From Recipients To Donors: New Europe Supports Democratization In The Neighborhood

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Supporting the diffusion of democratic norms and practices around the globe has become a significant element of the security and foreign policies of many developed countries and of the operation of many international governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Therefore, a better understanding of this phenomenon is important; yet much of our knowledge about it comes from studying the activities of a handful of established Western democracies. Would fledgling non-Western democracies support democratization abroad? What would motivate such efforts, and how would they be undertaken? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these young democracy promoters, and how do their efforts compare with the activities of the established Western democracy promoters? I answer these questions by unraveling the puzzle of the quick turnaround by the Eastern European members of the EU from being primarily recipients of democracy promotion in the 1990s to promoters of democracy in the 2000s. The dissertation examines the activities of the Eastern European governmental and non-governmental actors supporting democratization abroad both bilaterally and through the EU. I argue that the local civic elites who prepared the democratic breakthroughs in the region subsequently became the norm entrepreneurs who championed the incorporation of democracy promotion into their country's foreign policy and then continued to advocate for keeping support for democracy abroad high on the agenda. I further find that the Eastern European civic activists have been motivated by a normative commitment to democracy, while the Eastern European official efforts are best understood as strategic foreign policy commitments. Despite their reputation as "idealist donors," the Eastern European governments have supported democracy abroad primarily to create a secure and stable international environment for their states. Moreover, both governmental and nongovernmental approaches to supporting democratization abroad have been based on strategic calculations about the pragmatic usefulness (rather than the normative appropriateness) of their transition experiences to the recipients' democratization needs. While Western donors are said to export models of democracy based on their domestic institutions, the Eastern European donors have promoted democratizaion recipes tested in their own recent transitions and selected to fit the needs of their recipients. In contrast to the Western one-size-fits-all and institution-centric approaches, the Eastern European approaches to democracy promotion vary according to the regime type of the recipient and pay more attention to the process of liberalization. Therefore, although they are young donors, the Eastern European democracies represent a new generation of democracy promoters that have avoided some of the mistakes for which Western donors have been criticized.

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democratization; democracy promotion; Eastern Europe; foreign policy; security; civil society; transnationalism


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Union Local


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Bunce, Valerie Jane

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Tarrow, Sidney G
Evangelista, Matthew Anthony

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Ph. D., Government

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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