t know how the EU will settle the matter of this obvious destabilization attempt, but the solution must certainly come sooner than later. If the European Union is now willing to take action and protect democratic systems outside its borders in Ukraine and Moldova, our community must clearly do so within its own territory, too, especially because the upcoming period will increasingly be characterized by another major challenge: how to stop autocratic leaders who are now ready to go beyond their usual silent subversion and use violence to blatantly attack other countries. The example of Ukraine clearly shows where this kind of politics leads.
The next year will likely put the strength of European democracy and the resilience of free countries to an even harder test. I hope that we’ll come out stronger, just like we did last year.
Disclaimer: the sole liability for the opinions stated rests with the author(s). These opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Parliament.