In the wake of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, “Europe whole, free and secure” was not just a vision. It became a successful policy leading to the consolidation of democracy in Central Europe and, with the region’s integration into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), the end of a divided continent.
This outcome was neither easy nor obvious. Turning the collapse of the communist system into a triumph of free market democracies in Central Europe required leadership both within the countries of the region and in the West. Central European leaders had to make tough decisions and enact painful reforms in order to transform their societies. At the same time, North American and West European leaders had to be courageous and visionary to invest in these reform processes and then to welcome these nations into Europe’s great institutions.