In 1989-1990 the Communist regimes of the Central and East European countries collapsed. This was followed by a rapid disintegration of the "Soviet bloc" composed of COMECON and the Warsaw Treaty Organization. In the end the creator and maintainer of these international organizations, the Soviet Union itself disappeared from the global map.Central and East European countries, escaping the yoke of the Eastern Power, are making every effort to establish new relations with the West, namely, the EU and NATO, while promoting sub-regional cooperation and reforming relations with the former Soviet countries under new conditions. The dynamic transformation of international relations in this area was the main theme of the annual international symposium held by the Slavic Research Center of Hokkaido University in July 1996 at Sapporo. The parpers and comments published in this volume were presented at this symposium, which was entitled "The Emerging New Regional Order in Central and Eastern Europe." It should be noted that some parpers were revised after the symposium but the discussants for these parpers could not revise their comments they made at symposium for lack of time. This symposium is part of two ongoing research projects financed by Monbusho, or the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture. One is the Priority Research Project (1995-1997) entitled "Changes in the Slavic-Eurasian World: Conditions for Existence and Coexistence," and the other is the research project entitled "Changes of Regional Relations in East Central Europe" in the framework of the International Scientific Research Program (1996-97). In addition, the grant for international symposia of Monbusyo's "COE Program" made it possible for us to invite foreign participants to Sapporo. I would like to thank Junji Yatabe, a research fellow of the SRC, who carried the task of communicating with participants at home and abroad in preparation for the symposium; and Tomoko Fujita, another research fellow of the SRC, who spent endless hours editing and formatting the parpers of thie volume. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mark Holst and Cynthia Ann Brown for correcting the English of parpers written by non-native speakers of English. I am also indebted to Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University, a foreign visiting fellow of the SRC, who not only undertook to be a discuccant in the symposium, but also kindly helped us with copy-editing.
|Sapporo, March 1997|