11 February 2011, 14:05

Europe rejects multiculturalism

Europe rejects multiculturalism
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Interview with Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Gromyko. Mr. Gromyko, to what extend did Mr. Cameron’s statement rock the boat in Britain? Mr. Cameron’s statement in Munich on the failure of multiculturalism in the UK certainly caused eyebrows to rise in many quarters.

Interview with Deputy Director of the Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Gromyko.

Mr. Gromyko, to what extend did Mr. Cameron’s statement rock the boat in Britain?

Mr. Cameron’s statement in Munich on the failure of multiculturalism in the UK certainly caused eyebrows to rise in many quarters. The matter is that for many years, including the periods of Conservative rule, the UK has been very proud of its achievements in the sphere of multiculturalism. Cameron seems to have been proceeding from two principal factors. First of all, the Conservative Party tries to limit the role of the British National Party and Independent Party in terms of domestic policy. Secondly, it is true that previous British governments did not pay much attention to what was going on with millions of people who have been entering the UK to settle there over the last 15-20 years. Problems have been piling up as regards multiculturalism. Now, David Cameron came to realize this is the right time to tackle these issues.

What can be the consequences of that statement?

I expect quite a nervous reaction in the UK. Some people will certainly applaud it, but it seems to me that the overall response will be very cautious and critical. Let’s consider which structures will express their concern over what the prime minister said. The conservative partners in the ruling coalition occupy a different and much more liberal position towards immigration. Also, that statement can be quite inflammable as regards the behavior of some ethnic minorities in the UK. This statement will be - if it hasn’t yet been - used by the main opposition force, the Labor Party, to accuse the Conservatives of populism. I am sure that the Labor Party will try to create or to deepen splits in the coalition, pointing out how different positions of the Conservatives and Lib Dems on the issue are.

Is the crisis of multiculturalism, as Mr. Cameron put it, a pan-European tendency?

In fact, the statement is in harmony with the views on multiculturalism of some other leading European politicians. For example, both Nicholas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel have already expressed their skepticism regarding the achievements of and prospects for the traditional approaches to the policy of multiculturalism. So, what Cameron said is in tune with the growing discontent among the European general public and politicians on the immigration issue. At the same time it seems that to play to the tune of the public mood in such a sensitive sphere is quite a risky business. But we see that Cameron decided to take the risk to prove that by doing so this policy of populism maybe attractive for the government in times of trouble.

To find out more on the issue, read or listen to our Red Line program from February 11, 2011 in Radio section.

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