Changing Political Geography and Geopolitics of the Central Europe

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The region of Central Europe comprises contemporary Poland, Hungary, Czech and Slovak Republics. Austrian Republic as a rule is considered a part of the region of Western Europe. The notion of “Central Europe” had been used intermittently since 1920s and it generally meant a group of states that had appeared on the territory of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire which had dissolved in 1918. Only Poland re- established itself as a state on the territory previously (since the 18th century) annexed by Austria along with Russia and Prussia in. The emergence of Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1918 in concrete boundaries of those days could be explained by the urgency of the already established national projects of the major ethnic groups as well as the geopolitical goals of Entente, especially those of the French Republic. France had a desire to sponsor rather loyal to itself states to the east of Germany, defeated in the WWI but considered in Paris as still potentially dangerous one. Geopolitical calculations were a reason which permitted the both states, Czechoslovakia and Poland to expand at the expense of territories with ethnically heterogeneous population. A former part of Austria-Hungarian Empire, Sudetenland, predominantly populated with ethnic Germans and some territories with ethnic Hungarians on the left bank of Danube and foothills of the Carpathian mountains had been joined to Czechoslovakia. Poland received access to the Baltic Sea which effectively made East Prussia an exclave of Germany. After war with Bolshevik Russia poliethnicity of population of Poland increased. In comparison with the abovementioned states Hungary considered itself the most aggrieved as large territories settled with ethnic Hungarians were to be ceded to the neighbouring states of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Austria. In interwar period geopolitical codes of Central European states frequently contradicted each other, there existed serious territorial claims. Political-geographical peculiarities which developed in the region became a reason of “self-justification” of expansionism of Nazi Germany in 1938-1939 that led Europe to WW2. After WW2 Central Europe turned into the sphere of interests of the Soviet Union and had undergone “Socialist transformation”. Sovereignty of all the states of the region was restricted. Large contingents of the Soviet Army had been deployed in each of them. The whole region had been joined to the military organisation of Warsaw Pact ruled from the Kremlin and the region was considered an outpost against NATO. The sovereignty of the states of the region had been restored after the end of Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact (1990). Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary signed in Visegrad (Hungary) the document establishing a regional group in 1991. After the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia into Czech and Slovak Republics (January 1, 1993) thes regional group acquired the name of TheVisegrad Four (V4). In the beginning it was intended as an instrument to support common policy of joining the EU while now V4 is used as a mean of coordination of foreign policy within the EU. The region of Central Europe joined the EU in 2004. Such membership is a prerequisite of economic and social development of all the states of the region and, simultaneously, a guarantor of avoidance of intraregional conflicts.
Central Europe, Geopolitical calculations, Poliethnicity, Warsaw Pact, Visegrad Four, EU