As a medium-sized power in strategic proximity to east central Europe, Italy has sought a special role in the region following the collapse of Communist regimes there. Building on historical traditions and cultural affinities, Italy has drawn on its newly acquired economic power and important position within the European Union to develop an "Eastern" policy, for example, as originator of the Pentagonale project for regional cooperation. As a result, Italy has often been perceived by east central Europeans as a key country in their efforts to become more closely integrated with western Europe. More recently, however, both ethnic strife in the region and the collapse of Italy's own political establishment have cast doubt on the country's ability to play the role that many east central Europeans as well as Italians hope it can assume in the future European order. In this timely volume, leading European and U.S. experts examine the multifaceted dimensions of what has been in many ways a unique relationship in contemporary Europe.
Preface -- Italy and East Central Europe: The Legacy of History -- East Central Europe in Post-World War I Italian Diplomacy -- East Central Europe and the Italian Communist Party -- Italy and Ethnic Strife in Central and Southeastern Europe -- Italy, East Central Europe, and the European Union -- Italy and East Central Europe: The Perspective of 1992