Essay on What Is Eastern Europe, and Does It Still Exist in the Modern Era?

Published: 2021/11/24
Number of words: 8938


During the course of this essay I will be defining what Eastern Europe is and whether this entity still exists in the modern era. In order to answer my question, my thesis will be in subdivisions, based upon the common conceptions of what Eastern Europe is. The first subdivision will be concerned with politics, as Todorova suggests, Eastern Europe is a political region which was affiliated with Communist Europe[1]. Another section will be focused upon Eastern Europe as a region whose economy is seen to be backward in comparison to the West[2]. The third will relate to the notion that Eastern Europe does, “lie relatively to the East of other lands”[3], therefore it is just a geographical region. Within these subdivisions I will include an argument, based upon the idea that this is what defines Eastern Europe and also an argument concerning whether this ideal still exists within the modern era.

The phrase ‘modern era’ is defined as being “the present or recent times”[4]. My arguments concerning whether Eastern Europe still exists will be taken from the period 1989/1990 onwards. The reason I have chosen to use this period for the continuing existence or otherwise of Eastern Europe, is because this was a period of revolutions within the region, which are said to have been prompted by internal reforms in the USSR, which began to permit dissent within what was its sphere of influence[5]. The majority of the arguments and facts I will use are from the twentieth century. However, in order to bring context and historical background concerning the Eastern/Western European division, I will include a section which illustrates the division that existed as far back as the Renaissance.

Need an essay assistance?
Our professional writers are here to help you.
Place an order

It must be noted, that both questions are hugely controversial to historians, scholars and even average members of the public. There are “almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region”[6], illustrating the extensive studies which has been undertaken in an attempt to define the region. The ferocity of arguments concerning Eastern Europe’s present existence is a debate which still rages just as much, if not more than any concerning a correct definition of the region. Historians such as Forrester believe that Eastern Europe ceased to exist after 1989 and the falling of the iron curtain[7], an idea with which Wolff appears to concur in his publication ‘Inventing Eastern Europe’[8]However, there is still evidence offered by intellectuals which disagrees with this theory, some still believe that Eastern Europe does still exist in the modern era.

The North South Divide

Historians note that the separation of Eastern and Western Europe precedes the statement concerning the iron curtain and the cold war, made by Churchill[9]. However, during the Renaissance the division was originally between the North and South of Europe[10]. The North was viewed as barbaric compared to the Southern region, which contained nations such as Italy. A publication from 1785 by Coxe shows the Northern Kingdom included nations such as Russia, Poland, Denmark and Sweden[11]. Sweden and Denmark are said to have become disassociated from their faction with Russia and Poland, instead nations such as Hungary were identified as being Northern European[12]. These countries that could be associated with modern day Eastern Europe, shifted their divide from horizontal to a vertical one at the time of the Renaissance. Within this new divide one can observe similar stereotypes that can be associated, both with Eastern Europe in the twentieth century and those which were evident during the Renaissance. For example, travellers to the region from Western Europe noted the difference in culture and the oppressive nature of the region in comparison to their own countries[13].

As the idea of civilization seemed to be evolving throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe seems to have adopted a subordinate role to the West, (Woolf)[14]. There is also evidence showing that the power Russia held within the region, existed before the rise of Bolshevism[15]. Within the Renaissance period a scholar known as Ledyard invented the concept of “philosophic geography”, essentially this is the practice of labelling an area not just due to its geographical position, but also its philosophical values[16]. This is a similar process which is taken for viewing Eastern Europe in the twentieth century as a political or social expanse. A Frenchman named Segur agreed with this process, he believed that he seemed to leave Europe, whilst still remaining within its borders, whilst in region identified as Eastern Europe. This strange outsider region, which seemed to be unlike the West, was conceived to be “east of Europe”[17]. This is proof that the divides and stereotypes I will be viewing are not necessarily new, 20th century phenomenon. Some historians take this theory further into the past; Todorova for example argues that the East and West divide has been evident since the time of the ancient Greeks[18]. However, even he acknowledges that the divide really came to fruition much later during the time of the Renaissance, (when compared to what we now see it in its modern form).[19]

Eastern Europe as a geo-political region

Crampton argues that Eastern Europe is defined in political terms rather than by simple geographical boundaries. The nations he labels with the term ‘Eastern European’ are the communist nations who were under Soviet control from 1945, also shown is that nations branded with the term Eastern European changed, depending on their political affiliation[20]. A view seconded by Stokes, who does not include Yugoslavia and Albania within his portrayal of Eastern Europe due to them not being fully under Soviet control at the time of his study[21]. Churchill stated that Eastern Europe was joined, “in what I must call the Soviet sphere”[22], leading him, in 1946 to describe the division between Eastern and Western Europe as an “iron curtain”. This was said to cause a boundary both in maps, and physiologically in the view of all other nations about the division of Europe[23]. Eastern Europe was the nations associated with communism under Soviet domination. Analysts believe Churchill used the word “iron” to portray this division, (using a metaphor of a harsh object) to display the impenetrable nature of the divide between East and West[24].

