The New Europe: Revolution in East-West Relations

The New Europe: Revolution in East-West Relations

The New Europe: Revolution in East-West Relations

The New Europe: Revolution in East-West Relations

Excerpt

The Academy originally proposed this volume in response to the historic changes contemplated by the countries of Western Europe. Since then the volume — much like Europe itself — had to be continually reappraised as virtually every day brought new surprises with profound consequences. Even as this preface is being written, Margaret Thatcher — the one constant factor in European politics since 1979—has been forced to resign as prime minister of Great Britain.

With Europe undergoing such change, today's astute analysis is often outdated tomorrow. Thus, for the contributors to this volume, writing about a changing Europe has truly been a Sisyphean task. No matter how frequently they rethought and revised their manuscripts, events in Europe outpaced them. It was therefore with courage that they reduced a moving picture to a snapshot in an attempt to describe some of the recent events and lend historical and political perspective to emerging realities that constitute the new Europe.

The "new Europe" suggests that established orders and their protective institutions have crumbled and that formation is taking place. People create institutions, but these institutions generally shape the quality and direction of human experience. Europe, both east and west of what was the Berlin Wall, is engaged in an effort to create a new set of institutions that will consequently establish a new order. It is this process of change that serves as the subject of this volume.

Although the title The New Europe represents the currents of change sweeping over Europe, it might be more accurate to speak of the new Europes. While nothing remains of the Berlin Wall except memories, and Germany is once again a united country, the two halves of Europe are still divided and headed in virtually opposite directions.

In Western Europe, the trend is toward integration and consolidation, quite possibly the most significant ceding of power from sovereign states to central authority since the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787. It is primarily a tribute to the West's political stability and the strength of the desire for economic expansion that these nations have decided to overcome their nationalistic differences and move toward an economic and political union more reminiscent of confederated states than sovereign nations.

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