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Farewell to Periphery

Vít Dostál Vít Dostál / Ed. 21. 4. 2020

Central Europe has long been struggling with its peripheral position in Europe. What exactly is the nature of this outer edge and can it be cast away? Or is self-stigmatization a part of Central European identity? Is it being used as an excuse to avoid addressing real and pressing issues?

Periphery as a Fate?

Central Europe ponders its excluded position practically non-stop, and such a narrative has remained current for the last thirty years. In 1989, we were a forgotten periphery, which struggled for the opportunity to catch up with Western Europe, and eventually became a part of the European integration project. The slogan ‘Return to Europe’, found in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, bore the symbolism of transition from undemocratic structures to rule of law, from centrally planned deprivation to prosperity and affluence.

Thirty years later, the debates show no sign of waning. We still engage in discussions about our existence on the periphery, or perhaps more precisely, our provinciality. There are two aspects that mingle here, economic and moral. It is relatively easy to ascertain if one plays the second league as far as the economy is concerned, quantify the measures needed to be taken and work on closing the divide between unevenly developed corners of Europe. The debate on the moral periphery, on the other hand, goes hand in hand with the vision of the European Union we entertain, and whether we really want to catch up with Western Europe after all.

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Original source: Farewell to Periphery

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