In recent years, the Arctic region has reappeared as a centre of world politics and attracted the interest of stakeholders from within and outside the circumpolar North. The region is literally melting and the term ‘Arctic geopolitics’ has become a popular catchphrase to illustrate the Arctic’s status quo and its allegedly fluid future. During that time the European Union also discovered its Northern neighbourhood. Concerned about an unstable Arctic region and related spill-over effects reaching Europe, the EU has shown considerable interest in having a determining influence on future regional developments. It envisioned an Arctic future alongside its own conceptualisation of world order, rule of law and good governance.
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This chapter describes the crisis that affected, in different ways, the Russian, the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian Empires at the dawn of the twentieth century, by focusing on the demands for autonomy that characterized the different national groups. Particular importance is ascribed to the multiple dynamics that affected the Baltic and Ukrainian regions within the Tsarist Empire, the role of the small independent states of the Balkans in imposing the Ottoman partition in South East Europe, as well as the strategic inspiration they drew from the Italian and German experience and, finally, the debates on national and institutional reforms within the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the assassination in Sarajevo.
The chapter offers to the reader an insightful description of opposing, sometimes overlapping, nationalist projects in Europe. Beginning from the Enlightenment, the narrative focuses first on the main makers of nationalism (ideas of freedom, group homogeneity, collective culture and standardized language, centralization). It then describes some of the most relevant personalities that influenced the debate and the praxis of national and federal strategies around Europe. A special emphasis is given to the effects that Italian and German unifications had on revolutionary aspirations of nationalist movements. Finally the chapter presents the dynamics that led to the transformation of these ideals from political opposition to state ideology and imperialism. Within this framework, the Polish-Lithuanian and the Serbo-Croatian expectations for federal or ethno-national arrangements are analysed as key examples of multiple, opposing, national projects.