Let’s Stop Wasting Time Redefining our Place in Europe

.

This week’s Emerging Europe Diplomats’ Meeting  was the first in a series of events addressed at diplomats residing in London. It re-raised the dilemma of how to refer to that region, which comprises 23 countries, with some of them belonging to the European Union, some believing membership will come soon and still others having chosen the Eurasian Economic Union. Are they New Europe, New Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe or maybe emerging Europe? Is it something else again?

Back in the ‘good old’ Cold War days, defining Eastern Europe was easy, it was made up of all those losers who were on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. Eastern Europe had those ‘backwards’ communist countries, which were frozen in the Stone Age,” Francis Tapon writes in his book The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us.

He adds, “because the world had such a low opinion of Eastern Europe then, nowadays nobody wants to admit that they live there. (…) I’ve met Estonians who assert that they are in Northern Europe, Latvians who proclaim that they are in Central Europe, and Lithuanians who argue that they are in Western Europe. If you were to believe everyone you talked to, you would conclude that Eastern Europe just doesn’t exist!

But the same happens when one goes to other countries in the region — no one wants to be part of Eastern Europe.

The same is true of the term “emerging Europe” despite its being the most-widely used expression to delineate the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. I don’t think anyone would dare to say these countries haven’t made great progress on a number of fronts: market economy, political stability, ease of doing business, etc.

On the contrary, most of these countries can rightly say that they are no longer emerging markets. Slovenia and the Czech Republic, for example, have been referred to as developed economies for some time now and have a GDP per capita that is higher than in some of the older EU member states.

But “whether Eastern Europeans like it or not, the communist experience is still in their collective memory. (…) It’s part of who they are. The legacy of slavery can still be felt in the southern regions of the US, even though slavery ended 150 years ago. Communism in contrast, ended [only] 25 years ago,” writes Tapon in his book.

This is why we refer to the region as emerging Europe. The CEE countries will never be able to change their location, no matter how hard they might like to. Our attempting to scrap the legacy of the past and pretending to be someone we are not will not change the way the region is perceived. Estonia will always remain Estonia. So will Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic and the others.

In his book Tapon shares Emerging Europe’s vision of the countries’ situation — “they are still relatively hidden. Of course, businesses and tourists have poured into the region ever since the [Berlin] Wall came down in 1989. However, the world is still far more familiar with Western Europe than Eastern Europe,” he concludes.

This is regardless of how much a particular state wants to rename itself or be referred to as a Nordic country, a part of central Europe or even a western state.

That is why it is critical for each and every one of the 23 countries that Emerging Europe covers, to emerge from behind the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall or whatever is encircling them. These walls are built out of stereotypes and lack of awareness. They do not show the advantages the countries and the region, as a whole, have to offer.

Do we have time to spare, to think about whether someone calls us an Eastern European or an emerging country, when global competition is becoming increasingly fierce? I don’t think we do. Instead, I believe we should be proud of the progress we have made for the last quarter of a century, while building an ever better future.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Not All Quiet on the Eastern Front

PiS Uses Media Control to Bring Poland to Heel

Jaroslaw kaczynski pis emerging europe

Is there any prospect of ‘Polexit’?

poland european union polexit

Measuring Growth of Societies with GDP Alone Shows an Incomplete Picture

International Women’s Day — Let’s Take Action And Then Celebrate

E-lifestyle and Cyber Security: Some Views From Estonia

Cyber Security Protection Firewall Interface Concept

Albania’s Election Apathy

tirana albania

Central and Eastern European Consumers Are Joining the Global Trends for Change

Romania Surviving the Waves of Recent Political Tsunamis in Europe

The CEE Region Is Making Advances in Prioritising Waste-to-Energy Projects

Good Match But Unlikely Marriage

The GREAT London Food Scene

Bakery in London

History as Destiny? Institutional Erosion in Ukraine and Poland

The Competitive Edge in Central and Eastern Europe

SOFIA BULGARIA - MAY 5: View of the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia on May 5 2016. Sofia is the largest city and capital of Bulgaria.

Will Poland Leave the European Union?

polexit

CEE-Benefits and Disadvantages of Joining the Eurozone

forint zloty euro

Regional Relations in the Western Balkans: Moving Beyond Folklore

Bosnia and Herzegovina flag with Serbia flag, 3D rendering

Stuck in Neutral: Georgia’s Constitutional Reforms

Tbilisi Parliament Georgia

LGBT in CEE — A New Acceptance Is Being Born From Migration

A New Division Between Eastern And Western Europe?

Czech Own Currency Insures Against Euro Losses

Euro Czech republic emerging europe

Poland’s Capital Saturation Lower Than the Czech Republic’s

deloitte fdi poland

How Will Poland Approach the Brexit Negotiations?

Is the Level of Foreign Ownership a Problem in Emerging Europe?

Flags of European countries flying from their capital cities. Viewed from the South.

January Kicks Off an Exciting Year for Emerging Europe

The Long Tail of Global Expansion

Will the New Five-day Visa-free Regime Encourage More Visitors to Belarus?

When Neutrality Isn’t an Option

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin

The Global Outsourcing Industry — the Rise of the Phoenix

EU Visa-Liberalisation Strengthens Georgia’s Pro-Western Path

georgia emerging europe eu

The Sharing Economy Could Bring New Business Models to CEE

Ex-Transition Economies’ FDI Recovery

dollar euro fdi

The Capital Markets Union: a New Beginning in the European Financial Sector?

