Small States in the Modern World

Small States in the Modern World

Vulnerabilities and Opportunities

Edited by Harald Baldersheim and Michael Keating

Small States in the Modern World comprehensively assesses the different modes of adaptation by small states in response to the security and economic vulnerabilities posed by global change. It uses a diverse collection of case studies to explore the complexities of change and to place them in their temporal and geographical context.

Chapter 5: Small if needed, big if necessary: small member states and the EU’s diplomatic system in Kiev

Jozef Bátora

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, urban and regional studies, regional studies


Traditionally, small states in international relations face the danger of dominance by large states. Hence, in general, small states thrive in international orders based on rules, norms, institutions and international regimes which tame large states in their potential of arbitrary power projection (Katzenstein 1985; Thorhallsson 2006; Steinmetz and Wivel 2010; Baldersheim and Bátora 2012b). Being small has also several advantages. As Michael Keating argues in Chapter 1, small states are more agile in adapting to a changing international environment than large states. This has to do with their ability to gather relevant stakeholders and policy makers more effectively than large states; there may also be less distance between societal groups, and it is more likely that a small state society is characterized by a shared sense of a common destiny. In foreign policy, this sense allows a small state to develop joint positions on international issues more readily than many large states. This capacity of small states as such does not outweigh the challenges of potential dominance by larger entities in international relations, as the latter usually have larger power resources at their disposal. One of the ways in which small states in Europe outweigh the relative disadvantages of their small size while keeping the advantages has been membership in the EU.

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