Why the Obama Administration Should Not Take Central and Eastern Europe for Granted
Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, Central and Eastern Europe is no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. To some degree, the relationship between the United States and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe has become a victim of its own success. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell. Today, however, there is a growing sense that Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads. The decline of U.S. influence is evident and to some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Both public opinion and governments in the region display a growing tendency toward provincialism and short-termism. Absent leadership, these countries could even become an obstacle to future effective U.S.-EU cooperation on global issues, such as energy security, security and defense, and human rights. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of the broader community. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the payoff down the road can be very real.
The authors of this policy brief are: Pavol Demes, Director of GMF's Bratislava office and former Foreign Minister and Advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic; Prof. Istvan Gyarmati, Ambassador and President of the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Budapest, Hungary; Ivan Krastev, Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria; Kadri Liik, Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia; Prof. Adam Rotfeld, PhD, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland; and Alexandr Vondra, Senator, Ambassador, and former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Czech Republic