2018 Elections — Vital Decisions for Hungary’s Future

Victor Orban energing europe

Only a United Opposition Can Defeat Poland’s Ruling Law and Justice Party

Classical building of Polish parliament. Warsaw in Poland.

A Positive and Modern View of Entrepreneurship

The Morawiecki Plan Promises a Brighter Future for Poland

The EU’s Benign Neglect Of Eastern Europe

Polish Tax Laws — Fighting a Winning Battle Against Tax Evaders

Moldova Falls Victim to Politicising

moldova emerging europe

Hungary’s Nationalist Assault on Free Enquiry

victor orban ceu

Macedonia’s Controversial Coalition Government

SKOPJE MACEDONIA emerging europe

Business Moving Forward with Cautious Optimism — Can Investors Win the Confidence Game?

Europe Needs To Be More Proactive In Embracing Armenia

Poland’s Unicorn, Slovakia’s Flying Car and the Future of Europe

Defending EU Values in Poland and Hungary

Eu hungary poland

Why Hungary’s New NGO Law Is Harmful for Business

Budapest, Hungary. Aerial view of the old city Budapest, Hungary with river and Parliament Building with cloudy blue sky

Belarus 2020: Turning the Vicious Circle Into an Upward Spiral

Old Fashioned Skulduggery Overshadows the Elections in Moldova

Poland Needs to Cling to the Eurozone

zloty euro emerging europe

Finalising the DCFTA is Expected to Bring Multiple Benefits to Ukraine

After 25 Years of Restructuring, the Romanian Power Sector Is at a Crossroad

Poland’s Drift Away From Democracy

Will a Two-speed European Union Side-line the Visegrad Four?

Examining How a Strong Swiss Franc Could Single-Handedly Topple Poland’s Economy

Bulgaria Needs a Reform-Oriented Government to Take Full Advantage of its EU Membership

bulgaria emerging europe

Big Fish, Small Fish, Where to Fish? On the Eve of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

CEE — Do We Need a Launch Pad For Our On-Site Tech Intelligence in the Silicon Valley

Belarusian Journalists Still Face Huge Problems

Under Promise, Over Deliver: Prospects for the EU’s Eastern Partnership in 2018

Eastern partnership

Could the West At Least Help Ukraine To Insure FDI Against Political Risks?

Brexit: Let’s Learn the Lesson and Hope a Better Europe Will Arise

Resignation in Ukraine: War, Revolution, Crisis — Some Things Never Change

Fiscal Policy Predictability in CEE — It’s Time for Change

After Its Significant Rise the Georgian Economy May Now Fall

Panorama of Tbilisi, Georgia in sunset rays. Vivid, saturated, splittoned image.

Azerbaijan: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Nothing

Baku

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Moves from Frozen to Kinetic

Nagorno-Karabakh

A Bosnian Referendum Shows Russia’s Influence in the Balkans—As Well As Its Limits

Are Labour Shortages Driving Economic Growth?

Changing Perspectives and Showing That True Romania is a Vibrant Innovative Country

Serbia’s New PM Is Cut From a Familiar Cloth

Serbian flag emerging europe

Impact of Brexit on EU-CEE Not Overstated

theresa may brexit

Czech Republic Renaming Has Real Economic Costs

European Volatility Makes Economic Development Slower for Ukraine

How Will Trump’s Visit Affect Polish Politics?

Donald trump

China: A Giant That Is Hard to Crack

Ukraine’s Reputation for Cheap Labour May Not Ring True in the Long-term

How strong is V4?

Viktor Orban

Emphasising the Incongruence Between the V4 Countries

Macron emerging europe

Where’s My Cheese? – The GREAT British Food Tour 2014

Cheese Shop

Outsourcing in Germany: Stop Talking at and Start Talking to

Are There Differences Between How Tax Regulations in Poland and IAS Treat Intangible Assets?

Partnership is the Key to CEE-Indian Business

Prepare for a New Europe

Swimpassing Dniester Without Prejudice To Democracy

Parliament of the republic of moldova in chisinau, national flag, stefan cel mare street, spring time with blue sky

Poland: Is it Ready, and is it Time to Adopt the Euro?

Falling into Old Ways in 2017? Ukraine’s Struggle for Functioning Economic Institutions

People Power Reminds the Government of the Rule of Law

Is the CEE Region About to Steal the Outsourcing Crown From India?

Amazing view on the Taj Mahal in sunset light with reflection in water. The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. Agra Uttar Pradesh India.

Political Tensions Rise As Croatia Allegedly Breaks the Dublin III Refugee Regulation

croatia migrants

Poland’s Confusing GDP Growth

We, the Post-Communist Generation, Have the Skills to Rid of the Past And Create Our Own Future

Europe at Odds over OPAL and Nord Stream 2

Adam Smith’s Warning for Poland

The Netherlands’ Objection to the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement could be Costly to Europe

United or Divided? Europe in the Face of the Challenges of Tomorrow

Breaking With Imitations of the Past

The Voice of European Business Must Be Heard Loud and Clear by Brexit Negotiators

The Right to Water: Who Can Change Today’s Situation?

Global Expansion in the Digital Age

Slovenia’s Presidential Election: Pahor Expected to Romp Home

Slovenia flag against blue sky waving in wind

The EU’s Choice: Fundamental Reform Or Disintegration

EU-CEE Is Still Growing at a Healthy Rate

Prague emerging europe

Can Armenia Keep a Foot in Both Camps?

European union armenia russia emerging europe

Poland Challenges the European Identity

Poland emerging europe

Hungary and Israel: the Collision of Past and Present

Budapest synagoge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *