Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe

By Lincoln Gordon; J. F. Brown et al. | Go to book overview
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The Views from Vienna and Rome


IN TRADITIONAL DIPLOMACY the major West European powers, notably the Federal Republic of Germany, have had the most impact on Eastern Europe. But it would be unwise to ignore the impact, especially on East European societies, of some West European states or institutions that may have less power but still remain influential psychologically, culturally, and spiritually. In this context two European capitals, Vienna and Rome, exert unmistakable influence in certain parts of Eastern Europe.


As the former capital of an empire that included all or parts of what are now Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland, and Yugoslavia, and as the contemporary capital of a neutral, independent, democratic, and successful Austria, Vienna has closely intertwined functions that give it a peculiarly important role in Eastern Europe. There is little need to dwell on Austria's historical relevance or its geographical proximity to Eastern Europe. While the various nationalities over which the Habsburg monarchy so uneasily ruled and the nationalistic feelings they spawned were the basic cause of the eventual downfall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, some links forged during that time were not easily broken. And now that most parts of the


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