The Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev, who is a widely respected scholar of the post-Soviet world, warns of a clash of cultures between an Eastern Europe attached to its identity and a Western Europe that is both individualistic and cosmopolitan.
Krastev wrote the following:
“The ethnic compositions of the countries of Western and Eastern Europe are very different. In Austria, every second child has at least one parent who is not Austrian; 95% of the inhabitants of Poland are Polish. In addition, since they have no colonial past, the Eastern countries feel no guilt about the fates of the countries of Africa and the Middle East.
The migration crisis has clearly demonstrated that Eastern Europe views the cosmopolitan values upon which the European Union is founded as a threat, whereas for many Western citizens, it is still these very cosmopolitan values which constitute the very heart of the new European identity.
In summary, the waves of migration have led to a renationalization of politics and a concomitant resurrection of the dividing line between East and West.
“This fracture can be observed even inside Germany. It is in the east that the anti-migrant party, Alternative for Germany, has had its biggest successes.
“Faced with the influx of migrants, many Eastern Europeans believe that the hopes they had placed in EU membership – hopes that this would generate prosperity and put an end to the difficulties of their daily lives – were betrayed. As they are typically poorer than most Western Europeans, they simply do not understand why spontaneous humanitarian solidarity for refugees should be expected from them.
The reaction of Eastern Europeans to globalization is not so different from that of those white American working-class people who voted for Trump. These people consider themselves, on both sides of the Atlantic, as the ‘losers’ who have been forgotten.
The fact that the peoples of Central Europe are demanding the closure of the borders of their countries thus constitutes a delayed reaction to the demographic hemorrhage that followed their opening in 1989.”