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By September 1998 the Western integration of the East Central European countries, with the exception of Slovakia, was in principle a decided matter. Although Nato enlargement was more specified than EU enlargement in terms of the timing and conditions of accession, both enlargement processes had, in principle, become irrevocable. The velocity with which Western integration had occurred was breathtaking if one remembered 1989–90. The economic turmoil and hyperinflation in Poland in the early 1990s, for instance, suggested a Romanian or Bulgarian future as more likely for the decade to come than the path Poland eventually took. And although the Czech Republic and Hungary enjoyed more stable economic conditions, we must not forget that their average per capita income was equally small compared to that of the EU, and that the transformation from a command to a market economy was no easy ride for them, either. After the Second World War, it had taken ten to twelve years for Western Europe’s political economy and military security to settle. In this light the ten to twelve years that it took to extend the principles of Western integration eastwards after the watershed of 1989–90 do not seem extraordinarily long.
KeywordsForeign Policy East Central German Leader German Unification German Policy
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