The article examines the so-called Eastern enlargement of the European Union from the point of view of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Although they joined the EU at the same time, the experience of both states is diverse. The author argues that the chief obstacles on the “way back to Europe” were not so much the implementation of the acquis, but internal political weakness and unsatisfactory public discourse on the merits of joining the the EU. Slovakia, with its incorporation into the second wave of candidate countries due to its unacceptable political situation during Meciar’s government, is used as the best exemplar of the political weakness. The Czech Republic illustrates, with its initial sense of exceptionalism that turned into nationalistic-populist rhetoric of political parties’ leaders and eventually mounted into relatively low level of “yes-votes” in the closing referendum, represents the poor public discourse. Methodologically, the author analyses discursive interactions and institutional capacity using an actor-centered approach.
Czech Republic; Slovakia; Czechoslovakia; EU; accession; public discourse
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