Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, Cen- tral and Eastern Europe is nolonger at the heart of Americanforeign policy. To some degree, the relationship between theUnited States and the countriesof Central and Eastern Europe-has become a victim of its ownsuccess. U.S. engagement andsupport was essential for thesuccess of our democratic tran-sitions after the Iron Curtain fell.Today, however, there is agrowing sense that Central andEastern Europe is at a politicalcrossroads. The decline of U.S.
inuence is evident and to some
degree it is a logical outcomeof the integration of Centraland Eastern Europe into the EU.Both public opinion and govern-ments in the region display agrowing tendency toward provin-cialism and short-termism. Ab-sent leadership, these countriescould even become an obstacle to future effective U.S.-EU coop-eration on global issues, suchas energy security, security anddefense, and human rights.Today the goal must be to keepCentral and Eastern Europeright as a stable, activist, andAtlanticist part of the broadercommunity. That will requireboth sides recommitting to andinvesting in this relationship.But if we do it right, the payoff down the road can be very real.
wenty years aer the end o the ColdWar, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)is no longer at the heart o Americanoreign policy. As the new Obamaadministration sets its oreign policy pri-orities, this is one part o the world thatAmericans have largely stopped worryingabout. Te successul anchoring and in-tegration o Central and Eastern Europeinto NAO and the EU was one o thegreat oreign policy achievements o lasttwo decades. Many American ocialsappear to have concluded that the regionis “xed” and that they can move on toother, more pressing strategic issues.Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region’stransatlantic orientation, as well as itsstability and prosperity, is eternal. Boththe democratic stability o the region andthe pro-Atlantic orientation o Centraland Eastern European governments have,at times, appeared to be taken or grantedin Washington.o some degree, the relationship betweenthe United States and the countries o ourregion has become a victim o its ownsuccess. Washington played a critical rolein anchoring Central and Eastern Europeto the West. U.S. engagement and supportwas essential or the realization o ourdemocratic transitions aer the Iron Cur-tain ell. Without Washington’s vision andleadership, it is doubtul that the coun-tries in the region would be in NAOand even the EU today. Tat strategy wasbipartisan. Enlargement to our countrieswas started under President Clinton andcompleted under President Bush. Our re-lations were so close Washington thoughtwe would be allies orever.Tat was premature. Indeed, today thereis a growing sense that Central and East-ern Europe is at a political crossroads.U.S. inuence and popularity are also indecline. Despite our eort and contribu-tion, NAO has become weaker since thecountries o Central and Eastern Europe joined it. In many o these countriesit is perceived as less and less relevant.As elsewhere, these countries await theresults o the EU Commission on theorigins o the Russo-Georgian war. Butthe political impact o that war on theregion has already been elt. Many coun-tries were disturbed to see the Atlanticalliance stand by as Russia violated thecore principles o the Helsinki Final Act,the Charter o Paris, and the territorialintegrity o a country that was a membero NAO’s Partnership or Peace and theEuro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Per-haps more than any other part o Europe,the countries o Central and EasternEurope elt threatened by Russia’s moveagainst Georgia.
Why the Obama Administration Should NotTake Central and Eastern Europe for Granted
by Pavol Demes
, Istvan Gyarmati
, Ivan Krastev
, Kadri Liik
, and Alexandr Vondra
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E firstname.lastname@example.org
July 13, 2009
The views expressed here are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reect those of the German Marshall Fund
Pavol Demes is the Director of GMF’s Bratislava ofce and former Foreign Minister and Advisor to the President, Slovak Republic
Prof. Istvan Gyarmati is an Ambassador and President of the International Centre for Democratic Transition in Budapest, Hungary
Ivan Krastev is the Chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies in Soa, Bulgaria
Kadri Liik is the Director of the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia
Prof. Adam Rotfeld, PhD, is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Alexandr Vondra is a Senator, Ambassador, and former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Czech Republic