Eastern discoveries: The old East and the invention of Europe's new East

Thursday, June 27, 2013
2.13 (Binnengasthuis)
Carlos Reijnen , Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam
Throughout the 1990s Eastern Europe has been crucial in Europe’s attempt at reinventing itself, both in terms of EU policies and of identities. The process of exchange that started after 1989 has, among others, produced a strong focus on democratisation, human rights and transition. In this process the East was redefined as well and redevised in an ‘old East’ that succeeded to enter Europe’s gates and, consequently, in a ‘new East’.

After initial reticence and modesty leading East European countries (Poland, Czech Republic) now develop a strong focus on the region that they at first tried to escape from. Very gradually the old East (or ‘the new Europe’: the EU accession states of 2004/2007) is becoming the strongest promoter of Ukraine and Belarus, or in some cases, even of the Caucasus in the European Union. The focus on the East is not limited to expanding markets or security, but also touches upon on the promotion of East European memories (Stalinism, communism).

This paper focuses on Polish and Czech initiatives to include and promote a new East European agenda within the European Union. It draws from political and intellectual debates, and, where relevant, from policy documents.