The fall of communism brought the market economy and free election to Eastern and Central Europe. However, in an interview with the German Marshall Fund on May 31, Kateryna Pishchikova, Junior Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy, comments that multi party systems and regular elections have not democratized former Warsaw Pact nations, because civil liberty and the rule of law are not guaranteed. She says that post communism regimes in those regions are something between Western democracy and Russo-Chinese autocracy, and calls them hybrid regimes.
The growth of hybrid regimes shows that the collapse of communist states has not led New Europe to become stable democracies. Instead, the rise of a new type of regimes erodes the legitimacy of promoting Western styled democracy. NATO and the EU has not succeeded in transforming them to real democracies at this stage.
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Pishchikova’s viewpoints have global implications for regional integration, as free trade and democracy are key agendas beyond Europe. The European Union adopted the Copenhagen Criteria in 1993 to set the standard for new members to join the group, regarding human rights and the rule of law. Such criteria should be a guideline to help new comers improve their performance, rather than a bar to reject applicants bidding the membership.
Think of real meaning of regional integration from European experience.