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Illiberal and authoritarian tendencies in Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe

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Edited By Florian Bieber, Magdalena Solska and Dane Taleski

Even though the democratic decline has been deemed a global phenomenon, the question of how it manifests itself in the postcommunist world and how it varies across different regions with divergent levels of democratic consolidation has not been sufficiently addressed yet. This book tries to fill the gap and examines the causes and nature of the deteriorating quality of democracy in Central Europe as well as the reversal or stagnation of democratization processes in Southeastern and Eastern Europe. The political elite plays a key role in initiating legislative changes that may lead to democratic backsliding. Its constant commitment to the rule of law and to the practice of selfrestraint in securing the independence of judiciary and the rights of political opposition appears hence indispensable for sustainable liberal democracy.
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Eastern Europe: Regional Overview (Nicolas Hayoz)

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Nicolas Hayoz

Eastern Europe: Regional Overview

Any assessment of the three countries to be analysed in the following chapters must start by considering the role of the main hegemonic autocrat in the region – Russia – and its attempts to control and destabilize its neighbourhood, particularly in Georgia, Ukraine and also Moldova. These countries are still considered as regions in the legitimate sphere of Russian interest. Russia is certainly not interested in democratic developments in its neighborhood. As Mungiu-Pippidi (2015: 99) observed, “Georgia, Moldova, and the Baltic states began to follow their own paths years ago, Ukraine is fighting for its right to do the same, and Azerbaijan has long been living its own life. Russia tried to regroup its flock several times, but still must invade countries to keep them in its orbit.” In all three countries Russia tries to block rapprochement with the EU through conflicts and a more-or-less direct military presence in Eastern Ukraine, in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and in Transdniester in Moldova. All three countries seek closer integration with the European Union, looking out for an “Eastern Partnership Plus” model.1 However, intentions are one thing and geopolitical realities another. Living on the “good side of the border” (Mungiu-Pippidi, 2015: 99) between the geopolitical European Union–Russia border will determine to a large degree the future perspectives of the concerned countries: catching up through European Union-membership to western modernization and democratization or stagnating somewhere...

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