Like World War II, the coronavirus pandemic has led to growing disillusionment with the idea of "sacred Europe." Sealing the fate of the rest of the world for the last three centuries, the western European countries suffered yet another defeat during the coronavirus pandemic. They could not cope with the crisis in their own countries, let alone provide assistance and leadership in the resolution of the pandemic on the world stage.
In the course of the 19th century, Western European countries were the hegemons in the international arena, which occupied and colonized the entire world. Yet, since the end of World War II, the world has no longer been Eurocentric. Even after the end of the unipolar world order of the Cold War, the impact of Western Europe remains obscure and ineffectual in the multipolar world order of the post-Cold War era.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, European countries emerged as ineffectual and somewhat irrelevant players in the Syrian crisis. Even when Syrian refugees began to flock over European borders, the member states of the European Union did nothing to resolve the war other than close their borders, leaving thousands of refugees to drown in the Mediterranean. Today, the political influence of the EU on the ongoing Syrian crisis remains insignificant.
A European intellectual explained to me the fall of the European impact in the international arena with reference to two main factors: On one hand, he claimed that the regression of the European powers is a historical development that is directly related to the ongoing process of rapid globalization. On the other hand, he emphasized that the United States intentionally weakened the position of European countries in the international arena.
When Turkey was waging a relentless war against terrorist organizations such as the Daesh and the PKK, an international symposium on terror was organized in Turkey. During the symposium, a European professor made a remarkable presentation on European countries. According to this professor, the greatest problem in Europe was not the impact of terrorist organizations but the lack of qualified statesmen.
In this respect, the coronavirus pandemic emerged as a litmus test, demonstrating countries’ capacity for crisis management. Few countries have succeeded in maintaining their production capacity, while certain political leaders have come to the fore thanks to their effective management of the pandemic at the national level. Just like South Korea, Turkey has successfully coped with the crisis by performing well in both of these respects.
As European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and England failed to manage the coronavirus pandemic, there has emerged a growing disillusionment with the image of "sacred Europe." Since Europe is no longer a significant center of power in the international arena, it is hardly a coincidence that movements based on racism and xenophobia on the rise across the continent.