Central Eastern Europe (further CEE) has been thoroughly reconstructed during nearly a quarter of century since the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the cold war. The CEE countries turned to the West for economic and technological advancement, for political and administrative models as well as for protection. The authors coming from eight different countries look at the place and role of the former member states of the Warsaw Pact in the new European and international constellation. This concept of CEE includes most pro-western states of the former ‘Eastern block’: the four countries of Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) and the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia). There were many tumultuous political developments in and around the region within the last decade, and especially during the last five years when the financial crisis started to take its toll. While the Atlantic link of Central and Eastern Europe is still strong, many commentators have pointed out its wearing strategic meaning. The balance between the focus on the USA and the EU has shifted in favour of Europe. However, this shift has rather been an incomplete one due to the region’s own political and economic problems. The aim of this special issue is to analyse the new constellation by looking at the CEE countries themselves, at their ability to react and adapt, produce sound political strategies and act on as national actors: through bilateral ties, regional co-operation, NATO and the EU. Also, the main external actors - the USA, Russia and Germany - are looked at as they directly influence the way how the CEE countries shape their policies.

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