Russian domination caused the ideologies of communism and socialism to become dominant throughout the region[25] and from 1945 Eastern Europe was governed by communist governments[26]. The presence of Red Army members within Soviet nations gave further support to the communist regimes[27]. The elections of Eastern Europe were further evidence of the practice of totalitarianism[28]. Consequently latter generations associated communism with oppression[29], rather than the ideals of working class protection which it was originally meant to uphold[30]. Letters written in 1994-1996 about life within Eastern Europe, communicate from first hand experience the life under communism and how it was a hated regime[31] which was associated with enslavement and fear[32]. This lead to Hunington in 1984 to conclude that democracy in Europe was not a very likely prospect[33], further proof that Eastern Europe is associated with communism and Soviet domination. It is said there was constant interference from the USSR in the politics of its satellite states, a famous example being Ulbricht’s deposal from leadership of the GDR in 1971[34]. Other examples of Soviet interference include the failed Hungarian revolution of 1956, which was quashed by the Soviets[35].

Post 1947 the Eastern European states were also conscripted into the Soviet conflict against Britain and the United States, in what is commonly known as the Cold War[36]. The Eastern European countries had no choice but to join this conflict as they were firmly under the rule of Russia, also they practiced the same communist regimes to which the UK and US were resolutely opposed. This “unified conceptual political framework”, as described by Rothschild[37], was the only thing which united Eastern Europe in an area which is described as having a great variety of people within a relatively small space, (meaning they do not have ethnic and cultural similarities to unite them)[38]. Proving Eastern Europe is a term associated with politics rather than geography or society. Some historians offer evidence to suggest this geo-political society was apparent even before Churchill’s iron curtain statement. For example in 1925, Albania sent individuals for political training to the Soviet Union, and by 1928 they became a communist state within their own right, Konare purged members who opposed this political transformation[39]. Prior to this, socialists in Hungary 1919 were pressurised by returning prisoners of war from Russia, who had been converted to communist ideation[40]. It was even decided in Moscow on November the 4th 1918 that a Hungarian communist party would be formed[41]. Eastern Europe became a Russian dominated territory, with a communist state governmental system.

In 1987 Gorbachev made the statement that a “multi party system is still a distant dream”[42]. It could be argued this statement was inaccurate, as a multi party system has been evident in many Eastern European states since as early 1990, (Rothschild)[43]. Democratic elections began to be held within Eastern Europe in,1990 in Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia[44], 1991 Poland and in Latvia which had its first elections in 1993[45]. Historians note that via the ballot box Eastern Europe has joined the “democratic camp”[46] and are in greater harmony with the rest of Europe because of the changes to their political system. Albania’s elections, which have seen parties of left, right and centre ideologies winning elections is yet further proof of democracy[47]. Also, the communist powers are said not to have been able to gain significant support to win an election in Eastern Europe since 1989[48]. For example in 1996 elections in Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria have all had anti communist/socialist majorities[49], as well as Poland 1991 where the Liberal Democratic Union won the election with 12.31% of the vote[50]. These political developments support the concept that Eastern Europe as a distinct political entity no longer exists. Eastern European countries were once associated with communist command, now this is no longer true then it is evident that Eastern Europe no longer exists.

It seems that Eastern Europe continues to reject the communist system that at one point defined it. For example in 2002, the Czech Social Democrats refused a coalition with the Communists despite the left wing majority that this would have created[51]. Former communists in many cases were persecuted, Kiosk who was first convicted at the Prague Spring was again convicted for being a member of the committee of the Czechoslovak Communist party during the post 1989 period, fuelling fears that communists would be denied all legal rights, (Havel)[52]. Citizens also showed their disdain for communism, for example in January 1997, 100,000 people on the streets of Bulgaria jumped in unison to show their defiance to communism and its ideals[53]. Many communist parties also totally reformed to become socialist parties[54]. The communist parties either no longer existed or had insufficient support, consequently Eastern Europe can not be labelled as a communist state, and therefore Eastern Europe no longer exists. In essence what was ironically described as the “good old days have communism have not returned” [55].

