Central Europe and Europe

Jerzy Wiatr: Central Europe as an Issue – Why is Central Europe important for the political science ?
There is already a growing body of comparative studies dealing with various aspects of the similarities and dissimilarities of the way of transition in the postcommunist countries. Western scholars write some of these works, and quite a few are done jointly by political scientists from the postcommunist states and their colleagues from the old Western democracies. Central European postcommunist states differ sharply from the republics of former USSR and from the postcommunist states of South Europe in some main features. First, Central European states departed earlier and in a more decisive way from communism than the Eastern and Southern European states. Second, economic transformation of Central Europe goes on remarkably better than the transformation in the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Third, postcommunist countries differ also in the pattern in which their systems of social stratification changed after the fall of the communist regime. Fourth, in respect to their traditional international orientation, there have been considerable differences between Central, Eastern and Southern European postcommunist states. Three important changes took place in the Central and Eastern European region which affect the regional geostrategic situation. First, NATO granted membership to three Central European states. Second, after Kosovo, it became obvious that Central European states should actively support the Alliance policy to pursue the goals of collective security and defence of human rights. Third, there are now important changes in Russia, and it is uncertain how Russia will interpret her new role in the new Europe. This implies that NATO should not try to isolate Russia and to encourage other CIS states to move away from it. If, however, Russia decides to return to the policy of regional hegemonism, Central Europe should very actively oppose to such policy and defend the interests of the community of democratic states. Our strategic choice depends on what will happen in Russia.

Laurence Whitehead: The Enlargement of the European Union: A ‘Risky’ Form of Democracy Promotion
This paper is focussed on the proposed ‘eastern’ enlargement of the European Union, as a major, but under-theorized component of the Post-Cold War drive for ‘democracy promotion’ in those parts of the world that until recently were not organized into liberal democratic regimes. The integration literature is essentially concerned with explaining and interpreting the processes of policy convergence and institutional restructuring within a given community of nation states. On that assumption it can then examine the creation of policy networks, the lowering of transaction costs, the ‘functionality’ of collective action in particular issue areas, and the possible ‘spillover’ of integration dynamics from one area to another. Most of the debate about inter-governmentalism versus supra-nationalism, and about the ‘europeanisation’ of national politics takes the composition of the community for granted, or at best assumes that any new member will essentially mimic the patterns of adaptation adopted by the core states, without having enough weight to alter the balance of power in the community as a whole. The Helsinki comuniqué stated that democracy promotion was an indispensable component of the EU’s enlargement strategy, but the academic literature on democratization pays scant attention to this aspect of the process. Three key assumptions underlying most analysis of democratic ‘consolidation’ are i) domestic processes are dominant; ii) the nation state is integrated and authoritative; iii) consolidation is about reducing the risks of zero sum confrontation. By contrast, this paper argues that the EU’s strategy of democracy promotion through enlargement puts external processes in command; brings into question the authority of such key national institutions as the parliament; and raises the risk of conflict between those willing to conform to external conditionalities, and those who can – or will – not. The consequences of the Helsinki commitment for the EU’s incipient democratic institutions can be illustrated by reference to the European Parliament.  In 1999 the 15 member states directly elected 626 Members of the European Parliament.  The next election is due in 2004, by which time up to an additional six members may have been admitted.  But the Amsterdam Treaty set an upper limit of 700 on the size of the Parliament.  Consequently, if the first wave of new members were allocated say 120 seats (about the appropriate proportion) it would be necessary to abolish about fifty of the existing constituencies. The most far-reaching of the risks of enlargement is the risk to liberal democratic constitutionalism as a global philosophy. In the post Cold-War era, it is a question a most general and long-term significance arises: whether the prosperous and developed liberal democracies of the West have indeed developed a coherent body of theory and practice capable of abolishing international conflict, legitimizing public authority, and protecting individual freedoms and collective prosperity.  That is what supporters of the EU assert, and it is on that prospectus that so many additional member states are being recruited.

Thomas König and Thomas Brauninger: Governing the Enlarged European Union Accession Scenarios and Institutional Reform
The accession of Eastern and Southern European countries has raised fears regarding the governability of the European Union. Without the institutional reform of the Council’s voting scheme, the joining of five or even twelve countries is considered to threaten proper functioning and the current balance between large and small countries. The applications have shown that enlargement will affect legislative decision making: the Pareto-set will expand due to differnces in the share of the primary sector and GSP per capita, while the latter is primerly responsible for its expansion in employment politics. This study examines whether the two likely waves of accession will increase the danger of gridlock and redistribution in the two prominent policy domains of agricultural and employment politics. Moreover, it presents a feasible solution of reforming the Council’s voting scheme and applies it to both policy domains. The findings show that upcoming enlargement is likely to threaten the governability of the Union. However, we find a realisable solution for reforming the Council’s voting scheme that decreases the gridlock and redistribution danger.

