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2023 | Book

Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe

Contemporary Challenges

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About this book

This book analyzes major contemporary political and security problems in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Presenting case studies on various CEE countries, it highlights the persistence of non-democratic political trends in the region, with particular emphasis on authoritarianism in Belarus and the illiberal shift in the politics of Hungary and Poland. Also, the book examines the growing geopolitical and military rivalry between the West and Russia in the CEE region, which led to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. After addressing the increasing involvement of external entities such as NATO, the EU, the USA, Germany, France, and China, it highlights serious internal and external challenges to the democratic institutions and international security of CEE that call for new formats of multilateral cooperation to be established by the region’s countries.

This book is intended for scholars and students of European politics, international relations and security studies, and for anyone interested in the political and security challenges facing the CEE region.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter
Introduction
Abstract
In the introductory chapter, the editor explains why it is worthwhile to study politics and security issues of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The main contemporary challenge of this region is a destabilization arose as a result of the clash of the influence of the West and Russia. The West is implementing the policy of supporting democracy, European integration and strengthening of the security, expected by the peoples and societies of the region, while Russia sees this as a threat to its security and is taking increasingly decisive countermeasures. Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic orientation, which led to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2022, remains a particular bone of contention. There are also other serious challenges in the CEE region, such as the shift away from democracy by Hungary and Poland, the evolution of the Belarusian regime toward a neo-totalitarian one, the danger of a breakdown in peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and threats to energy security. The monograph also presents attempts to institutionalize cooperation between the CEE countries and the policy of external powers toward the region, i.e., the USA, Germany, France and China. The book is written using several theoretical approaches, with a prevailing neorealist perspective.
Ryszard Zięba
Peripherality of the CEE Region
Abstract
Pawłuszko offers a summary of the center-periphery perspective on the relationship between the Western European center and the Central and Eastern European peripheries. Focusing on economic history and politics, the chapter draws attention to the crucial intervention of the integration processes in the history of CEE region and uses a broad perspective to facilitate a better understanding of its roots. As well as looking at the ways in which the history was constructed, Pawłuszko explores the theoretical implications of current state in intra-European relations in the field of security studies. “Peripherality of the CEE region” concludes with a study of current geoeconomic position of the Central and Eastern European countries.
Tomasz Pawłuszko
From Authoritarianism to Neo-Totalitarianism in Belarus
Abstract
The political system in Belarus is still in the process of non-democratic transformation. This evolution was launched by the political crisis that had emerged in 2020 due to the presidential campaign. It became evident that previous methods of authoritarian governing using elements of facade democracy were not effective anymore for keeping and legitimating power. Political crisis in Belarus and authority reaction led to reestablishing functions of the political institutions, dismantling pro-democratic activities, introducing political terror as one of the main instruments of the political rule. As a result, a new type of political regime has formed. Its stabilisation is still going on; new political and institutional components are introduced and fixed in the new constitution. Political, structural and functional changes of the Belarusian regime allowed us to speak about it as neo-totalitarian. This chapter deals with studying the main institutional changes in Belarus, which lead Belarusian society and the state from the neo-authoritarian political conditions to the neo-totalitarian.
Pavel Usov
Illiberal Turn in Hungary
Abstract
Political transformation reached the entire post-socialist bloc. The year of 1989, the ‘annus mirabilis’ helped to step onto the path of change. Hungary, such as the formal socialist bloc states quickly adopted Western values. Institutional frames, new political power verified and at the beginning of the twenty-first century had the chance to return its Western roots to radically changed and much more favourable conditions than it ever had before. However, since the early 2000s, Hungary had to face a chain of crises. The aim of the chapter is to analyse the nature of the illiberal turn, its embeddedness in historical roots, its effect on political culture and to find the answer to why this system enjoys wide support from the Hungarian society, how it is verified within the reelection of the governing coalition. We would also like to focus on the problem of (mal)functioning of democratic institutions, and the tension between Hungary and the EU, the Hungarian answers to the multiply crises, and to investigate whether the Hungarian illiberal turn is unique or can be recognised in a wider scope.
Andrea Schmidt
Illiberalism and Nationalism in Poland’s Politics
Abstract
