Europe’s Non-European Europeans

Russia has always been historically separate from the Western European tradition and from the nation-state civilization that emerged after the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. However, this division was far from absolute, and human rights, openness, and democratic values should be genuinely shared as a means to achieve a true partnership.

Nation-states are built on ethnic and territorial unity, and their histories and political development are grounded in a sense of collective identity. Empires emerge when a national group considers its existence inside its territorial borders either risky or ineffective, and embarks on a forced expansion that is usually connected with large-scale violence.

Western Europe found another route for its development only after WWII, when Hitlerism lay in the past but Stalinism posed a very present danger. Western European intellectuals realized that both nationalism and imperialism were unacceptable approaches to state-building, and that European stability required a union of nations that could and should expand, but that would never be transformed into an empire.

Western Europe’s political elite was quick to adopt this position, and America’s “Euro-Atlantic” political thinking, together with the Marshall Plan, contributed to it decisively. The Treaty of Rome, together with the establishment of the Council of Europe, embodied a legal, economic, and political – but mostly a philosophical – breakthrough.

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