Central Europe Activ

Central Europe is one of the small parts of the world where Barack Obama and John McCain enjoyed a same level of support by non-voting non-Americans. This is a very striking contrast with Western Europe, which was the most pro-Obama part of the world.

The former East bloc countries have regarded the United States as liberators after 1989. During their long accession to the Union, they felt the fruits of an even stronger integration into the European economy under an almost constant growth period, and Russia, the great power that had occupied these countries was weak and disintegrated. Now, as the recession stresses the common economic interest’s bonds, and Russia resurgent, it looks that Central Europe feels safer with its distant American ally than with Europe. I think this is a serious strategic problem that may undermine a lot of EU’s success in the past two decades.

I think the two essays published on CEPA show how important American politics is for the region. Michael Williams argues for Barack Obama while Sebastian Auchlich argues for John McCain. Mr Williams cites that “In advocating a greater understanding of Russia, the United States should not cave to Russian demands or aggression the way that Western Europe has abandoned «European values» to satisfy its need for Russian oil and natural gas”. Mr Auchlich stresses that “In John McCain’s view, Central Europe occupies an important place in U.S. security policy. He actively supports the stationing of an anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic […]” and stresses the Central Europe still needs American political and economic assistance, and also American investments. What is common in the two endorsments are the well articulated expectations from Central Europe to a newly elected American president.

I formerly tried to stress the symbolic importance that Central European countries are travelling with vast delegations in the current financial crisis to Washington, because they can hope for little help in EU Summits. I think such Western opinions like the one expressed on Stanley’s fine Blogactiv blog that are completely ignoring Central Europe’s defence priorities will further weaken the cohesion of the European Union.

Some will argue that with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty Europe will talk to the new American president in one voice. In these difficult times of economic recession and Russian resurgence I think that it is a naive hope. Unless the European Union will not find a way to better adjusts the priorities of the Western and the Eastern members, the Central European countries will talk to America on their behalf whatever the would-be European president says.

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  1. I was actually thinking of writing an entry on the same topic. Funny. Anyway, if you look at it from afar, Obama’s priority is not Central and Eastern Europe. With the deep legacy socialism left in here, Eastern Europeans tend to be more rightist, hence less Obama-oriented. Secondly, Central and Eastern Europe has been for previous American administrations a great supporter of all the wars they have fought (which Obama disagreed with) and mostly a military ally (“the military” being a field which Obama doesn’t stress). Last but not least, I was reading the other day an interview with former US Ambassador in Romania Alfred Moses, who was claiming that Obama doesn’t have in his close staff any expert in Central and Eastern Europe – or the Black Sea region (instead, he has several ones in China, Afghanistan and the rest); his assumption is that relations between the US and Romania will not be as close in the future as they are now.

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