Geographia Polonica (2018) vol. 91, iss. 1

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Border politics in Central Europe: Hungary and the role of national scale and nation-building

James Wesley Scott

Geographia Polonica (2018) vol. 91, iss. 1, pp. 17-32
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0101

Abstract

This essay focuses attention on aspects of border politics that give evidence of nation-building and national consolidation processes in Central Europe. In a normative, policy-oriented sense this is a question of borders as framing conditions for regional development. In a more critical and analytical sense this involves interrogating the actual use of borders in politically and ideologically framing national interests within a wider Europeancontext. The essay begins with a brief discussion of Europeanisation processes understood in terms of the promotion of cross-border cooperation (CBC) in Central Europe. Here, the significance of national structural conditions for implementation of Cohesion and regional policies and hence CBC will be discussed. One result that emerges is that while EU-European principles of cross-border cooperation have been partly mainstreamed into regional development policies they have at the same time been superimposed by the domestication of EU policies in the interest of nation-building. More specific evidence is then provided by Hungarian experience where national scale and nation-building have played key roles in conditioning the quality of cross-border cooperation and in the framing of state borders as resources. Attention will focus on: (1) Hungarian exploitation of CBC in the service of ethnopolitical development objectives and (2) Hungary’s recent policy of border securitisation which essentially entails a re-nationalisation of its border regime and a framing of the physical border as a protective barrier against threats to national and European identity.

Keywords: Central Europe, Hungary, borders, border politics, national scale, cross-border cooperation

James Wesley Scott [james.scott@uef.fi], Karelian Institute University of Eastern Finland Yliopistokatu 2, FI-80100 Joensuu: Finland; Department of Economic Geography University of Gdańsk Bażyńskiego 4, 80-309 Gdańsk: Poland