Between the Eastern Flank and Mitteleuropa

Security and Defence Policies in Central Europe

9 October 2019

Marcin Zaborowski

Senior Fellow

When Central Europe joined the European Union fifteen years ago, there was a a strong Atlanticist inclination, often combined with a sceptical attitude towards the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU. Since the early 2000s, however, attitudes regarding security and defence are both changing and diversifying across the region.

Central Europe is now divided between two sets of states. There are the so-called “eastern flank” nations (Baltic States, Poland and Romania) and what is called here “Mitteleuropa states (Czechia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia), that are connected by a common heritage derived from the Austro-Hungarian empire. Bulgaria, which has no Austro-Hungarian heritage but does not see itself as part of eastern flank, falls in between these two groups.

Read a scenario for Central Europe in which Security vacuum leads to the disintegration of the region.

Given their ex-communist legacies and the history of Soviet domination in most countries of the region, it initially was expected  that the Central European nations would pursue a similar line on security and defence issues. To some extent this was happening at least during the start of the post-communist transitions. All Central European EU member states are also members of NATO; all joined the alliance ahead of joining the EU.

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Marcin Zaborowski

Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow at Visegrad Insight and Editor-in-Chief of Res Publica Nowa. Former director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs and CEPA Warsaw office.

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