>> it's exactly 10 years ago that europeans celebrated the unification of their continent. a very warm welcome to "european journal." in this special edition, we will be looking at the eu's enlargement, and we will also be looking at some of the country still in the process of becoming members. we'll be taking you to ukraine, poland, latvia, cyprus, and serbia. we are high above the rooftops
of russells. europe's top politicians often have their sights set on too. whenever important decisions have to be made about the eu, they call a summit meeting. >> the year was 1990 seven when a climbing party of five countries embarked on their ascent of mount europe. their mission was to conquer the summit in luxembourg. in hindsight, it was an adventure to remember. >> some countries were faster -- slovenia, hungary, czech republic. estonia, i think, as well. but the others -- i think the status of those countries was stimulus for the others to proceed faster. >> for example, cyprus, who caught up as the summit loomed on the horizon.
the first task was to meet the economic and political conditions. they needed a solid base camp with stable democracy. their guide, the european commissioner for enlargement at the time knew it was an ambitious climb, and he had to convince the long-term summit dwellers, above all, france. >> the point was not that they rejected the idea of new members or that they wanted to deny particular countries access to the eu. the concern of the french was rather that eu enlargement would change the balance of power within the european union in favor of germany into their own disadvantage -- and to their own disadvantage. >> yugoslavia changed the mission scope and speed. eastern enlargement suddenly meant bringing in 10 countries as quickly as possible.
>> the war in kosovo in 1999 made it clear to everyone that war had not been entirely banned from europe. in fact, we understood that european unity was the only reliable tool to bring peace to europe for good. >> the new map of the eu would now look like this. 10 countries were now facing one last steep climb at the copenhagen conference. >> at that point, the summit appeared to be very far away. in fact, i felt a bit like we had to climb the north face of the tiger and the swiss outs, but in the end, we made it. it was a miracle. rex at the foot of the acropolis in athens, the eu's new and old leaders put down their names in the summit. together, they had overcome the cold war division of europe for good.
on january 1, two thousand four, it was time to celebrate. but not all of the new members founded easy-going in the environment. the financial crisis in europe posed stark challenges for many and even former high achievers such as slovenia were left struggling. >> i think we still have to think how to fully implement the principles of rule of law, of social market economy. also respect for human dignity. i think that we are still a country -- a former communist ountry in the transition.nist >> where the 10 countries rushed into getting to their destination. >> i do ask myself today whether we should have done more to prepare the new members for the fight against corruption and to help them set up a more stable justice system.
but i have to say that the main problem in these countries is not the absence of strong institutions and legal agreements. it is, rather, the people themselves and their political culture. >> that was particularly true for the next countries to reach the summit. romania and bulgaria joined in 2007. croatia followed in 2013. >> we have climbed down and are now inside the belgian military museum. their collection includes some impressive cold war memorabilia, such as this soviet big 23 fighter. the cold war is, of course, over. many soviet satellite states are now firmly positioned in the west.
but when ukraine was poised to sign a free-trade agreement with the eu, it was as though somebody had turned back the clock to the times of two opposing blocks. a tug-of-war over ukraine ensued between east and west, between moscow and brussels. >> the ukrainian city was once widely known by its german name. it has 700 50,000 inhabitants. it is the most western oriented city in the ukraine. the polish border is just 80 kilometers away. the few ethnic germans who live here keep up their traditions in the clubhouse. the same building houses the association of hole is culture. today, a choir rehearsal is on schedule.
in between the carols, there's one topic of conversation -- the european uni. these people are among nearly three hundred thousand ethnic poles in ukraine. they have ethnic passports. many of them fear their government could make a bad decision that would chain them to russia. >> leaving is out of the question. we cannot just drop everything and go. i would really like to finally live in europe with my husband and daughter, but i hope i do not have to flee ukraine to do that. >> my grandfather always said that it mustn't come to the point where they have to seek our polish bones all over the world. this used to be poland. that's why i remain here as a pole. i am protecting what the ukrainians have not destroyed yet.
