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Heretic Geopolitics in the Late Cold War Era: Lessons for the Future of Central Europe?

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper provides a historic insight into an alternative idea on CE foreign policies that emerged in the 1980s in the dissident circles; a coherent radical program of geopolitical revision that influenced larger political circles in the “East” and “West” towards the end of the decade. The Czech dissident Jaroslva Šabata was the lead author of the 1985 “Prague Appeal” of Charer77, which despite its unmatched political importance is largely forgotten. The “Appeal” proposed a new perspective on the Cold War division of Europe. The “heretic” character of these ideas lay in 1) a perspective on the role of Germany on the European geopolitical arena that was ideologically unprejudiced and strategy-driven; 2) on the insistence of the priority of human rights and democratization over security and “peace” as they were defined in the late détente period; 3) on an unconventional attitude towards Russia, suggesting the need for a strong entanglement in the European security system, while, NATO and the Warsaw Pact should be disbanded. Through this lens, the shifts of 1989 and the reunification of Germany (1991) were expectable events. One can also argue that the emergence of OSCE in place of CSCE was a direct outcome of these “heretic geopolitics”. However, around 1993 the idea lost its political momentum, also because former dissidents lost interest in it and looked to NATO for a security framework for CE. This paper not only revisits its historical form but tries to draw lessons from it for current debates on CE foreign policy.