Picture credits: Christer Fredriksson, National Geographic
Article by Gayk Ayvazyan
From its inception, Europe was the place of various happenings and saw the rise and the fall of numerous countries. Thus, the borders of Europe have been changing constantly and various ethnic groups have been intermingling among each other, but what about the image of Europe nowadays? With the accession of Croatia, the number of EU countries reached 28 and new borders were established. However the debate about the candidate countries and their “fitness” into the EU family will never come to an end. It is always so hard to define what the borders of Europe are and which countries belong to Europe and where does it end.
To keep it short I have to say that this above mentioned border is more a political term than a cultural one. Put simply, Europe ends where the perception of the values are different from the European ones. What is that supposed to mean? I consider nowadays Europe as the home of many nationalities, however there are certain sets of traditions and values that all ethnic groups shall comply with. These standards were set by the founding countries of the EU and more powerful states of Europe on its own. This was dictated by history and other political factors. That is why every new state had to comply with these norms. Etymologically, the word “Europe” comes from Greek, but this state was not a founding state of the EU, however Greek culture is deeply rooted into the idea of European traditions. Therefore it is wiser to think that every state of this region that has these common features can be called European, since it is also able to add something new to the idea of European values and is somewhat connected to those shared ideas.
Picture credits: www.ec.europa.eu
And more interestingly, these values can be adopted. Thus, every nation or state can easily adopt and use the European approach in the questions of respect of human rights, political freedoms and so on within its own borders. In some sense it is a set of skills for nations or countries which can be trained. Therefore the borders of Europe will always expand. Most likely this process will never go in hand with the expansion of the borders of the EU, but more importantly the main idea of the European Union will still remain even for non-EU states. That is what I find more fascinating. For instance several non-EU states right now are on the threshold of signing the DCFTA agreement (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area Agreements), which will allow countries such as Moldova, Armenia and Georgia to be connected with the EU better through trade. This is just one example, while there are already many EU-run organizations which operate and develop European values in non-member states, which constitute part of the Eastern Partnership countries.
Dubrovnik, Croatia – picture credits: www.dubrovink-pupotravel.com
Thus, what does it take to be a European? Does it mean to have a European passport or just an identity? I believe that being European doesn’t come with the color of the passport, however it comes with the perception of the reality of one or another person. Therefore, the borders of the EU and Europe are totally different and the borders of the latter one end only at the point when the perception of people about the world or a given region goes behind the ordinary horizons. In its turn these horizons might be broadened only thanks to education, which brings us to the point of communication between different nationalities.