Sunday, March 9, 2008

What is Europe today?

Politically vibrant, historically rich and intellectually aggressive – one can find a series of similar phrases to qualify this continent of diverse cultures. Perhaps it is the decisively political happenings which began at the time of Greeks and Romans and which endure even to the present moment that have drawn much attention of the world towards this continent than anything else. Two world wars, innumerous political movements, overarching political decisions, all have kept the continent years ahead of many other regions of the world. If the word 'political' has been added to the modern day lexicon of any educated man, we owe a lot to Greek philosophers and thinkers.

Europe, the origin of all continental expeditions which started from 15th century onwards and which resulted in the colonization of many regions in Asia, Africa and Latin America, is currently attempting a new political unification process – the EU or the European Union. The Schengen agreement, in which fifteen countries - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden and Norway and Iceland (non EU members) – are members, is already a step towards this unification process.

Boundaries disappear but identities remain. The current menace is not from an outside agency which is bent upon imposing its political ideology on a group of people - like the Soviet campaign in East European countries till 90s. The challenge before the countries in this continent today is to sustain their economic growth while giving due recognition to all ethnicities and religions that inhabit them.

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