Gosar, A. GeoJournal (2000) 52: 107. doi:10.1023/A:1013306804212
Europe in general is in a great state of change. States uniting with difficulty, states collapsing in pain, newly freed states struggling for new political, economic, and social identities - it is a region in a true transition. The paper is focussing primarily on the European Shatter Belt, formerly known as ‘Eastern Europe’. This is in fact a subset of new and old nation-states in the region of Central and Eastern Europe or, to use an older, but increasingly popular term, ‘Mitteleuropa’ (Ruppert, 1997). ‘Mitteleuropa’ is reemerging from the commotion resulting from the collapse of the old political order - communism. Our focus in this presentation is on personal experiences and observations. We will note the progress and positive dimensions of the change (transition) in the light of Europe's and NATO expansion. We will address the issues at two scales- at the international/national level and then, at the level of a Slovenian case study. This will enable us to discuss the ‘natural system’ of the process of enlargement and incorporate supporting material of geographical, historical and social nature as envisioned by Hartshorne. Since the collapse of communism, the region has experienced some serious traumas that vary in intensity across the region. Probably the greatest pain has been experienced in the former Yugoslavia - an estimated 150,000 have perished and about 2.5 millions have been displaced within and outside the country. Chaos still exists despite the ‘protectorate arrangement’ in Bosnia. The hot spot Kosovo has yet to be calmed down. In parts of the region economic pain has been considerable. Every state of ‘Mitteleuropa’ experienced absolute economic decline from 1990–1995; high inflation rates, increased economic inequality, high levels of poverty, increase of crime and more. Economic and psychological stress effect demographic processes. Things have partly changed to the better in the most recent years. The adoption of capitalism and a democratic political system has been painful, disorienting, and is still in progress. The democratization process varies considerably across the region and in some states is in jeopardy. Reformed communist parties had staged a ‘restoration’ in nearly all of the states - in some winning the control of the government, in others gaining strong and influential positions, or both. But, two major processes promise future democracy, rule of law, wealth and stability in general. This is the decision of the member states of the European Union and NATO to incorporate some/several states of the Shatter Belt into their own zone of protection and/or federation. Nation-states of the region tend to follow the EU Agenda 2000 rules with Slovenia one of the first!
transition democracy Slovenia NATO/EU enlargement Mitteleuropa Central/Eastern Europe