The current crisis, looked upon from further east
This summer we stopped back in Latvia on our way to Russia.
During the week as we were waiting for visas, I overheard a lot of things along the lines of “they have completely broken away from the collective and become remote from their people.” But the main shock for me was a one-off attempt at reading the latest Russian-language press. The quotas of refugees for Latvia were being discussed just then, along with the great reluctance to take in these same refugees.
I scanned several newspapers. They all wrote about the “nightmare brewing in Europe” in a tone of aggressive and malicious ignorance that I found quite unfamiliar. I really had the feeling I had opened a neo-Nazi website. The only difference was the gloating at the Latvians, who had discriminated against “us,” the good guys, and now were going to end up with “them,” those awful people.
At first, I decided something had changed over the years, and then I realized it was I who had changed. I tried to remember how things had been before and realized these newspapers had always written in a similar tone. I just used to think this was normal. I had even considered the Russian-language press internationalistically minded in comparison with the already quite right-wing Latvian press.
“The EU fortress has proven itself to be a heavily fortified yet ideologically empty construct, and the far-right hordes are cheerfully taking up the opportunity to fill the charmless vacuum that the bureaucrats of Brussels have created around themselves.”
Nearly six years ago, at Keleti pu, Budapest’s largest train station, a group of people got on an early morning train headed for Vienna so that my South Korean partner and I could get married in a small town in Burgenland. We had more or less randomly chosen the location because the wedding halls in Vienna had been all booked up. And as I was still living and studying in Budapest during those times, the venue to choose had to be close enough for us to take the train back and forth across the Hungarian border in one day. So Burgenland it would be.