After Poland joined the European Union, strong conservatism, nationalism, populism, and authoritarianism arose in Poland and pushed the country onto the illiberal path. This political course is represented primarily by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, which governed the country in 2005–2007 and has been in power since 2015. The roots of Polish illiberalism are both domestic and foreign. The main manifestations of the illiberal and nationalist turn in Poland’s politics are as follows: the elimination of the separation of powers and violation of the rule of law, including violation of the independence of the judiciary; restriction of the right to assembly and repression of demonstrators; attack on the free media; control of schooling and higher education; centralization of governance, and taking away competences from local government; tightening the ban on abortion; inhumane treatment of immigrants from the Middle East; corruption and nepotism on an unprecedented scale; public surveillance and repression of people who criticize the authorities. These activities of the Polish authorities have consequences to foreign policy and international role of Poland, such as: a Euro-skepticism manifested in an anti-Brussels stance and in disputes with EU institutions, Germany, and France; close collaboration with illiberal Hungary, and with other illiberal movements abroad; nationalist and great-power approach with regard to Russia; the bi-lateralization and militarization of security policy. The consequences of this Poland’s policy are detrimental to itself and to the international environment.
Ryszard Zięba
EU and NATO Eastern Policy
Abstract
After the Cold War, western states focused their activities on promoting democracy in the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. These activities are based on the liberal assumption that ensuring democracy, respecting human rights, and building a market economy will create a zone of peace and prosperity. The US addressed its policy of exporting democracy to the CEE region, what in practice manifested itself as supporting pro-Western forces and organizing peaceful ‘regime change.’ The EU has undertaken a policy of partnership with CEE countries and admitting the countries most advanced in democratic and market reforms. On the other hand, NATO pursues an ‘open door’ policy and militarily strengthens its eastern flank. All this eastern policy of the West faces opposition from Russia, which does not recognize the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of states in its neighborhood, as it claims that they are a manifestation of the expansion of the USA and the West at the expense of its legitimate security interests. Russia is particularly opposed to Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO. The CEE region has become a zone of competition for influence between the West and Russia, and this has led to Russia’s policy of aggression toward Ukraine.
Ryszard Zięba
Ukraine’s Attempts to Join the West
Abstract
For over 30 years of Ukraine’s independence, the ‘course to the West’ in foreign and security policy has experienced several changes, moving from ‘virtual Europeanization’ through ‘multi-vector’ policy to inscribing full membership in the EU and NATO in the Ukrainian Constitution. Such lack of consistency in the policy of affiliation with the West is a consequence of both internal and international factors. The obstacles on Ukraine’s way to the West are both resistance within the country itself and processes in the international arena, especially between the West and Russia, which currently resulted in the war that began on February 24, 2022. Despite this, Ukraine’s attempts to move closer to the West are slowly bearing fruit. In this chapter, the author aims to analyze external and internal determinants of Ukraine’s foreign policy toward the widely understood West, applying the perspective of neoclassical realism.
Marharyta Blyzniuk
Russia’s Challenge to Central and Eastern Europe
Abstract
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shown that what has been viewed as Central and Eastern European countries’ Russophobia is in fact their sensitivity to the challenge or/and threat that Russia poses to its neighbors. The West, which until February 2022 has defined Russia as a partner or at best a problematic neighbor, has been repeatedly receiving signals that the Kremlin does not accept violations of its sphere of influence, the former USSR. Each time, they were ignored or downplayed. Author explains the background of Russia’s revisionist turn, which she claims is the key. Following the neorealist paradigm, she presents the factors that have led Russia to alter the post-Cold War order, challenge the West, and demand recognition of the post-Soviet area as its zone of exclusive interests.
Agnieszka Bryc
Militarization of Security Policies in Central and Eastern Europe
Abstract
Pawłuszko explains the process of militarization of security policies in the CEE region since the Crimea Crisis. According to the Copenhagen School, he focuses on reconstruction of the Central-Eastern European Security Complex and draws attention to the changes in military policies of states in the region. Pawłuszko explores theoretical implications, as well as practical consequences of the NATO-Russia rivalry on the “eastern flank” of Europe. The chapter concludes with a study of perspectives on geopolitical agenda of the CEE region.
Tomasz Pawłuszko
A Fragile Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Abstract
This chapter draws attention to political situation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as post-conflict state. Tensions continue to exist in Bosnian society and institutions, including the armed forces. The state’s consolidation following the Dayton peace agreements and the effective peacebuilding process run into obstacles. This is expressed in the separatist tendencies that are still present. Activity at the local and regional levels, cooperation with international organizations (NATO, EU), neighboring states, bilateral relations with other states are crucial. This chapter examines the content, determinants and evolutions of international and Bosnian institutions in peacebuilding process. However, the effects of weak statehood and civil war led to threats (e.g., political instability, terrorism, organized crime).
Marlena Drygiel-Bielińska
Energy Security of Central and Eastern European Countries
Abstract
