SSRC Fellow Tsveta Petrova

From Recipients to Donors: New Europe Promotes Democracy in the Neighborhood

Current Position: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harriman Institute, Columbia University

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Abstract:
I unravel the puzzle of the quick turnaround by the Eastern European members of the EU from being primarily democracy promotion targets in the 1990s to democracy promoters in the 2000s by examining why and how the Eastern European governmental and non-state actors have supported democratization abroad. 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 maintain 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 to apply the benefits of having democratic international partners in order to create a favorable and congenial international environment for the survival of their new democratic states. Moreover, there are distinct Eastern European national approaches to democracy promotion that vary according to the regime types of the recipient; still, such assistance often includes best practices that were Western imports in support of the democratization of the Eastern EU members. And while established democracies are said to often export replicas of their own political institutions, the young democracies seek to export not democracy models but rather democratization models.