>> there have been demonstrations here, too. on some afternoons, 20,000 people show up to call for ukraine to orient itself towards the west. no one here favors a customs union with russia. >> shame on putin. he will not let us join the european union. >> moscow wants to force us back to the soviet union, back to the stone age, but we are a modern people. we want to be part of europe. >> the next morning at 6:00 a.m., we are in a bus with the ukrainian tour group. first, the prayer. the group hopes to go to poland for a few hours to honor the composer of ukraine asked national anthem. he is buried in a little village in present-day poland, less than 100 kilometers away. the problem is the border. it can take up to seven hours before everyone on the bus has got through the controls. these people have been through
this before. it's frustrating, but no one dares complain. but then, a small miracle occurs -- the presence of our camera team seems to have motivated the border guards, and we are through in a mere two and half hours. the ukrainian passengers have never experienced anything like it. >> your camera was a big help. we have never got through so fast. the border guards were never this friendly before. you can accompany us any time you want and show your viewers what goes on here. maybe then something in ukraine will change because of the eu. >> our destination is this wooden church. the village priest here died in 1870, and this is where he composed the music of the ukrainian national anthem, whose lyrics translate, "ukraine has
not yet perished. today, the words seem as relevant as ever. that's why the people are so emotional about singing the ukrainian anthem in poland. some of these singers have polish passports. they belong to the ethnic ukrainian minority in poland, and they are all owing very closely what happens in ukraine. >> i feel sorry for my countrymen. i worry about their fate. when i imagine ukraine joining the european union, i shed tears of joy. these are our brothers. i sit in front of television and watch ps and tremble with excitement and nervousness. >> most people in the villages here agree. as fate would have it, 50,000
ethnic ukrainians ended up on the polish side of the border, and that is in the european union. their children learn the ukrainian language and polish schools. the eu strongly supports minority languages. these days, the children are very aware of the nearby border. >> i was once there with mama and papa. everyone had to show their passports. otherwise, we would not have been able to go on. even i needed a passport. >> and he will need one for some time to come if he wants to visit ukraine with his parents. what direction will ukraine take? can its people still dream of a place in the european union? maybe by 2024? >> poland has benefited tremendously from eu membership, and it has left its mark on the eu in many ways, too. this area here outside the european parliament in brussels
is named after the independent trade union that traded poland's liberation from communist rule, but the enlargement of the eu was not a success for every member. take cyprus -- many had hoped that by joining the eu, the mediterranean island would finally overcome its internal division, but he's there still has to be safeguarded by human soldiers. >> it's quiet along the buffer zone. the united nations patrols do not have much to do along the demarcation line that separates the northern and southern parts of the island. to the north, heavily armed turkish forces watch over the no man's land. the buffer zone ranges in width from a couple of kilometers to a few meters. for 40 years, there's been no major violence here, but tensions between north and south still run deep. >> he looked at his potential
for the conflict to clear up again. the idea of a buffer zone is a good idea. >> there are some signs of normalization on the two sides. cypriots from north and south have started farming the land in the buffer zone again. the u.n. supports this development. 10 years ago, greek cypriots would not have farmed here for fear of the turkish army. today, greek and turkish cypriots sometimes meet here. >> we do speak with these people or there are turks up there from turkey, soldiers. we want to go back to our land in the north. also. refugees do. >> nicosia is the last divided capital in europe. there are a couple of places where you can cross the border, but not much else has changed since cyprus joined the eu 10 years ago. talks of reunification have stalled. nicosia blocks erect contact between the eu and the turkish
north. turkish cypriots say that's not fair. >> only the greek cypriots get eu benefits like subsidies. all we have is the ability to travel freely in europe but only when a passport from the south. >> but interest in the eu and the euro has been waning in the south. europe us economic crisis has sparked a heated debate about the pros and cons of eu membership. >> we should leave the eu. what have they done for us? have they solved any of our problems? >> what would happen if we were not in the eu? we would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. >> before joining the eu, greek cypriots rejected a proposal to reunite with the north. many critics say that was a mistake both in political and economic terms. >> we would have needed to build new infrastructure to integrate
the north and part of cyprus to the south. water supply, electricity, the telecommunication, and communities to operate in turkey and to expand the shipping industry. >> stuck in the buffer zone between north and south nicosia is an abandoned hotel. a dance troupe of greek and turkish cypriots meets here under the watchful eye of the united nations. troupe members say they are optimistic about a peaceful future. the songs and dances are the same. just the colors of the costumes are different, but that's simple message is not always easy to get across, especially to the younger generation. >> a lot of people under 40 have never met people who live on the other side of the border.
i remember the positive aspects of everyone living together. that's worth fighting for, and that's what we want to show people. >> nicosia's old airport is also caught in the buffer zone. it has been closed for civilian traffic since 1974. a somber reminder of the last divided country in the european union. >> whenever new members are welcomed into the eu, buildings have to be refurbished in brussels. just take the interpreters cabins behind me here in this committee room of the european parliament. the interpreters of the eu now work in 24 languages. each of them were added as a result of the eastern enlargement process 10 years ago. one of them was latvian. as one of the alternate tiger economies, latvia is seen as a
country that has been quick to adapt, but it is also home to a large russian-speaking minority, and they feel their country is moving westward without them. >> the ruins of the military harbor of one -- are one of edgar's favorite spots, even in a rainstorm. the 20-year-old knows no better place to practice his dance steps. many of the protective walls eight back -- date back. maybe the soviets continue to use the base. after latvia became independent, more than 20,000 soldiers were pulled out. >> many people who live here just want to get away. the young people look at their parents and think, "i don't want to live like that." they just want out. >> in front of the splendid orthodox churches, the soviet era prefab houses look all the more dilapidated.
