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Category: Articles and Commentary

Sovietisation and post-Soviet development in the Intermarium

Careful observation of Central and Eastern European history points to the fact that the two decades between the end of the First World War and the Munich Conference were critical for nation-state formation in that region due to the collapse of the two imperial hegemons – the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Tsarist Russia. In 1938 Germany and the Soviet Union, however, began to polarise the region once again. The state formation experience was, nevertheless, extremely valuable. This became apparent during the second 20-year (1989-2009) period of great “thawing,” after the USRR weakened and ultimately collapsed.

July 6, 2017 - Michał Kuź

Why great national ideas end up on the backstage of regional politics

In the post-Versailles era, Polish leader Józef Piłsudski proposed to the authorities of Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus to forge an Intermarium union for the survival of their states. Piłsudski risked and pushed forward an intellectual speculation on how to strengthen subjectivity and sovereignty of the “young” states in games between major powers. From the perspective of time, this speculation can hardly be defined as a real-life success.

July 6, 2017 - Ostap Kushnir

Trimarium is not Intermarium

With US President Donald Trump’s visit in Poland, the brand of the Three Seas Initiative gained international reputation. In Poland where the roots of the initiative began, the Three Seas or – as one can Latinise it, Trimarium – initiative is often confused with the historical project of Intermarium, intuitively understood by many. Not only journalists but also politicians and even public officials contribute to the confusion. Well, they are wrong.

July 6, 2017 - Dariusz Góra-Szopiński

How to embed Ukraine? The idea of an Intermarium coalition in East-Central Europe

Neither the European Union nor NATO will any time soon be able to fill the security vacuum they have left with their hesitant policies in the grey zones of Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus. Both organisations have, in the past, amply demonstrated their inadequacy as strategically thinking and geopolitically resolute actors. Against this background, some post-Soviet politicians, diplomats and intellectuals are starting to discuss alternative options to, at least partially, increase their countries’ security. The most prominent among these concepts is the creation of a so-called “Intermarium coalition”.

July 6, 2017 - Kostiantyn Fedorenko and Andreas Umland

Warsaw debates Intermarium

It was appropriate enough that Warsaw should host a conference on the theme of Intermarium, the idea being primarily of Polish origin and promoted heavily by Polish interwar leader Józef Piłsudski, who believed that rebuilding Polish independence was not the sole action of one country and that is was in the interests of a chain of independent states to pool their aspirations. His fears for the nations standing alone, sandwiched between Germany and Russia were, as it turned out, entirely justified – in the area which became Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands. If Intermarium for the 20th century was a Poland-centred concept, Intermarium for the 21st century would be a Ukraine-focused enterprise. For Ukraine now, as for Poland then, this is a question of the country’s survival as a state. As keynote speaker Andreas Umland of the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Co-operation in Kyiv elaborated, Ukraine is also uniquely significant in the Baltic-Black Sea region as events there have an effect beyond the non-EU/NATO, the so-called “grey zone”. The difficulty at present of evaluating the concept is that the Intermarium, at this stage, is no more than an idea.

July 6, 2017 - Jonathan Hibberd

Intermarium in the 21st century

On July 6-7 2017, Lazarski Unviersity in Warsaw organised and hosted a conference titled: “Intermarium in the 21st Century: Visions, Architectures and Feasibilities”. This international gathering brought together Central and Eastern European scholars to examine the diversity of interpretations of the Intermarium concept and assess chances for its various configurations to come into being. The conference focused on the nature of Intermarium as well as debated the feasibility of its geographic, political, economic, cultural and security dimensions.

July 5, 2017 - New Eastern Europe

Kraków’s smog trauma

Every year in winter time Kraków changes beyond recognition. The air is heavy and thick, breathing becomes hard and doctors get used to longer queues in hospital corridors. Many people on the streets wear anti-smog masks and their outdoor activities become limited. All thanks to pollution, which prevents people from  doing sports and enjoying time outside. The effects are felt by everyone.

July 5, 2017 - Monika Michulec and Agnieszka Pelczar

Can the Eastern Partnership bridge the divide?

For the six countries of the Eastern Partnership, or EaP, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union meant that independence was as much an urgent crisis as it was an overnight opportunity.  Burdened by the seven decades of Soviet rule, the challenges of independence proved daunting as each of these states was unprepared for statehood and under-equipped for democratic governance. Although the starting point of independent statehood was roughly equivalent, their shared Soviet legacy was quickly replaced by a diverging trajectory with a pronounced variance in their political, economic and security reforms. Of these six states, four were constrained by a conflict from the very start, as Armenia and Azerbaijan were consumed by Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia was collapsing under the weight of a civil war and separatism, while Moldova was confronting the Transnistrian conflict. For the other two states, despite the absence of outright conflict in the early period of statehood, both Belarus and Ukraine were constrained by corrupt and authoritarian regimes.

July 4, 2017 - Richard Giragosian

Informing without information: Russia in the age of Twitter

In order to understand the wide-reaching implications of post-truth, one should first look at its sources. Alternative facts and post-truth have been used by governments, such as that of Russia, in the strategic shaping of national identity. In the initial hours and days after unexpected events, elite-level individuals play a decisive role in framing the mainstream interpretations despite the utter lack of concrete information. Even after further information comes out, the wider public will perceive it in the context of previously constructed narratives. In terms of social media, Twitter acts as ground zero for shaping interpretations due to its immediacy and the limited size of its posts.

July 3, 2017 - George Spencer Terry and Volha Damarad

Ukraine’s choice: Nationalism vs. European values

The domineering of the far right in Ukraine, facilitated by the oligarchic mechanisms of power, has become a fact. It is not just a myth spread by Russian propaganda, although it is often exploited and aggrandised. The 2014 Revolution of Dignity and its aftermath was a turning point in Ukrainian history which marked an ideological split within the society into two camps, ultimately offering different paths for Ukraine’s national development.

June 29, 2017 - Evgenia Bilchenko

The black island of the Arctic

This piece originally appeared in Issue 1/2017 of New Eastern Europe. Subscribe now.

June 28, 2017 - Daniel Wańczyk

Estonia combats hacking with world’s first data embassy

On June 20th, the prime ministers of Luxembourg and Estonia signed agreement establishing the world’s first data embassy — a secure building where Estonia will store its critical government and institutional data outside of its own borders.

June 27, 2017 - Aliide Naylor

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