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C O N T I N E N T  :  E U R O P E

Mere geographical expansion won't make it the next US

   Come 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania would be joining the European Union (EU), thereby taking the tally to 27, a significant milestone towards thEU expansion in phases e endeavour for a United Europe. Already, EU had a major increase in membership in 2004 (10 new members). With commitments made to many others for future accession and many looking at it as an eventual integration of a divided Europe - Bulgaria and Romania would probably be followed by Turkey, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Georgia and possibly even Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. But the unanswered question is whether Europe is heading in the right direction. Even when it is making economic and political reforms mandatory before allowing final accession to new members, there remains a yawning gap between the economic situations of West and East Europe. Beyond mass immigration problems, there remain much deeper troubles that have often plagued East Europe. Balkanised Yugoslavia is yet to come to terms with reality and ethnic problems still remain in Kosovo. If the disintegration of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia had the complete support of Europe, then how does their eventual integration into the EU again help matters? Add to tEU expansion in phases his an Islamic Turkey whose accession is opposed by many and the strained relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine's dependence as well as problems with Russia.

Would the richer Western European members be willing to subsidise them forever with money and material? Would it eventually help Europe or lead to the mess that the USSR created by its continued subsidy to its Eastern counterpart and eventually ending up in bankruptcy and disintegration? If EU has to make something worthwhile out of its unification, it has to make sure that the end result be not what happened to the USSR. Relentless expansion will not make it a strong counter to the US.

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