Twenty-five years after the fall of Communism in Europe, it seems that new political divides are separating East from West. Former Communist countries that, in the 1990s and early 2000s, wanted nothing more than to become European Member States, are now increasingly looking Eastwards. The Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary have all been uneasy about worsening relations with Russia, and have been reluctant to impose sanctions over events in Ukraine.
Public discourse is also changing. Last summer, Hungary’s President Viktor Orbán announced that ‘liberal constitutionalism’ was not working for Hungary. Moving away from the European model, he announced Hungary would look to Russia and other countries for examples of well-functioning “illiberal” states. Meanwhile, the existence of Putin’s Economic Eurasian Union became a fact on 1 January this year. Currently consisting of only four countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia), Russia has also approached Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia with an invitation to join in the near future.
This series of debates will ask if a new “Iron Curtain” is descending on Europe. Has the EU failed to offer a sufficiently attractive model for former Communist countries to follow? Have they faced too many difficulties during their transformations to liberal democracies? Or has Russia’s political and economic influence in the region become too strong a competitor for the West?
We will be looking at eight former Communist countries (Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia). In every debate we will discuss one issue that is particular for that member state. So share your views with us and join the debate!
Image credit: CC Flickr / Matthias Werner