Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences

By Marko Lehti; David J.Smith | Go to book overview

Introduction: Other Europes

MARKO LEHTI and DAVID J.SMITH

Small states are the lubricating oil of Europe and the mortar of Europe. The survival and development of small nations is the key issue of the future of Europe. Europe needs small nations as much as we need Europe. Because the strength of the European Union does not lie in its size-the strength of Europe comes from its diversity. Our task here at the coast of the Baltic Sea is to produce and keep this diversity. (Lennart Meri, President of Estonia, 'The Role of Small Nations in the European Union' speech at the University of Turku, Finland, 25 May 2000) 1

'What is Europe?' This was the question posed by the Estonian president, Lennart Meri (who was voted 'European of the Year' in 1998), at the start of a speech reflecting on the profound changes of the past decade. In today's conditions, the essence of 'Europeanness' necessarily remains elusive, for the end of the Cold War has drastically altered the European spatial imagination and called forth a host of questions to be addressed both conceptually and in terms of political practices. What does the removal of the Iron Curtain mean for the 200-year-old division of Europe into East and West? Where do the outer boundaries of today's Europe lie-if, indeed, one can still treat European boundaries in geographical terms at all? What is the role of nations and states in a Europe subject to processes of deepening integration and economic globalization? The aim of this book is to uncover the answers that have been given to these questions in an area that is fast becoming an established feature of the post-Cold War political and mental map, either as the Baltic Sea Area or, more recently, the 'New Northern Europe'.

As Meri implies in his speech, the discussions of recent years have focused primarily on the eradication of Cold War political divisions and the construction of a united Europe. However, following his train of thought further, it is clear that there is and never has been only one

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