7000 people, because it's cheap. unemployment is high, and new jobs are not in sight. >> i grew up here. it's a fairly wild and dangerous area. sooner or later, you have to decide -- do i want to get stuck here like most people, or do i want to find my way out of here? >> is out after eu accession took him to britain where he worked as a laborer on a chicken farm. about 200,000 latvians have integrated. many of the work in construction or farming. this is the steelworks nearby. there was always work until the plant went bust weeks ago. more than 1500 people are out of a job. a skeleton crew is keeping the
plant functional. they hope to find an investor to revive it. the introduction of the euro means greater competition in the steel market. >> i won't find work again soon, so many of us are unemployed, but now there will be even more. i guess i will be spending time sitting around at home. >> the employment office holds english courses for laid-off metalworkers. many intend to look for work and other european countries, and the latvian government is happy about everyone who does not go on welfare when public coffers are so empty. he manages a large construction company that builds all over europe. >> for us, the euro is a financial instrument, just like the lat, which was already pegged to the euro for four or
five years. we have already been living with that fixed costs. >> the latvian entrepreneur who studied in germany says economic freedom in the eu is what has made him successful. 60% of his orders now come from outside latvia, including for the heat and power units he produces in his factory. in the dismal housing settlement, edgar and his friends are afraid that the new money will just mean faster inflation. many people here are already poor. after the 2008 crisis, let be a cut social services drastically, thereby also fulfilling the more strict criteria for joining the euro zone. there's no money for social workers or a youth club. those who try to offer something to get young people off the street do it as volunteers. >> i could have just left.
a few times i wanted to, and we could travel within the european union. but i always recognized that this is my place -- the place where i belong. i can do what is important to me. >> edgar's dreams of a bright future -- he would like to become a police officer when he has finished school, with a secure income in euros. >> the building sites of brussels are notorious, and they have often been used as metaphors for political life here, too. behind me, you can see the new european council building taking shape. sometime in the future, it will be here that european politicians will decide whether or not to welcome even more members to the club. five countries are currently applying for membership. one of them is serbia, but serbians themselves have still not made up their mind whether or not they are actually in favor of the eu and its values. >> you can see the economic
decline throughout the capital, belgrade. sony a says the suffering is tangible. she says serbia's elite is pushing for eu membership as the way out of the crisis, but in her view, it will take more than economic reforms to get over the wars and atrocities committed in serbia's name in the 1990s -- 1990's. >> is conditioned by also dealing with the past. >> back in the mid-1990's, he founded the helsinki committee for human rights in serbia. the nationalist dictator was ousted in 2001. elections in 2012 returned some proponents of greater serbian
nationalism to power, but nowadays, they want to be in the eu. >> it's not easy emotionally. >> includes the party leader and deputy prime minister, the most powerful man in serbia says he has changed. here he is passing out certificates for winners of a school competition. he promises the up-and-coming scientists a future in europe. just over six years ago, he was a staunch nationalist. as a member of the opposition, he wanted to have a belgrade street renamed after the serbian general known worldwide as the butcher of the balkans. >> it's a way to show that we
will fight for freedom and that we love and understand serbia and the serbian people. >> today? >> [inaudible] >> now, the reformed nationalist says he wants to modernize serbia and lift it out of misery. during the election campaign, voting had to be pulled forward because old coalitions collapsed ahead of time. >> the reform is within each and every one of us, but we will live that her and no one will be stealing from you, and no one will grab from you. we will build a tolerant society of those who want a decent serbia. >> but political groups further to the right are critical of this approach. in their view, the government is
bowing to eu pressure by tolerating the independence of the former serbian province of kosovo. >> with the brussels agreement, they portrayed the republic of serbia -- betrayed the republic of serbia and our national interest. >> words like that make this human rights activists wonder if anything has really changed. in the evening, she meets an old colleague. both say they have little confidence in the new leaders and that they hope the eu keeps up the pressure. >> that report wraps up this special edition of "european journal" with its look at 10 years of eastern enlargement. a very happy and healthy 214 to all of you. we'll be back next week from our studios in brussels, as usual. until then, auf wiedersehen and bye for now!
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