Given the migration issues in Europe and increased tension with Russia and EU, this course will discuss the implications of the migration crisis as well as prospective countries who are being tossed to and fro by the competition for influence between Russia and the EU. A BBC story reported that “The EU's Eastern Partnership is designed to improve trade and political relations with six former Soviet Republics - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine - caught in that awkward space between the European Union and Russia.” However, only Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia have accepted this offer and others have been torn with their dependency on Russia and have so far declined. So the story of the Europe and the EU is as alive today as it was when many Central and Eastern European countries were joining the EU from May 2004 to July 2013.
Eight countries of CEE (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) along with Malta and Cyprus joined the EU on May 1, 2004, Bulgaria and Romania joined on January 1, 2007. Croatia joined to make it the EU-28 on July 1st, 2013. Turkey, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia (Candidate Countries) and Iceland are working on the process, and Albania plus Bosnia and Herzegovina are aspiring to be Candidate Countries. Others like Ukraine are caught in the geopolitical battle between EU and Russia and are unlikely to ever be EU members. Meanwhile some analysts say that “enlargement fatigue” is already evident and some member countries want to slow or stop it. With faculty and visitors of various disciplines, course participants will study and evaluate a profound historic process for these countries and their citizens. Students will gain an understanding of the historical, political and economic backgrounds of CEEs, their achievements in building democratic and market economy institutions during their transition to EU accession, and the challenges they face in the process of integration and convergence within the EU.
This “new transition” occurs to some degree in all spheres of society,--political systems, economic structures and policies, culture and education, technology, agriculture, industry, external political and economic relations, and legal systems. The class will provide faculty discussion leaders on different aspects of the ongoing transition. Students are encouraged to explore in greater depth a country and disciplinary issue in which they have special interest or expertise. Each student will conduct independent research and write a research paper on a topic relevant to the seminar content and will lead the class in two discussions of the paper during the semester.
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