The Russian dominance, which was once evident within Eastern Europe has not disappeared. In 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved[56], and in 1992 Gorbachev declared the cold war was officially over[57]. Russia was once dominant over a group who were Western Europe’s opponents during the Cold War. Now Russia are no longer dominating the region and the Cold War is longer raging, it is evident Eastern Europe no longer exists in the modern era. Russian troops left the Eastern European countries they once guarded, for example one of the last countries to lose the military presence was Estonia in 1994[58]. Graves of Russian soldiers were also desecrated in Poland in February 1990[59], although distasteful, it indicates the disdain certain Eastern European countries have for their former leaders. Holmes believes that Russia now emulates rather than dictates the political practices of the rest of Eastern Europe; she describes as an example, the anti-communist revolution in Russia which occurred 2 years later than the rest of Eastern Europe[60]. Now Eastern Europe is no longer a communist state dominated by Russia, there is a strong argument that in this modern era the label of Eastern Europe which engulfed those nations, no longer applies since the 1989 revolutions.

However, there is evidence to suggest that Eastern Europe still has undemocratic features to its political institutions, for example its elections. Observers found that the Romanian elections were in many ways unfairly conducted[61], also the Albanian elections in 1996 were noted to be corrupt[62]. In 1991 Algerian elections were cancelled as it was feared the party who won the election would change the political system[63]. Zenman in 1998 also made it a top priority for his Slovakian government to end political corruption[64]. There is also evidence which suggests the communist political system is still thriving, for example if less than 50% vote in the election, then it is void[65], this system could be viewed as typically Eastern European, as it was evident during many pre 1989 political systems. Communist parties can also be seen to be active within the region. Former communists were said to dominate parliament after the 1995 Polish elections[66], also Czech communists retained significant support to gain second place with 13.5% of the vote at the first democratic election[67]. This shows that the Eastern European political system which defined it as separate from Western Europe still exists, proving there is still a divide.

Western journalists also feared communism was re-emerging during the 1992 Lithuanian elections, and at the time of the Polish elections in 1993 due to the socialist “swing” [68]. Also in Romania the FSN party were said to look very similar to its communist predecessors[69]. It is noted that in October 1994 coalitions that governed in Poland and Lithuania contained former communist members[70]. Further, old communist elites have not disappeared entirely; they now hold other positions of authority such as directors of banks[71]. Price and other historians suggest that even though Eastern Europe is becoming more of a democracy, it still seeks support from Western Europe[72]. I believe that if support is still required this proves that politically Eastern Europe is still a separate entity from the West. This differentiation may suit Serbia, who were said to have an anti-Western sentiment within their parliament since the 2003 election[73]. It is also suggested by Holmes that Russia still have indirect political influence over their former satellite states[74] and it could be argued that Russia left Poland by their own terms in 1993[75]. This all provides evidence to show that Eastern Europe is still a geo-political area which can be differentiated from Western Europe, in that the system is still not fully democratic, and the communists do still hold some power.

International organisations

In response to Truman’s Marshall Aid, Stalin established the group Cominform in September 1947[76]. The members of this organisation were the nations that could be considered as being part of Eastern Europe. In contrast groups like the North Atlantic Treaty organisation (NATO), the European Council (EC) and the European Union (EU) were ultimately the symbol of the West[77]. Groups such as the EU and NATO have encouraged former Eastern European nations to change politically, economically and socially in order to gain a place within their organisations[78]. Historians argue that the European Council forms the basis of the construction of a wider Europe[79] and that membership to this group indicates the aforementioned nations have been accepted and are showing political democracy[80]. Many former Eastern European countries are now members of such groups, this would show that Eastern Europe no longer exists as Europe is now a composition of countries within such groups as the EU, rather than there being a division between East and West. For example, Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007[81], also earlier in 2004 Slovakia, the Czech Republic and 6 other former communist countries were invited to join[82], acceptance into the EU was particularly seen as a great success for Slovakia[83].

The 4 main conditions for gaining membership into the EU as set out in Copenhagen 1993,[84] seem reasonably strict and may not be easily achieved for many Eastern European nations. Tom Gallagher believes that this criterion has been made intentionally difficult to achieve, as it stops new members possibly becoming an economic and political burden to existing members[85]. This proves Eastern Europe did exist as a political and economic entity which was different from the West. But, the acceptance of these former groups into international European organizations shows that we are now all part of a greater Europe based upon being members of such organisations, meaning Eastern Europe no longer exists.

