Aspects of Political and Economic Development in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe from 2000-2005
Stephen E. Hanson Foreword 7
7Foreword Redefining Eastern Europe Twenty years ago, the revolutions of 1989 liberated the countries of what North Americans and Western Europeans then called “East- ern Europe.” Since that time, ironically, “Eastern Europe” has largely disappeared from both political and academic discourse. Even be- fore 1989, leading intellectuals in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Slovenia frequently pointed out that geographically, their coun- tries were located at very near the center of Europe, if measured from the Atlantic to the Urals. The movements for Baltic independ- ence from the USSR were inspired by a widespread belief that Esto- nia, Latvia and Lithuania naturally belonged to Scandinavia or the Baltic Sea region, and not to the Russian Empire (by whatever name it might be known); by 1991, leading Baltic politicians rarely re- ferred to their nations as “Eastern European.” And by 2004, nearly all of the countries that were subordinated to Leninist one-party dictatorships after World War II were members of NATO and the European Union – and hence firmly ensconced in “Europe” un- modified. The inevitable rhetorical consequence of the successful promo- tion of the centrality of “Central Europe,” however, was gradually to reduce the status of the label “Eastern Europe” to the point where few national elites still wish to claim it. Those unfortunate countries left on the “wrong” side of the EU/NATO border have increasingly been recategorized in the West as belonging to some- thing called “Eurasia” – a word much beloved by Russian national- ists and geopoliticians, but hardly a favored term...
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