US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Events such as the coronavirus crisis have not happened in the world, and therefore it is impossible to rely on some familiar model. Scientists collaborating with the British government claim that infection control will last for a year. According to the Deputy Minister of Health of the Chechen Republic, Roman Primula, perhaps everything will drag out even longer.
There will be an economic crisis in Europe, and then a war. Such rumors have been circulating recently among Syrian refugees in Greek camps. Therefore, some of them are seriously thinking of returning home, where, as they think, the prospects are much better. Are we really facing something like this? Let’s try to predict what could happen on our continent and in the Czech Republic in the near future. This is rather difficult, and, by the way, some media outlets, trying to look into the future as well, warn: “Nobody knows what the coronavirus will take and how it will affect the local economy in the long run,” the Politico portal writes.
Events such as the coronavirus crisis have not happened in the world, and therefore it is impossible to rely on some familiar model. We can recall the experience of local pandemics before the Second World War and in the first years of the communist regime. The economic crises of the past days also remained in my memory. What facts do we have and what do the experts say? Scientists collaborating with the British government claim that infection control will last for a year. According to the Deputy Minister of Health of the Chechen Republic, Roman Primula, it is possible that everything will drag on even longer, and therefore we will not be able to visit abroad for another two years. Also, we expect a decline in the domestic economy, according to forecasts by Deloitte, by ten percent.
The European Union missed the start of the crisis, and China, Russia and Cuba pushed it back with humanitarian aid in the most affected countries. These countries are trying to squeeze the maximum out of collapse. “At least for a while, the European Commission has abandoned its commitment to the rules. Previously, she always insisted that any European action should correspond to them. Now its principles vary according to circumstances, ”writes Politico. In fact, some European countries began to close their borders without coordination with each other, to detain and even steal medical supplies.
But everything is changing. Germany, which itself has been hit hard, offers assistance to the more affected Italy and Spain, while in Brussels they are considering banning the introduction of restrictions on the export of medical supplies and are creating a fund for urgent assistance to the affected countries. All this is promising, and nevertheless, apparently, there will be exceptions, such as, for example, Hungary. Such countries will not think about the common good, and their regimes will take advantage of the crisis in their favor.
Anxiety is caused by the passivity of the Americans, who seemingly abandoned the role of guarantor of security in Europe and in the world. President Donald Trump is mainly concerned with domestic issues, and he is not interested in events and obligations abroad. Americans, for example, limited their participation in the Defender of Europe 2020 exercises in May and June, in which 37,000 soldiers were planned to be involved, and thanks to this, the exercises would become the largest in the last 25 years. “Protecting the health of our own and allied forces is our priority,” the Pentagon argues.
We are faced with an unprecedented situation, since such a sharp drop in our country’s GDP only happened twice in history: it fell below 20% during the economic crisis in the early 30s of the twentieth century, and about 10% of GDP decreased during the transformation of the economy into early 90s. But then society was in euphoria due to the fall of communism. How it will perceive it today is a question. 20 percent unemployment is also an unfamiliar phenomenon. Greece has always got used to it. Until 2012, such unemployment was in Spain, and in 2010 in Lithuania. The maximum unemployment in the Czech Republic was 8.8% in 2000.
Months or years
Let’s outline three main scenarios. Option A is optimistic. A month will pass, and maybe more, until everyone comes to their senses and everything gradually returns to normal. The industry will return to work, and automobile plants and other enterprises will open again. European solidarity will be restored, and the EU will greatly help the most affected countries, especially Italy and Spain. The countries of the Visegrad Four will leave borders closed prohibitively and take advantage of the crisis to gradually strengthen authoritarianism. But they, fortunately, will have to face themselves in a reasonable framework in the face of the rest of the European Union.
Even in this very optimistic scenario, we are likely to face a restriction of freedoms in the name of preventing emergency situations. In particular, mobile phone tracking will be installed, which some governments are already introducing to better control the pandemic, as well as quietly switch to monitoring via the Internet and social networks, thereby trying to prevent the spread of misinformation. For a while, society will become poorer, but thanks to the great potential of the economy of the European Union, welfare will soon recover. European solidarity will help the poorer part of the European Union, and thanks to it it will be possible to accept new members. In different variations, this scenario is very likely.
Perhaps a little less chance of implementation for option B, so to speak the middle way. Europe will overcome the effects of the pandemic for months and even years. Production at some enterprises will remain closed, and there will be more and more of them, since in some industries, such as the aviation industry, a sharp decline will occur due to travel restrictions. The West of Europe will finally soften the regime of restrictions, and some countries, such as the Visegrad Four, will continue to insist on them, despite the objections of Brussels.
This will once again lead to disagreements in the European Union, which will face a shortage of will and solidarity with the victims. Thus, the EU will show its helplessness and either soon simply collapse, or remain in a symbolic form, like the CIS after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Maybe the EU will split into the old core, the Visegrad Four and all the rest. But President Trump, on the contrary, will come to his senses, and NATO will save Europe in many ways. However, the alliance will not interfere in the internal affairs of member countries, and therefore authoritarianism will flourish in the countries of the Visegrad Four. For the Czech Republic, this will mean that the government of Andrei Babish, in spite of the promises, will tighten the screws, or someone else will come to power.
“In the interest of health” may leave a ban on meetings. The authorities will take control of state and other media, “clean” the non-profit sphere. In this scenario, the Schengen area will forever be a thing of the past. Free movement without borders, possibly in the eyes of many people, including due to political propaganda, will become the main culprit of the pandemic. Most likely, border control and customs will be returned to the borders, but they will eventually be allowed to travel freely, in particular for economic reasons.
China spreads influence
The “most catastrophic” variant C seems to be the least likely, which assumes the same events as with variant B, with the only difference that even NATO will not save the situation, and we will remain at the mercy of authoritarianism and the influence of the powers: Russia, China, Germany and the USA . The biggest threat to Europe and the Czech Republic will be the establishment of authoritarianism in any form in Germany and nostalgia for the past.
The threat of Russia is in second place. She loves to intervene when she sees a chance for herself, as was the case with sending medical supplies to Italy. If forces were weakened and guarantees were lost, Moscow, apparently, would not hesitate to annex the Baltic states or establish friendly regimes in Eastern and Central Europe. But the pandemic will probably weaken Russia itself.
If anyone makes money on coronavirus, it is China, which takes advantage of its position as the main manufacturer of masks and medical supplies, thereby spreading its political influence. China wants to become a power equal to the United States and is achieving this with the help of friendly regimes and politicians (one of them works in our city of Prague). The danger that the public, having forgotten about criticism, will admire the methods of the communist Celestial Empire (after all, it resolutely coped with the pandemic!), Is more than real.
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