It has been argued that groups like the EU have totally replaced the former, “iron curtain”[86]. If the EU has become the new, “iron curtain”, then it could suggest that the countries who are not accepted form a new definition of what constitutes an Eastern European nation. For example Moldova is still not recognised by the EU[87]. Slovakia was also originally not accepted, as they did not meet the economic criteria[88]. The nations which are not yet part of these organisations are said to have “not yet returned to Europe”[89], showing that the division between East and West does still exist. I also suggest that being a member of one such international organisation does not necessarily mean that a country is part of a greater Europe, to the exclusion of being a part of the East. Conversely, nations that are not members of this group are not instantly Eastern European. For example the Economic and Monetary Union contains nations such as Slovakia but not the UK. This would suggest that the UK is part of Eastern Europe, which is a statement that could be argued to be completely ridiculous. This would show the divides which separate Eastern and Western Europe still exist, and that membership in the international organisations do not provide sufficient evidence to argue otherwise.

Defining Eastern Europe by its geography alone

The argument that Eastern Europe is simply a geographical region is one which does not seem to have extensive support from scholars. However, certain information within publications does indirectly allude to the fact that Eastern Europe is just a geographical area. Geoffrey and Nigel Swain display various maps within their publication, ‘Eastern Europe since 1945’, which show that despite the names of countries and border lines changing through the course of the 20th century, the area which is labelled Eastern Europe does not change[90]. It may also be for geographical reasons that Eastern Europe is labelled with various other definitions. Batt, suggests that Eastern Europe’s geographical position made it vulnerable to invasion from multi national empires[91], because of this Eastern Europe today is populated by people of multiple and varied ethnicity, this would show Eastern Europe is primarily a geographical area. Without its geographical position it would not have its association with any political, social or economic differences. If Eastern Europe is a geographical area it does still exist in the modern era as it has, “never moved” [92]. Greeks are said to believe they are going to Western states when they go to nations such as France[93], which geographically is west of Greece. Greece is situated in Eastern Europe, however it is not generally considered as an Eastern European country as it is not associated with the political and socioeconomic differences like the other nations. This shows the division of East and Western Europe is geographical.

Similar examples of European perspective do indicate that the notion of Eastern Europe is too simplistic to classify as merely a geographical area. For example, Poland view themselves as Western, but see nations such as Albania as Eastern[94]. Despite the fact that geographically there is not much separation between the two nations if a vertical line is drawn through Europe. Also, Vienna is further East than Prague, yet the Czech Republic was considered far more of an Eastern state than Austria[95]. Yugoslavia denied they were part of Eastern Europe during the cold war period[96], if it was just about geography they would not be able to make such a statement as it simply would not be true. The term Eastern Europe is more complex than just a reference to a position in the world. Forrester uses the work of Rabasa to point out that geography is a man made concept, it was not the geology of earth that created these divides and borders[97]. This would mean that there has to be a more complex reason, (whether it be political or otherwise is debatable), and the evidence I have presented supports the notion that Eastern Europe is not just a geographical area. With reference to this geographical definition I have shown Eastern Europe never existed, which means it continues not to exist in the modern era.

Eastern Europe as a ‘backward’ region

The label of ‘backward’ Eastern Europe has been given is arguably due to the regions poor economy. Historians such as Gellner state, that Eastern Europe has a third world status[98]. This could be viewed as a derogatory and slightly exaggerated comment. However, there are many examples to prove Eastern Europe is economically weaker than the West, as early as the 1930’s prices of products such as grain began to drop, causing peasants to compensate by creating more, further devaluing the value of the products[99]. During the 1950’s there then began to be a shortage of consumer goods causing a rise in the black market, the situation was so bad a Czech stated that if, “you do not rob and steal from the state you are robbing your own family”[100]. The situation remained just as desperate during the 1970’s; in Hungary men worked extra jobs to support their families, which caused a lowering in the life expectancy of a whole generation of male workers[101]. Entrepreneurs in the region also made far less than their Western counterparts[102], this caused a less entrepreneurial culture within Eastern Europe, which if it had existed could arguably have helped the economy[103]. In 1979 a Hungarian economist resolved himself to the fact that something had to be done about the economy and the foreign debt[104], similar sentiments were felt in Poland[105]. During the 1980’s light bulbs were not sold publically in the GDR, they were only used in offices or schools due to the lack of production and general poor economy[106]. The poor economic standing of the region is what made the area synonymous with ‘backwardness’, which caused the division between East and West.

