By John Wilkes
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Countries and nationalities suddenly seemed to emerge from the fog of long-forgotten Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia was an example of a state that disintegrated, leading to conﬂict and ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia, and in Bosnia between Serbs and Muslims. Yet the most important consequence of the fall of the Soviet Empire in relation to the equilibrium in Europe was the reuniﬁcation of Germany, which 30 The Decline and Fall of Europe brought the German question back to centre stage. Pessimists would side with those speaking of a ‘return of history’ and a revival of Europe’s old demons and nationalisms, and optimists with Francis Fukuyama, who had spoken of the ‘end of history’ in the sense of a democratic future by default.
The fall of the Soviet Union was no exception and had the effect of bringing back to the surface in its former zone of inﬂuence the old nationalisms. Countries and nationalities suddenly seemed to emerge from the fog of long-forgotten Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia was an example of a state that disintegrated, leading to conﬂict and ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia, and in Bosnia between Serbs and Muslims. Yet the most important consequence of the fall of the Soviet Empire in relation to the equilibrium in Europe was the reuniﬁcation of Germany, which 30 The Decline and Fall of Europe brought the German question back to centre stage.
But what about the newcomers, those nations that had bent over backwards to join the club later on, as soon as the Iron Curtain fell? Why didn’t they seize the opportunity to make their voices heard when given the chance? That Project Europe and its ideology of integration and shared prosperity had been delivering what was wanted was not lost on the nations at its periphery. Moreover, those in charge of Project Europe were happy to proselytize. Europe’s statue of liberty carried no book or torch as it was too busy opening its welcoming arms to its returning children.