Elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany this year have brought much drama to the old Carolingian core, where Charlemagne founded his empire in the ninth century. This has always been the richest and most strongly institutionalized part of Europe. But should the European Union continue to weaken, the most profound repercussions will be felt farther east and south.
There, along the fault line of the Austrian Hapsburg and Ottoman Turkish empires, former Communist countries lack the sturdy middle-class base of core Europe, and in many cases are still distracted by ethnic and territorial disputes 25 years after the siege of Sarajevo. They depend on pro-European Union governments as never before.
Here in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country squeezed between Central Europe and the Balkans, officials and experts talk about a so-called phantom frontier that still exercises people’s imagination. This is the “Antemurale Christianitatis,” the “Bulwark of Christianity,” proclaimed in 1519 by Pope Leo X, in a reference to the Roman Catholic Slavs considered the front line against the Ottoman Empire. Croatia was the first line of defense against the Muslim Sultanate, and Slovenia the second. “When Yugoslavia collapsed, it was assumed that none of this earlier history was important,” one official said to me recently. “But a quarter-century after the disintegration of Tito’s Yugoslavia, we find that we are back to late-medieval and early-modern history.”
Read the full article in The New York Times.
More from CNAS
PodcastSamuel Bendett on AI Development in Russia
What is happening in Russia right now with regards to development of artificial intelligence? In today’s bingecast, Samuel Bendett and Robert J. Marks discuss Russian military...
By Samuel Bendett
PodcastAutocratization in Central Europe with Dan Kelemen and Freedom House’s Zselyke Csaky
What does the deepening crisis of autocratization in Hungary and elsewhere in Central Europe mean for the future of the European Union? Dan Kelemen and Zselyke Csaky join Andr...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, Dan Kelemen & Zselyke Csaky
CommentaryHow Personalist Politics is Changing Democracies
This rapid increase is alarming: Personalist rule brings with it a host of negative outcomes compared to other types of authoritarian systems....
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Carisa Nietsche, Erica Frantz & Joseph Wright
PodcastMerkel’s Upcoming White House Visit and the Future of U.S.-German Relations with Cathryn Clüver and Jeff Rathke
What is the significance of Angela Merkel’s upcoming White House for the future of U.S.-German relations? Cathryn Clüver and Jeff Rathke join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Tow...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Cathryn Clüver & Jeff Rathke