This economic division seemed clear even to the East who are said to be aware of their products evident deficiencies when compared to the West[107]. This division was also recognised by politicians; Khrushchev for example dedicated his economic policy to surpassing the West[108], Batt believes that this was a failure and the East fell even further behind the West[109]. The invention of Star Wars by the US also indicated the East had lost the arms race, into which they had invested much of their economic funds[110]. The fact that politicians, economists and the general public recognised the economic division between East and West proves that this economic backwardness can be used to define it.

One reason for Eastern European economic weakness could be the mismanagement by the USSR. For example the region still operated with a Stalinist model designed during the 1930’s[111], which meant the economic model didn’t evolve when necessary. The policy of central planning is also said to have caused a general shortage of goods[112]. Some historians would argue that the original writing of the Marxists affected Eastern European economy, this is because they followed a system which rejected marketing, leading to the arbitrary pricing of items, rather than it being based on, for example, man hours and cost of production [113]. Economically from 1946 Stalin isolated himself from the West in terms of trade[114], to subsidize the lack of income Moscow often pressured other members for money in order to fund their own means[115]. A culmination of these strategies led Eastern Europe to fall behind the West economically, despite them directing policies with the aim of surpassing them. The fact so many people recognised the division economically between the West and East, (despite the USSR manipulating many figures to say otherwise[116]), shows that Eastern Europe was an area which was synonymous with economic ‘backwardness’. This would mean Eastern Europe is the poorer, less economically sound area, in comparison to the capitalist West.

There is evidence to suggest that this trend of Eastern European economic inferiority has continued since the European revolutions of 1989, proving Eastern Europe does still exist in the modern era. An article within the, ‘Chicago Tribune’, emulated Churchill’s ‘iron curtain’ speech, stating that many Eastern European countries were sliding further into backwardness[117]. Evidence suggests that the economy of the region fell by 4% after 1990[118], also certain enterprises became bankrupt in the Eastern portion of Germany after the change in currency[119]. Trade also suffered post 1990, Romanian exports in particular[120] but especially Bulgaria, who lost many trading partners after the Soviet Union was disbanded[121]. Throughout the region trading exportation fell, in particular for products such as crude oil, which is said to have fallen by 30%[122]. Economically Eastern Europe is still so weak that even recently whole economies have collapsed, for example in Bulgaria 1996[123]. The fact economically the East is so fragile, proves that the division between East and West does still exist in the modern era, and therefore proves the existence of Eastern Europe.

In 1992 a specialist bank was set up just to deal with the economic problems in Eastern Europe[124], it is also noted that Western banks generally help Eastern ones, with the running and management of the economy[125]. The economic problems that the East is encountering are still having a negative effect on the citizens of Eastern Europe. Milanovich estimated that during the period between the late 1980s and 1995 citizens who are below the poverty line in Eastern Europe has actually risen from 4% (14 million) to a staggering 45% (168 million)[126]. Further work undertaken by Milanovich during 1998 indicated that unemployment was rife within the region, which particularly affected families when it was the head of the households who were in long term unemployment[127]. Price estimated in the early 1990s that there would be unemployment and lowering living standards due to the transition that would take place within the market[128], his prediction has certainly come to pass. There is also the issue of the mixed private and state pensions which Millard suggests are not functioning well[129]. This proves economically, the East are still backward when compared to the West, indicating that the divide does still exist in the modern era.

Stokes notes that Hungary is dividing into a region where the Eastern side, (bordering the Ukraine), is becoming further impoverished compared to the Western segments[130]. Ironically this can be seen as an emulation of the real economic divides which exist within Europe in its entirety. The original nations classified as Eastern European are now creating divides within their own borders. Similar comparisons have been made here in London, with its thriving Western area in comparison to an impoverished Eastern region[131]. Although I am not suggesting that the geographical location of an area predisposes it to its economic statues, the fact such comparisons are being made proves people still see the economic divide between East and West, which proves the partition does still exist in the modern era. However similar studies have been made on related concepts. Hobsbawn for example tried to indicate why the East are backward compared to the West, by comparing and contrasting Albania and Switzerland[132], who have similar resources yet are worlds apart economically.

