Building the New Normal

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Series Details May 2011
Publication Date May 2011
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Two decades after the end of the Cold War, Central Europe was believed to have entered a period which one prominent Washington politico privately called an era of 'blessed boredom.' He was expressing the widely-held opinion that the region had successfully crossed the once-daunting threshold of political and economic reform and in fact, had completed the process of 'returning to Europe.' Indeed, the countries that once threatened to devolve into a post-communist ' grey zone of instability ' have had a remarkably successful run. They established democratic institutions and rebuilt their economies, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) and — though not always smoothly — began to contribute to transatlantic security missions. Who could have anticipated twenty years ago that Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic would one day hold the EU Presidency; that the Poles would help shape the Eastern Partnership policy and that they would command an international division in Iraq; or that troops from tiny Estonia would show what even the smallest ally could do in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). And while new NATO and EU members suffered setbacks during the 2008 'Great Recession,' some weathered the storm quite well, with Poland, for a period of time, being the only European economy that continued to grow.

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