September 2004 - On May 1, 2004, ten countries joined the European Union (EU). On the day of the accession, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary all had Central-Left governments in power. One day later, Leszek Miller, the Polish premier was forced to resign. In June, Czech social democrat Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla followed suit, and in August, the head of the Center-Left government of Hungary, Peter Medgyessy, was also forced to resign. "Too weak," "lacks energy," "cannot communicate effectively"—these were some of the accusations lodged against them. In spite of the fact that all three leaders where very popular at the beginning of their terms, it appeared that the initial success of their materialist-redistributive politics faded quickly. None of these countries was in bad shape economically—on the contrary, they were experiencing economic booms—yet political observers sensed that there was a crisis in the leadership. This situation had clear ties to EU accession. A national consensus supported the European accession almost everywhere: EU membership seemed logical and would clearly serve the common good. So, once the long-held goal of EU accession was achieved, why did these governments collapse? Was it just coincidence that all three were replaced by much younger prime ministers with very different outlooks from their predecessors? The answers to these questions are directly related to the fact that EU enlargement has brought the region to a new stage in its development, and one in which the former communists need to redefine their political roles. Indeed, this stage could be interpreted as the end of postcommunism.
Alexandros Petersen, advisor to the European Energy Security Initiative, discusses the future role of the newly established EU-US Energy Council in an article following the meeting between US Secretaries of State and Energy, Hillary Clinton and Stephen Chu with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger in late November.
Viewed over the past decade, and looking toward the next, a key, defining feature of the geopolitical environment as seen from Greece is the progressive enlargement of the country’s “strategic space.” The relevant geopolitical landscape is now much wider than in the past, a result of Greece’s continued Europeanization, and a product of globalization in its various forms. The country’s strategic outlook is less distinctive and more European in character, and as Europe’s geopolitical horizons have expanded, so have those of Greece.
71. Between a Rock and a Hard Place: How the US-EU Battle over Article 98 Played Out in Croatia and Macedonia
This paper outlines how two Yugoslav successor states, Macedonia and Croatia, faced the dilemma of having to choose between two vital allies. It traces how the issue played itself out in the domestic political arena in the late spring and early summer of 2003, and explains why in the end Croatia rejected US demands in favor of the EU while Macedonia chose to comply with the US. Both the US and the EU are monitoring the postcommunist and post-conflict transitions of the Balkan states closely. All this attention has meant that the Balkans became a particularly crucial battleground for the ICC issue. The decision-making process described in this paper tells a lot about how small post-communist states define their national interests (in terms of politics, economics, and security) and balance external pressures with internal realities in their bids to join Western institutions. Moreover, the outcomes are instructive about the dynamics of US-EU competition and its consequences for the ongoing transition in the region.