Between the Eastern Flank and Mitteleuropa

Security and Defence Policies in Central Europe

9 October 2019

Marcin Zaborowski

Visegrad Insight 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

Visegrad Insight Senior Fellow

is Policy Director at Future of Security Programme at GLOBSEC and an Associate Senior Fellow at Visegrad Insight. In the past Marcin served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) and Vice-President at the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Prior to that Marcin worked as Senior Research Fellow at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris. Marcin is a co-author of The New Atlanticist: Poland’s Foreign and Security Policy Priorities and the author of Germany, Poland, and Europe: Conflict, Cooperation and Europeanization.

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