With the collapse of state socialism in 1989, the formerly communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe (hereafter CEE) had no choice but to shake off their deeply ingrained Cold War mentality and try to take their place in a world characterized by globalization and increased regional integration. Their “return to Europe,” or integration into the structures of the European Community/European Union (EC/EU), passed an important milestone in 1993, when the EU made the historic decision to enlarge eastwards and accept new members from the formerly communist countries. Accession negotiations opened in spring 1998 for "fast-track" countries (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Estonia), and in February 2000 for "slow-track" countries (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania). This paper focuses on the CEE countries’ “accession perspective”—their motives, expectations, deliberations, and practical difficulties as they strive to become part of the EU’s anticipated eastward enlargement.
March 2000 - The current trans-Atlantic/European partnership is characterized by some remarkable structural tensions. The overlap between membership in the European Union and NATO is limited to only 11 countries. The European Union (EU) has four members - Austria, Finland, Ireland, Sweden - which, though not officially part of the Alliance, are beneficiaries of NATO's protection. This is a classical free rider situation. It is quite remarkable that one of the four free riders, Austria, is the first EU-member country with a government party holding fifty percent of the decision-making power, whose policies openly denounce the very idea of 'eastern enlargement' on the basis of an argument that posits the essential inferiority of all applicants. That list of "inferior applicants" includes Hungary - an economy in which Austrian capital has been the fourth largest investor since the collapse of socialism.
October 2002- Contemporary war economies in places such as the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and West Africa tend to be clandestine economies, utilizing criminal actors as combatants and smuggling networks and black marketeering for financing and supplies. The importance of clandestine flows and criminal actors becomes even more apparent in the context of evading international economic sanctions and arms embargoes. Consequently, the business of war and the business of crime closely intersect—producing a form of criminalized conflict. In the case of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, for example, understanding the role of criminal actors and clandestine flows is crucial in explaining the war's outbreak, persistence, termination, and aftermath. Calling this war a criminalized conflict does not take politics out and simply reduce all aspects of the conflict to criminality and economic motives. It does, however, stress the analytical insights that can be gained from a more sharply-focused exploration of the intersection between smuggling practices, criminal actors, and warfare. It also has important implications for understanding the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction.
The Global Europe Program is now accepting applications for the summer research grant competition. This stipend is available to American academic experts and practitioners, including advanced graduate students, engaged in specialized research requiring access to Washington, DC and its research institutions. The grant is for a period of two months, and includes residence at the Wilson Center. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, in order to be considered eligible for this grant opportunity. The deadline for applying is March 1, 2014.
November 2007 - The Wilson Center's East European Studies program, in cooperation with the American College of Thessaloniki, the University division of Anatolia College, held a workshop November 30-December 1, 2007, which aimed at trouble-shooting the complex process of European integration of the Western Balkans. This meeting was sponsored by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Discussions built upon the dual premise that EU accession holds the best hope for overcoming stagnation in the Western Balkans and that the traditional enlargement process is not working in the region. The US, the EU and neighboring countries, such as Greece, certainly have much to contribute in reinvigorating this process, and coordinating their policies seems to be of paramount importance.