A Europe we don’t know

February 26th, 2014

While it seems that the crises in Ukraine may be over at last, there are few things that should be noted. First of all, we must be thankful, hope and pray that no more bloodshed such as what we saw last week in Ukraine will continue.


Of course that seems to be a given. What should be even more acknowledged, however, is a reality that still exists where we least realize.


Many experts reading this may be puzzled by this comment.  Anyone with any knowledge of Ukraine’s history could have probably seen this coming. Not to mention the fact that we still see government instability in countries all over the world. Just look at Venezuela, where there are riots going on in response to the government. There is also Sub-Saharan Africa, and we should also not forget the 2010-2011 Arab Spring. But these represent countries that have been in the news for years; it would seem to be no surprise that these events would occur.


For my generation, however, somewhere such as Europe does not seem like a place where such turmoil would still occur. For us, it seems like this passed right before we entered the world. The first two World Wars which ravaged mainland Europe might as well have been 1,000 years ago rather than less than 100 to college students who go abroad to study there.


To many my age, even many who are European, everything seems so planned and ideal when compared to the rest of the world. But to my grandparents and even my parents’ generation, this belief is not at all old.


Having been born in 1992, I entered the world during the first full post-Cold War year. Even after reading numerous history books that cover that time period, I still have no idea what it truly felt like to live during that time era. This was obvious when I found a world atlas in my grandparents house from 1987 and laughed at the different Eastern European country names back then. My dad in return chuckled and said that did not seem at all out of place when he was my age.


Fortunately, the Cold War is over and hopefully the world will never have to face something like a conflict like that again. But there is no denying that certain remnants are still prevalent throughout Europe and the mess has not been completely cleaned up yet.


Some states have made great progress in the last 20 years. Poland, Czech Republic and some of the Baltic nations are fine examples of how quickly they were able to make the transition from communism to democracy. Anyone who goes to these countries today would find it hard to believe that they were in dire economic trouble less than 25 years ago. Meanwhile, countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and the Balkans struggled to adjust, and still bear the brunt of troubles today.


If there is one thing that Euromaidan demonstrated, it is that the remnants of the Soviet Union still linger in the minds of many of its former subjects, albeit different ideological viewpoints. While communism may no longer be an option, Russia still desires to spread its influence.


But the other thing that we saw was that not everyone is willing to stay in the past, which is probably why the protesters were successful. If that continues to be the case, than perhaps Ukraine and other former Soviet countries will finally be free.