After the fall of communism in central and eastern Europe, one compelling argument for bringing the region into the European Union was that the experience of prosperity, democracy and everyday multinational co-operation would ease national and ethnic tensions there. Who knew, perhaps eventually it would get rid of them altogether, just as France and Germany were gradually reconciled after the second world war?
A flare-up of tensions last month between Slovakia and Hungary will serve as proof, to those western Europeans who were always hostile to enlargement, that such hopes were premature. Worse still, it will confirm them in their opinion that, by admitting the two countries in 2004, all the EU succeeded in doing was to trap a nasty virus inside its own borders. Read more