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Transcarpathia – Bridgehead or Periphery?

Geopolitical and Economic Aspects and Perspectives of a Ukrainian Region


Peter Jordan and Mladen Klemencic

The multiethnic region of Transcarpathia has after having been a part of Hungary for centuries frequently changed political affiliations and is now a Ukrainian borderland to Central Europe. The Slavonic majority of Ruthenes or Rusyns, by some conceived as a nation distinct from the Ukrainians, the self-conscious minority of Hungarians as well as the historical Hungarian background and a variety of smaller ethnic minorities give this region a strong identity and attribute to it the potential function of a Ukrainian bridgehead towards Central Europe and the European Union. In spite of cross-border trade and a quite active role of the Hungarian group in networking across the border, the region plays so far rather the role of an economically weak Ukrainian periphery. Whether it will be able to escape this situation and profit from EU enlargement will to a larger extent depend on the border regime along the new borders of the EU as well as on the macro-political orientation of the Ukraine: will she decide herself for getting closer to the EU or to Russia?
Contents: Features making Transcarpathia a specific case among Ukrainian regions – Factors shaping its specific identity – Use of economic potentials – Perspectives in economic development – Geopolitical functions – Changes for Transcarpathia after EU enlargement.