THE EASTERN BORDER OF A RELUCTANT EMPIRE
What are borders? From the many possible de nitions, borders emerge as formal delimitations between collective subjective entities - identities in the fortunate cases - politically organized in states or equivalents. As such, their importance is twofold: political, as they stand as protectors of one set of laws and regulations, and not another; and symbolic, as they guard certain customs and norms, and therefore cultural identity. Both roles make borders indispensable, as collectives cannot do without identity, albeit conventional, and cultural anomie is unhealthy. Yet in both endeavors, borders are vulnerable and increasingly harder to sustain in times of unprecedented movement of ideas, people and capitals.
The EU's 1999 Helsinki summit made the historical decision to set an eastern border to Europe. It included the Baltic States, Turkey, two Balkan countries - Romania and Bulgaria - and left out Ukraine, Serbia, Moldova and others, with more or less similar legitimate claims and assumed identities. For some Eastern Europe states, Helsinki was the best news in a century otherwise quite poor in historic opportunities. For others, it signaled being left out in the cold. Still, turning this line drawn on a map in Brussels into a border for Europe is not such a simple undertaking, even assuming it is the right one. The challenges to the eastern border of Europe are tremendous, and enlargement policies may well stop short of securing what Europe was seeking in the rst place: peace, security and prosperity on the eastern frontier.
Where Europe Ends [1.7M PDF]