Terry Cox states that most people within Eastern Europe feel their lives have not improved since the 1990s[133]. Recently there has been an influx of migrants from Eastern European nations to the West, which is said to have caused much tension within these countries[134]. The fact migrants are willing to face, by our standards, poor living conditions, (often living in cramped conditions with other workers), shows they are desperate for the economic prosperity the West offers. This would show the separation does still exist within the modern era. There is also a booming market in the post communist modern era for email order brides, brought from the East by the West[135]. The fact women are willing to ‘sell themselves’ to get away from the economic hardship they face within their own nations, proves there is still an economic divide between East and West in the modern era. This division cannot be masked, as indicated by Clintons visit to Romania in 1996. Although images were shown of happy, thriving children, the, ‘New York Times’ saw through this ruse and noted that there was an avoidance to show the harsh conditions of the orphanages, which were still common[136]. The economic problems that are still evident within Eastern Europe cannot be hidden and continue to mark the divide between East and West, which does still exists within the modern era.

However, there is evidence to suggest that the Eastern European nations have began to bridge the economic gap with the West, which would mean the division no longer exists in the modern era. In 1996 an article in the ‘The Economist’, documented that Estonia was an economic success story within Eastern Europe[137]. The priotity of the manifesto of the United Peasant Party (PZPR) at the first democratic elections in 1990 was that the normalisation of the economy was essential[138] and it appears that these attempts have been successful. Some historians even believe that living standards have improved so much that they have caught up with the West[139]. This is certainly evident for the workers of Eastern Europe, such as miners, who in 1990 were given a 50% wage increase and a retiring age of 45[140]. Holmes also feels that the quality and availability of consumer goods in Eastern Europe has vastly improved, possibly due to the increase in trade with the West which has occurred since the lifting of the iron curtain[141]. Trading with the West has also resulted in the East developing better technology in order to catch up with the West. Exportation from the West to the East has said to have occurred since 1992 and trading still continues today[142].

The economy of Eastern Europe has improved so much that Western banks now see these nations as a commodity worthy of investment, the Czech Republic is one nation particularly noted for the interest from Western banks and investors[143]. The nations are said to have taken this investment with enthusiasm, rather than scepticism, and this investment has resulted in a more solid, stable economy in the Eastern region of Europe[144]. The economic growth of Eastern Europe has not only been due to the investment and trade from the West, the internal policies have also had a positive impact. For example the Citizen Voucher scheme, which in some cases allows members of the public to acquire shares and invest in enterprises. The vouchers in Russia from 1992 were sometimes given the value of as much as 10,000 roubles each. Such schemes encouraged a property owning mentality and also encouraged an entrepreneurial nature within the region, which helped improve the economy[145]; other successful internal schemes included mass privatization[146]. Now Eastern European economies have improved, it can be said the division which once existed has now ceased to exist within the modern era.

There is much evidence to suggest that there is international recognition of Eastern Europe as being a growing economic power. For example George W.Bush invited Poland to administer the reconstruction of post war Iraq; this can be seen as a political gesture aimed to get Poland’s support[147]. Due to the growing economy of Poland and population size, there is the possibility they will have much influence in Europe, and when they do the US will want them as a partner. The fact powerful Western nations see the growing power of Eastern European nations, and are now attempting to ally with them, shows there is no longer a divide. A culmination of reasons including the restructuring of the economy led to State Departments in 1994 discussing a banishing of the phrase Eastern Europe[148], instead a more “neutral title: Southeast Europe” [149] and central Europe will be used. Central Europe is the phrase which was generally used to describe Eastern Europe when they were doing something positive[150]. The way Eastern Europe has shed its economic issues and improved the lives of its citizens is certainly positive and shows it deserves its more neutral title, rather than being known as Eastern Europe which still holds negative connotations, proving Eastern Europe no longer exists in the modern era.


To conclude, I feel it is essential that I structure my conclusion in the same manner I structured the rest of my assignment. By that I mean, I will first make a concluding remark regarding what Eastern Europe is, then a separate statement concerning whether or not it still exists in the modern era.

I believe that Eastern Europe is a term used to describe the communist nations which were under Russian domination. Churchill’s iron curtain statement, which referred to Eastern Europe as a political entity left a firm border within Europe. The nations placed as Western Europe’s opposition during the cold war, are those we consider to be part of Eastern Europe. Whilst I do agree that the poor economy of the East defines the area, I would like to suggest that this relates to the political situation and Russian mismanagement, without which the area may not have been so impoverished. I also suggest that Eastern Europe being defined as just a geographical area to the East is one which can be easily dismissed, borders are made on the map and the mind for a reason, and without the communist takeovers which occurred after the Second World War, this separation would not have existed in the same manner.

Worry about your grades?
See how we can help you with our essay writing service.

Since the 1989 revolutions, communism is no longer the leading political force in Eastern Europe. Parties have either been totally eradicated from the political system or have reformed to become more moderate socialist parties. Russian dominance has also ended, Russia now emulates the democratic feats undertaken by its former satellite states. The eradication of the communist ideology from the region means that the statement made by Gorbachev in 1987 that “we are all Europeans” [151] has finally come to pass. Instead of separating under two different political entities, Europe has become united under the flag of international organisations such as the EU which is promoting a united Europe, and encouraging the former Eastern European nations to conform to Western standards.

All of my research leads me to conclude Eastern Europe no longer exists in the modern era. It must be acknowledged that for the older generation from the West, who grew up during the cold war period (1947-1991) the countries on the opposing side will always be synonymous with Eastern Europe, a war in recent history always helps cement prejudice and a division between people. However, for the newer generation our neighbours from the East all seem as part of the same European community and now new phrases such as the, “Middle East”, are being popularized when describing the new enemy that Western civilization faces.


R.J Crampton, Eastern Europe in the twentieth century- and after, second edition, (Routledge, 1997)

Forrester, Over the Wall, After the Fall, (Indiana University Press, 2004)

Leslie Holmes, Post Communism, An Introduction, (Blackwell Publishers, 1998)

Dave Kirby, Northern Europe in the Baltic World 1492-1722, (Longman Group, 1990)

Adam Michnik, Letters from freedom, Post-Cold war realities and perspectives, (University of California Press, 1998)

Geoffrey Pridham, Democratization in Eastern Europe, (Routledge, 1994)

Joseph Rothschild, East central Europe between the Two World Wars, (University of Washington press, 1977)

Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity, fourth edition, (Oxford University Press, 2008)

Gale Stokes, The Walls came tumbling down, the collapse of Eastern Europe, (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Geoffery Swain, Eastern Europe since 1945, (Macmillan Press, 1993)

Keith Sword, Guide to Eastern Europe, (Times Brooks, 1990)

Maria Todorova, Balkan Identities, Nation and Memory, (C.Hurst and Co. 2004)

Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Stephen White, Developments in Central and East European Politics, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe, the map of civilization on the mind of the Enlightenment, (Stanford University Press, 1994)

Internet resources

Global Perspectives, The Balkans <> [Accessed 1st October 2009]

Princeton University, Wordnet <> [Accessed 3rd March 2010]

TalkTalk Encyclopaedia, Revolutions of 1989 <> [Accessed 1st February 2010]

[1] Maria Todorova, Balkan Identities, Nation and Memory, (C.Hurst and Co. 2004) p.14

[2] Todorova, Balkan Identities, p.280

[3] Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe, the map of civilization on the mind of the Enlightenment, (Stanford University Press, 1994) 356

[4] Princeton University, Wordnet <> [Accessed 3rd March 2010]

[5] TalkTalk Encyclopaedia, Revolutions of 1989 <> [Accessed 1st February 2010

[6] Global Perspectives, The Balkans <> [Accessed 1st October 2009]

[7] Forrester, Over the Wall, After the Fall, (Indiana University Press, 2004) p.9

[8] Wolff, Inventing, p.14

[9] Wolff, Inventing, p.4

[10] Wolff, Inventing, p.4

[11] Wolff, Inventing, p.5

[12] Wolff, Inventing, p.5

[13] Wolff, Inventing, p.359

[14] Wolff, Inventing, p.364

[15] Wolff, Inventing, p.360

[16] Wolff, Inventing, p.6

[17] Wolff, Inventing, p.6

[18] Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, (Oxford University Press, 1997) p.11

[19] Todorova, Imagining, p.11

[20] R.J Crampton, Eastern Europe in the twentieth century- and after, second edition, (Routledge, 1997) p.xi

[21] Gale Stokes, The Walls came tumbling down, the collapse of Eastern Europe, (Oxford University Press, 1993) p.11

[22] Wolff, Inventing, p.1

[23] Wolff, Inventing, p.1

[24] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.13

[25] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.1

[26] Geoffery Swain, Eastern Europe since 1945, (Macmillan Press, 1993) p.3

[27] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.4

[28] Geoffrey Pridham, Democratization in Eastern Europe, (Routledge, 1994) p.128

[29] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.6

[30] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.18

[31] Adam Michnik, Letters from freedom, Post-Cold war realities and perspectives, (University of California Press, 1998) p.31

[32] Michnik, Letters, p.322

[33] Pridham, Democratization, p.1

[34] Leslie Holmes, Post Communism, An Introduction, (Blackwell Publishers, 1998) p.306

[35] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.6

[36] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.4

[37] Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity, fourth edition, (Oxford University Press, 2008) p.61