Béla Galló:  The Half-European Integration – Some Global Political Aspects of European Unity from Central European Point of View.
The article is about the influence of world politics on the European unity in the 20th century. Its main thesis is that the history of integration may be divided into four parts from the point of view of global political aspects, and there are three turning points in the process of the European unity. The first part being the the period between the two world Wars, the second period is the bipolar world after Yalta, the third period lasts from the collapse of Yalta world order to Kosovo, and the fourth period is the our present days. The author discusses them one by one and outlines that we have to be aware of the fact that the West European national interest depends on the global process. The current extension of Western European integration towards the East can only be a case of relations between partners of equel standing, at similar levels, with similar influence. If integration is a question a first class and a second class Europe, a union of a rich and a poor Europe, then the destabilizing effects of such a union will effect not only Central and Eastern Europe, but also its western neighbours.

Miroslav Kusy: Hello Europe! The Slovak Gypsies and the European Union
Slovaks traditionally consider themselves Europeans and Slovakia a part of Central Europe, and they proclaim their wish to enter EU. The creation of independent Slovakia in 1993 caused serious doubts about honesty of Mečiar’s administration in keeping the pro-Western orientation. Integration on the level of free migration of individuals, human resources, the freedom of movement was realized in the very beginning. If visa obligations and other barriers are introduced today on the part of EU, the integration process is slowed down and postponed until an uncertain date in the future, it is a very disturbing phenomenon. Our predecessors used to go to Europe „for experience” without passports and visas and they used this universal freedom of movement naturally. When the isolated totalitarian regimes of fascist and communist types where created, they were considered a temporary exemption. After all, Europe gave up under the rules of the Cold War and installed the Iron Curtain, that closed up both worlds from each other. The Cold War divide is being replaced by a Schengen divide. The countries of Eastern Europe have been freed from Cold War constraints, yet have now met with constraints resulting from European integration. The Roma people attempting to emigrate to the West complicate the situation. These were and are absolutely legal attempts, including applications of our Roma people for political asylum. Arguable is the way of reasoning on the part of the immigration offices of relevant Western countries. Under this pressure, the West took the easiest way. And so, us ‘East Europeans’ are learning to queue for visa and wait with anxiety for the decision of the consular officers whether they are going to grant the visa. For instance, only German states granted and they still grant humanitarian help in full range to much larger Roma groups from former Yugoslavia. As far as real illegal immigrants or refugees are concerned, pressure on border states of EU, supported by its new legislation, leads to a moral dilemma: Is it fair to ask relatively poor East European states to offer refuge to asylum seekers entering their territories from the Third World in order to prevent them from seeking refuge in the rich West European states?

György G. Márkus:  Germany a la Carte. Hungarian in Cross Pressure Between German and American Influence
Hungarian attitudes to Germany are analysed in the context of postcommunist cultural politics and the ‘soft power’ role of Germany.. In spite of strong negative stereotypes and deep patriotic feelings, there is a unanimous „second best„ position of Germany within the population. Economic patriotism coexists with the highest ratings of made-in-Germany goods. The paradox finding is, that in hostile political elites, cleaved along contradictory cultural identity perceptions, each significant political and intellectual group in an overarching manner – from poscommunists to anticommunists, from nationalists to cosmopolitans, from neoliberals to social democrats – is attracted by Germany. In important policy areas, German influence is also institutionalised. Most Hungarians seem to accept the prospect of a German Europe with a Europeanised Germany. The case of Hungary supports Katzenstein’s thesis about German influence spontaneously co-ordinating conflicting objectives. The key explanation offered is that the special type of semi-exogenous German modernisation containing rational and non-rational elements appeals both to universalists and particularists. Our findings may, however, prove transitory. There is a younger generation growing up the opinion leaders of which – with a confused collective memory  and under the impact of an ever stronger ‘McWorld’ – turn to ever more Americanised cosmopolitan life-styles and attitudes. The theoretical approach is underpinned by empirical data and observations.