Great power rivalries have existed for millennia. The Cold War is the tensest on European terrain after the end of the Second World War. Whereas the two victorious powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, had initially fought as allies against National Socialist Germany, they perceived themselves as being threatened by each other. Growing antagonism and completely contrary world views led to a cold war that lasted for more than forty years and deeply divided East and West.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the reunification of Germany, the geopolitical map of the continent changed massively. Altogether, twenty-two successor states arose only out of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Many of these Central and Eastern European states sought integration into established Western security and defence alliances immediately after gaining their sovereignty. As part of the EU's eastern enlargement, Slovenia became the first successor state of Yugoslavia to join the European community of states in 2001. The Baltic states followed, as three successor states of the Soviet Union.
Geographically, the Central and Eastern European states lie at the intersection of overlapping, even competing, zones of influence. The region is positioned in the centre of the intensifying antagonism between NATO and Russia. In addition, external forces are increasingly entering the scene in the eastern part of the EU and non-EU member states in the region in an attempt to expand their influence in the area. While great power rivalry is again shaping international relations the dominance of the US led “West” appears to be eroding. The world´s economic centre is shifting rapidly to the Asia-Pacific region.
More than thirty years after the Cold War, many Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, while firmly politically and economically integrated in the EU and the “West” - look eastwards for new economic possibilities and to strengthen national sovereignty. What geopolitical role can Central and Eastern Europe play in today´s world? Can it (does it want to) become a bridge between Europe and Asia?
This event is part of the series of celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Andrássy University of Budapest.