[38] Stephen White, Developments in Central and East European Politics, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) p.3

[39] Joseph Rothschild, East central Europe between the Two World Wars, (University of Washington press, 1977) p.362

[40] Rothschild, East central, p.142

[41] Rothschild, East central, p.142

[42] Stokes, The Walls, p.93

[43] Rothschild, Return, p.243

[44] Pridham, Democratization, p.132-144

[45] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.427

[46] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.421

[47] Rothschild, Return, p.234

[48] Rothschild, Return, p.225

[49] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.421

[50] Rothschild, Return, p.214

[51] White, Developments, p.186

[52] Michnik, Letters, p.227-233

[53] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.288

[54] Stokes, The Walls, p.170

[55] Michnik, Letters, p.309

[56] Pridham, Democratization, p.218

[57] Wolff, Inventing, p.372

[58] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.425

[59] Michnik, Letters, p.138

[60] Holmes, Post Communism, p.308

[61] Stokes, The Walls, p.171

[62] Rothschild, Return, p.243

[63] Pridham, Democratization, p.149

[64] White, Developments, p.55

[65] Pridham, Democratization, p.129

[66] Rothschild, Return, p.215

[67] Rothschild, Return, p.217

[68] Holmes, Post Communism, p.331

[69] Stokes, The Walls, p.172

[70] Michnik, Letters, p.306

[71] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.258

[72] Pridham, Democratization, p.245

[73] Rothschild, Return, p.242

[74] Holmes, Post Communism, p.321

[75] Holmes, Post Communism, p.311

[76] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.5

[77] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.16

[78] Rothschild, Return, p.212

[79] Pridham, Democratization, p.250

[80] Pridham, Democratization, p.243

[81] Rothschild, Return, p.229

[82] Rothschild, Return, p.221

[83] Rothschild, Return, p.221

[84] White, Developments, p.254

[85] White, Developments, p.254

[86] White, Developments, p.265

[87] White, Developments, p.19

[88] Rothschild, Return, p.221

[89] Rothschild, Return, p.212

[90] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.viii-390

[91] White, Developments, p.9

[92] White, Developments, p.17

[93] Todorova, Imagining, p.16

[94] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.12

[95] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.xi

[96] Todorova, Imagining, p.52

[97] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.2

[98] Todorova, Imagining, p.157

[99] Rothschild, East central, p.23

[100] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.252

[101] Stokes, The Walls, p.87

[102] Stokes, The Walls, p.83

[103] Holmes, Post Communism, p.216

[104] Stokes, The Walls, p.80

[105] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.160

[106] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.251

[107] Holmes, Post Communism, p.205

[108] Holmes, Post Communism, p.28

[109] Holmes, Post Communism, p.26

[110] Holmes, Post Communism, p.30

[111] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.250

[112] Swain, Eastern Europe, p.111

[113] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.112

[114] Holmes, Post Communism, p.28

[115] Holmes, Post Communism, p.201

[116] Holmes, Post Communism, p.203

[117] Todorova, Imagining, p.157

[118] Stokes, The Walls, p.188

[119] Stokes, The Walls, p.192

[120] Stokes, The Walls, p.189

[121] Rothschild, Return, p.230

[122] Stokes, The Walls, p.188

[123] Rothschild, Return, p.230

[124] Wolff, Inventing, p.9

[125] Stokes, The Walls, p.255

[126] White, Developments, p.245

[127] White, Developments, p.244

[128] Pridham, Democratization, p.223

[129] White, Developments, p.39

[130] Stokes, The Walls, p.255

[131] Todorova, Imagining, p.42

[132] Wolff, Inventing, p.9

[133] White, Developments, p.251

[134] Holmes, Post Communism, p.305

[135] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.13

[136] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.45

[137] Crampton, Eastern Europe, p.426

[138] Michnik, Letters, p.136

[139] Keith Sword, Guide to Eastern Europe, (Times Brooks, 1990) p.7

[140] Sword, Guide, p.51

[141] Holmes, Post Communism, p.221

[142] Sword, Guide, p.45

[143] Sword, Guide, p.68

[144] Holmes, Post Communism, p.212

[145] Holmes, Post Communism, p.211

[146] Holmes, Post Communism, p.211

[147] Forrester, Over the Wall, p.23

[148] Todorova, Imagining, p.141

[149] Todorova, Imagining, p.141

[150] Todorova, Imagining, p.157

[151] Wolff, Inventing, p.372

Cite this page

Choose cite format:
Online Chat Messenger Email
+44 800 520 0055