A Kafkaesque Europe is taking shape in Prague
Everything that happens in Prague bears traces of Franz Kafka. Not just because Kafka is from the Czech Republic, but rather because, for my part, I have found that everything that happens in countries that once gave life to trade unions such as the Cominform, Comecon and the Warsaw Pact have Kafkaesque attributes, like good old Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus but also Prussia (may she rest in peace) and the Soviet Union (which cannot rest in peace even after his death).
Dictionaries define “Kafkaesque” as an adjective used to describe “bizarre and impersonal administrative situations where the individual feels powerless to understand or control what is going on.” How else could one define the situation in Kafka’s latest novel “The Castle” when the protagonist, known simply as “K”, finds himself in a corridor leading to rooms with open roofs in the middle of the night to to be interrogated by the secretary of a gentleman from the castle? The secretary tells K to wait his turn, but he himself falls asleep.
Kafka’s French equivalent, Emmanuel Macron, or “Mr. M”, is calling for political and strategic discussions on the future of Europe as the first major military conflict threatens to spread across the continent, but does not invite the warring parties to the first summit of its brainchild: the European Political Community (EPC). Yes, the French Prime Minister has invited Ukraine, but I am talking about the parts of the proxy war that are taking place in the country: the United States and the Russian Federation.
It’s Kafkaesque, indeed: an existential unrealism, a sense of detachment from reality. Here is a nation (Russia), citing Ukraine’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, which aimed to give Donetsk and Luhansk regions special status in the country, sending armed forces to bomb civilians , hospitals, nurseries and schools while another nation (the United States) pushes Kyiv to accept the protocols negotiated by Germany and France to buy time while helping them to establish powerful armed forces. Yes, Ukrainians are chanting battle cries like “War to the last Ukrainian”, but in reality it boils down to every last US dollar and European mercenary. Mr Macron kicked off the inaugural meeting of his invention with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy’s speech from Kyiv in which he once again pushed for accelerated membership of NATO and the European Union, but this plea was not is not realistic. Neither the European members of NATO nor the EU itself wants to breastfeed the crying Ukrainian baby. The situation is truly nightmarishly bizarre and illogical. If that’s not the classic definition of a Kafkaesque situation, I can’t imagine what is.
One of the only “non-Kafkaesque” developments in Europe in general and in Ukraine in particular, has been the simple grain corridor opened through the simple efforts of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The prisoner of war exchange agreement brokered between Ukraine and Russia by President Erdoğan was also an un-Kafkaesque development in the bizarre 231 days since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Do Macron and his French-speaking Eurocrats in Brussels really want peace in Europe? If so, then why didn’t the largest gathering of Europeans bring Russia together? Twenty-seven EU members and aspiring EU members in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, as well as the only country that has left the EU, Britain, have received an invitation. Turkey was also among the invited countries despite the contrary efforts of Greece and the Greek Cypriots. This is most likely because Greece and the Greek Cypriots have been spoiled by the joint amphibious exercises with the French Navy. For some strange reason, the French Navy wants to strengthen its interoperability with the Greek Navy. He says they “wish to consolidate their defense and security cooperation by upholding freedom of navigation and international law.” Maybe in another Kafkaesque situation, if they’re fighting Russian forces in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, they need that consolidation. But the Greeks must first stop the flow of Russian oil to Europe via the waters off Greece. According to a Nikkei analysis, in the past six months, 41 vessels have carried out ship-to-ship oil transfers off the coast of Greece with tankers leaving Russia and then arriving in European ports. However, France being one of the beneficiaries of this illegal Greek transport, the French navy should cover the Greek ships.
The inaugural EPC summit at Prague Castle began with an opening ceremony and then a series of meetings during which leaders discussed the main challenges facing Europe; security, energy, climate change, the dire economic situation and migration. But what were the end results?
If this was just to show support for Ukraine without actually committing to granting it EU and NATO membership, then why was President Zelenskyy’s speech so dreary? If this was to tell Russia that the Europeans would not tolerate another attack on another European country, then why is Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mocking the Europeans? , asking them to decide whether they want the Ukrainian conflict to be resolved diplomatically or in a violent way?
The only good thing about the summit was the many side meetings Erdoğan had. In fact, in a trilateral meeting, Erdoğan spoke with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. Erdoğan also held closed-door talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. He also had brief conversations with several leaders on the sidelines of the summit.
The summit also added to the ego of Mr M, who said what Europe needed was “a new space for political and security cooperation, cooperation in the energy, in transport, investment, infrastructure, the free movement of people and in particular of our youth.” The summit may or may not have provided that space for Europe, but it definitely creates space for its ego.
I also hope that presidents, prime ministers and their staff have found the opportunity to get new versions of old Kafka books. The publisher had cleaned up novelist Max Brod’s edition of Kafka’s original manuscript. Brod had seized the opportunity and completed Kafka’s unfinished novels and published them. Meanwhile, Macron has created his own union of Europeans above NATO and the EU, which is truly Kafkaesque!