In some ways, the video, though objectionable, was unremarkable: Campaigning for European Parliament elections, set to be held this week, was beginning to ramp up, and my native Greece, still grappling with the aftermath of an economic crisis, was trying to deal with the consequences of the refugee crisis, which saw more than 1 million people pass through the country more than 60, refugees still live in horrible conditions in camps and temporary accommodations here.
Questions of crime, culture, and history have been front and center in the debate between the two main parties, the leftist Syriza and the center-right New Democracy.
Yet the video was not some organic response to that political situation, nor was it even made in Greece. Despite protests by Guy Verhofstadt, the Belgian member of the European Parliament targeted in the video, Facebook refused to take it down , and it has so far garnered more than 9 million views. Read: Macron and Salvini: Two leaders, two competing visions for Europe.
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With Greeks and others across Europe casting ballots this week in elections for the European Parliament, the impact could soon be clear. Greece is particularly susceptible not just to illiberal campaigns, but also to the transnational disinformation campaigns that have become de rigueur across Europe.
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More recent events have divided the country further. As the Facebook video was being circulated, the government in Athens was closing in on a controversial deal with neighboring Macedonia that would have involved the former Yugoslav republic changing its name to ensure that Greece relented on a veto barring Macedonia from joining NATO.
Read: What Europe can teach America about Russian disinformation. That deal between the two countries has proved fertile ground domestically for the illiberal politics that appear to be gaining traction across Europe. It is this that our egregious prime minister has been trying to dispense with, in a way that would risk a return of the Troubles and undoing the patiently negotiated Good Friday agreement. Here, two years ago, I witnessed a speech by Barnier that was thoroughly reasonable but widely misreported in the British media — including, I regret to say, by the BBC.
When I returned to London I could hardly believe the way Barnier had been reported.go site
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The theme was that the rest of the EU were out to punish us. What he actually said was that there would be consequences, for us and them, if we went ahead with Brexit. By the way, I have no idea what the outcome of this farce is going to be, but I do know that many of us Remainers regret that over the years we ourselves were not more positive about the advantages of belonging to a powerful customs union, with more than 70 trade agreements, and a single market that has brought many good things to our daily lives, to say nothing of all the environmental and safety benefits, as well as freedom of movement — often confused with the separate issue of immigration.
Such a fall would far outweigh the deleterious impact of the and recessions, which went down in history as the worst since the Great Depression of the interwar years.
Enough said? Now, when the deluded army of Brexiters goes on about the British people having spoken, I start counting the spoons.