Over the weekend, my family and I had to travel through the Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG) in Paris. It was Easter, and it's pretty difficult to force people to work properly during the holidays. However, one may also think that Easter is the perfect time for Islamic extremists and their clandestine organizations in Europe to carry out fresh terror attacks.
The security in the airport was no different from any other day. Moreover, we were able to pass through passport control and got to the wrong terminal because of the chaos of continuous flight changes that day. Then — to get to the right boarding gate — we were allowed to go back through security, from where we could have made our way back outside.
We didn't think much of it — after all, we were a couple of law-abiding citizens — but imagine if we wanted to stay in France illegally… There was our chance — after getting through passport control we had officially left the country and therefore, did not exist. De facto we could have gone outside and left for the city.
All this sounds even more astonishing because three and a half years ago (long before Ukraine, the new Cold War, migration crisis and explosions in the middle of Europe), the situation was no less absurd — but in a different way.
We were in CGD and had to get a connecting flight from another terminal — we failed to check the tickets which said that the arrival and departure flights were in two different buildings. So, we had to go "through France" which would only take 10 minutes. Our son did not have a visa and was detained by the police. They removed our luggage, very politely asked us to fill out several forms and then in handcuffs and under permanent surveillance carried out by two well built officers we were eventually allowed onto the plane. There could, of course, technically, be a much simpler solution.
Russians are already used to the fact that at most border controls in Europe they are treated worse than Third World citizens. The humiliation has become so common, it's almost become a tradition.
A well-dressed businessman from Moscow gets asked much more questions than a poor (in all aspects) Middle Eastern migrant or citizen of Ecuador, who has the right to stay in the EU for 30 days without a visa, for that matter. This is even more bizarre, taking into account the cultural, religious and economic closeness of Russians to Europeans in contrast to the hordes of Arabs invading prosperous western countries.
One may remember years of European stubbornness and the refusal to allow Moscow a no-visa regime, as well as hundreds of conditions set by Brussels. It would be interesting to compare these now to the current attitude to the hundreds of thousands of migrants, who unlike Russians, will stay in Europe forever and take their fair share of all the available social benefits on offer.
No lesson have been learned by Europe it seems. After 9/11, the United States or Israel, which are faced with the threat of terrorist attacks, have created a multi-echelon system of security checks which nearly eliminate the so-called human factor. These two nations are on real alert. Europe, however, is not. It plays with tolerance, it believes in peace, it makes no or few conclusions from the incidents that have rocked it.
Politicians are welcoming "poor refugees," whilst people in small German towns these days walk the streets carrying knives and police fear wearing uniforms in order not to cause "clashes."
The worst thing is that the chain is no stronger than the weakest link. Fake tolerance and the "human factor" lead to acts of new violence — these has always been the tactics of Islamic extremists: to continue the pressure on the weakest and to make them fall, paving the way for a new caliphate.
Europe should make its choice — after all, the window of opportunity is shrinking.
Dmitry Polikanov, political analyst.