FORA Politics

Season 2009 Episode 0320

20 Years After the Fall of the Iron Curtain

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20 Years After the Fall of the Iron Curtain
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Twenty years have passed since the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The epochal changes that led to the largely peaceful end of the Cold War also opened the door for the unification of Germany. At the same time, it anchored Central and Eastern Europe -- from the Baltic to the Black Sea -- to the West in the EU and NATO. While the challenge of integrating and anchoring the Balkans remains incomplete, the historic accomplishment and step toward the vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace is widely seen as a tremendous success story.It has arguably made the continent today more peaceful and secure than in any time in the last century. Above all, this was a transatlantic success story as this project generated some of the closest and far-reaching cooperation between the two sides of the Atlantic in recent decades.At the same time, there are major questions as we look toward the future. The stability, resilience, and solidarity of a unified Europe is being tested in the current economic and financial crisis. Central and Eastern Europe is looking for strategic reassurance from a resurgent Russia. Western liberal democracy is no longer necessarily seen as the only option in countries on the periphery of Europe and Eurasia. The United States and Europe face the challenge of pursuing further democratic enlargement in the European neighborhood of an enlarged EU and NATO. Turkey's future EU membership prospects and anchoring in the West seem uncertain.Is there a new historical and strategic narrative to again mobilize the West to reach out to and embrace countries like Ukraine and Georgia -- or has the window of opportunity for enlargement closed? Above all, how do we deal with a Russia that today seems further from the West in terms of values and seems determined to roll back democratic breakthrough on its periphery but whose support we need on a range of issues from energy to Iran to Afghanistan?moreless
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