Timothy Garton Ash: The Euro Survives, But Where are the Europeans?

tags: Guardian (UK), Timothy Garton Ash, euro, Europeans, European Union



Timothy Garton Ash is a historian, political writer and Guardian columnist. His personal website is www.timothygartonash.com

'We have made Italy, now we must make Italians" – thus the old saying. Today we have made the euro and the crisis of the euro is unmaking Europeans. People who felt enthusiastically European 10 years ago are reverting to angry national stereotypes.

"Hitler-Merkel" said a banner carried by young Cypriot protesters earlier this week. Next to those words there was an image of the European flag, its yellow stars on a blue background now angrily crossed out in red. Sweeping negative generalisations are heard about "north" and "south" Europeans, almost as if these were two different species. Yet what historian could seriously maintain that Milan has more in common with Nicosia than it does with Nice or Geneva? Even highly educated pro-Europeans say things in public about other nations that a decade ago they would not even have thought, let alone expressed. As parts of Europe became more anti-German so parts of Germany became more anti-European. A vicious spiral looms into view, like a twister on a rural highway in the American midwest.

We should note with relief what has not happened – or at least not for the most part and not yet. With the exception of neofascist parties such as Golden Dawn in Greece, European rage has not been turned against immigrants, minorities, and imagined fifth columns. Germans do not blame their woes on rootless Jews, Muslims or freemasons; they blame them on feckless Greeks. Greeks do not blame their woes on rootless Jews, Muslims or freemasons; they blame them on heartless Germans....




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