Rebuilding Central Europe’s Lost Relevance in European Integration

From Post-Communist Legacy to Democracy and Atlantic Partnership

13 May 2021

Radu Albu-Comănescu

Visegrad Insight Fellow

An image of disappointment prevails when assessing today the path taken by the societies and governments of Central Europe after EU accession.

  • If we want to be relevant in the European equation as well as a valued player in the concert of democracies, Central and Eastern Europe has to become more compatible with what defines middle powers to their best: laws, norms and behaviour, not only position and geography.
  • The Conference on the Future of Europe would be a recommendable place to start rethinking and rebuilding our societies and finish the unfinished 1989-revolution.

Central Europe is confronted with subversive Russian military aggression, instability in the Middle East and the high appetites of China’s financial empire. To external vulnerability, we may even add deep-state corruption, institutional rigging and restrictions of individual rights by law or the constitution.

The contrast with the bright hopes of the post-communist 1990s could not be starker. But now that the United States of America has returned as a willing coagulator of the world’s democracies will our societies react by more tenacious civic engagement, reassessing liberalism and giving Central Europe credibility as a democratic partner?

A parable for the prologue

To understand Central Europe’s contemporary predicament, let us consider a Renaissance-inspired parable as a prologue to the story. The impressive walls of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence were looking ghastly, and it was Leonardo Da Vinci’s fault. The frustration was proportional. Him, of all people, with a contract approved by Niccolò Machiavelli, the Republic’s much-esteemed official. Not only the fresco of the Battle of Anghiari – meant to opulently decorate the Hall of the Five Hundred – was left incomplete, but it started to degrade.

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Radu Albu-Comănescu

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow. Lecturer in European Integration at the “Babeş-Bolyai” University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. His research focuses on European construction, state-building, international relations and cultural diplomacy.

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