The main purpose of the text is to present a selection of energy security problems affecting Central and Eastern European countries, including a selective comparative analysis in relation to Western European countries. In the first place, a comparative analysis is applied to some general issues concerned with energy security, so that in the end included is a special dimension of energy security, i.e. gas security understood as gas supply security. The comparative analysis covers three dimensions of energy security: (1) socio-economic, (2) innovative and technological and (3) geopolitical (and geoeconomic). Besides, the analysis performed makes use of, as a background and inspiration, theoretical aspects of historical materialism, structural approaches as part of the dependency paradigms of research into international political and economic relations, as well as the presuppositions of the research programme concerning energy security by Cherp and Jewell.
Remigiusz Rosicki
Visegrad Group–Real Entity or Mirage
Abstract
The Visegrad Group celebrated its 30th anniversary in February 2021. Since its establishment, this cooperation experienced booms and crises in the past three decades. After the regime change, the countries of the region had the opportunity to establish a sub-regional cooperation that was not directed against anyone, the main goal of which was then primarily Euro-Atlantic integration, i.e. accession to NATO and the European Community. The mission of this group changed several times in the past decades. After the Euro-Atlantic integration this group served as a litmus paper showing the troubles and challenges within the European Union. This chapter analyses whether the V4 is a real entity, or a geopolitical marriage of necessity, a model for further integrations and if this group can find its new position within the changing global order.
Andrea Schmidt
Three Seas Initiative
Abstract
Central European integration is a recurring theme in Polish foreign and security policy. The most recent manifestation of it is the Three Seas Initiative, which Poland has been applying for since 2015. This initiative draws on previous attempts to organize cooperation between the countries located between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas (Intermarium), under the leadership of Poland, and is an expression of Poland’s desire to become the power it once had in its distant history. In practice, the TSI is limited to cooperation in building of the infrastructure of 12 countries located on the eastern periphery of the European Union. The author discusses the origins, essence, and program of the TSI, and its expected international functions, as well as obstacles in its functioning and development.
Ryszard Zięba
Central and Eastern Europe in U.S. Foreign Policy
Abstract
U.S. interest and involvement in Central and Eastern European countries have gone through various phases, from an intensification, when the spread of democracy in countries of the former USSR became a priority of American foreign policy, through a period of decidedly weakened engagement of the United States in this region and focus on other areas, to a phase of renewed attention by American policymakers to the domestic affairs of European countries, on the one hand because of the democratic crisis and the ongoing process of democratic backsliding in many countries, and on the other hand with Russia’s increasingly aggressive actions against Ukraine, culminating in the military attack launched on February 24, 2022. The author analyzes how the US foreign policy toward this region has changed over the past two-plus decades, both in the conceptual sphere and in the actual foreign assistance activities undertaken.
Ewelina Waśko-Owsiejczuk
Central and Eastern Europe in Germany’s Foreign Policy
Abstract
The growing crises and threats at the end of the first quarter of the twenty-first century—especially those instigated by the Russia’s aggressive foreign policy, the diversification of energy supplies, the adherence to democratic standards and the decisions on the enlargement of the European Union—have entailed a prompt redefinition of German policy, whose long-lasting symbol of stability was Chancellor Angela Merkel. For several years, Germany was guided by the assumption that by supporting reforms and Europeanisation, backed by the USA within the framework of the transatlantic security community, it would foster stability across Central and Eastern Europe. The goal of the chapter is to discuss the continuity and change of Germany’s position towards the main challenges that Central and Eastern Europe has been faced with. The authors look at the place of Central and Eastern Europe within the key tenets of German foreign policy, as well as at the practice of the country’s foreign policy towards this region.
Aleksandra Kruk, Beata Molo
Central and Eastern Europe in France’s Foreign Policy
Abstract
This paper investigates how France’s foreign policy is practised towards Central and Eastern Europe region and analysis French political visions of relations with the region, their determinants and consequences for Europe. Central and Eastern Europe is not the main axis of the European policy of the French Republic. The difficulties that France had with adapting its policy towards the region after the end of the Cold War have had consequences in a broader context to this day (for the development of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union, cooperation with Germany and relations with the United States and Russia). This chapter uncovers motivations, changes and regional institutions that drive French foreign policy in Central and Eastern Europe.
Marlena Drygiel-Bielińska
Central and Eastern Europe in China’s Foreign Policy
Abstract
Vörös discusses China’s engagement in Central and Eastern Europe, which presents both opportunities and challenges for the region—and generates fear as well within the European Union. The chapter discusses the role and most importantly the reality of the 16 + 1 scheme and the region’s significance in the Belt and Road Initiative, with an emphasis on economic relations and infrastructure interests. While Vörös introduces the relationship, deals with the regional hopes and the European fears, he debunks myths and explains why local politicians and the media frequently exaggerated China’s presence. The chapter concludes with lessons for CEE countries and the EU, as well as a possible future for Chinese activity.
Zoltán Vörös
Metadata
Title
Politics and Security of Central and Eastern Europe
Editor
Ryszard Zięba
Copyright Year
2023
Electronic ISBN
978-3-031-16419-4
Print ISBN
978-3-031-16418-7
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-16419-4

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