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Cold war

Margaret Thatcher was a major political figure of the end of the Cold War era, who is still surrounded by much controversy today. There are two main reasons for this: she openly pursued an alternative vision of Europe at a time when federalism was still the dominant discourse; and she called for the liberalisation of the Eastern bloc, rather than its disintegration.
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Economic borders are as powerful as political and military ones, though they are limited by the systemic interdependence of States which, in a world as interconnected as ours is, can produce varied and unexpected outcomes.
The recent crisis over refugees is a valuable reminder of a dark past that Europeans often like to forget. In so many ways, especially since the end of the Cold War, Europeans have celebrated human rights as their most impressive contribution to world affairs. It was tempting to see, rather than the fundamental European contributions of capitalism and power politics, human rights as most expressive of the continent’s spirit. The truth, of course, is otherwise.
The Atlantic Wall’s fight today is no longer against the Allies, but against nature. From World War to Cold War to global warming. Bunkers have had a lot to endure in recent years. Dunes disappear under them, at times reducing them to breakwaters.
In European history, borders have had an importance unknown to other civilisations. Whereas in the Islamic, Indian and Chinese worlds the norm has been that of a formal or informal Empire that controlled the whole region, in the Old Continent, since at least the XV Century, the norm has been a more anarchic and pluralistic situation, in which various greater and lesser powers coexisted with one another.
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In March 2014 Europeans woke up in Putin’s world. They suddenly realised that they couldn’t take peace for granted any more. So, how should European leaders get Russia right? How should they make sense of the Kremlin’s attack on the European order? Is this a new Cold War, is this the old one, is Russia’s aggressive behaviour to be read in the terms of classical geopolitics or is Moscow’s new conservative ideology behind Russia’s annexation of Crimea?

The possibility of a crisis of European democracy truly does exist then, but whether it comes about or not is dependent upon the way in which the current historical constellation of crises within European democracy play out. The best way to guard against it in the meantime is to provoke a series of democratic confrontations around such specific issues as inequality, migrants’ rights, budget reform, and the need for economic and social rights to be prioritised alongside political rights.