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Five years to EU membership

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Although belated, I've been writing some reflections on the anniversary of Lithuania's EU membership elsewhere, and decided to write about it here as well. Five years ago, on the first of May, the country was supposed to be celebrating. Public transport was free that day, and there was a free concert in the old town.

I was going to this concert with some friends, we were on one of the free buses running from Baltupiai to the old town. Suddenly a fight broke out among several people, and one of them hit another's head with a bottle of beer. It could have been the "Euro" beer - a popular cheap brand at the time.

Remembering this, I was thinking that this scene depicts what the EU has become in the mainstream Lithuanian imagination today. We ride somewhere on a bus, available to us because of the EU (which has repaired roads, schools, public transport and other infrastructure across the country), yet use its symbolics to hit each other on the head. Five years after the enthusiastic EU entry, public intellectuals are mumbling about the dictate of political correctness, threat to national sovereignty, and, most of all, the perceived attack against the "real values" by euro-homosexuals. The EU is now called not "Europe" (the heartland of individual freedom and refuge from the "Eastern neighbour"), but "Brussels" (the ivory tower of "rootless cosmopolitan" bureaucracy).