Two kinds of small? The ‘EU core’ in Slovak and Czech geopolitical imagination

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Series Details Volume 27, Number 4, Pages 424-438
Publication Date April 2019
ISSN 1478-2490
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Abstract :

The article critically examines Czech and Slovak discourses on the so-called ‘core‘ of the European Union. It argues that despite their similarities as small Central European states, Slovakia and the Czech Republic exhibit significant differences in how the geopolitical imagination of their political establishments re-presents the countries‘ position in the center-periphery relations. The article does a two-step analysis. First, it discusses the cultural roots of the contemporary geopolitical imaginaries, tracing them back to formative periods of national history. Then, it analyzes present day establishment discourses on the ‘EU core‘, concluding that the Czech foreign policy debate demonstrates a much stronger tendency towards deliberate self-marginalization and is characterized by competing securitization discourses, one of which warns of the danger of marginalization outside of the ‘core‘ while the other attempts to securitize European and German ‘hegemony‘. The Slovak discourse, on the other hand, is characterized by an underlying constitutive fear of the Self, related to past experiences of anti-Western authoritarianism. This stimulates a much more Euroenthusiast Slovak attitude towards the ‘core‘. The article contributes to the social constructivist debate by arguing that small states can display different attitudes towards European integration based on their identities and historical experiences.

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