Eastern Europe lacks cohesion partly arising from a history of ethnic tension. Ways are now being found to overcome historic conflicts over alternative political structures, as the enlargement of membership for European institutions requires greater equality of rights at the same time as support and security is extended. Thus while ethnicity, as a political, social and cultural entity, persists in Eastern Europe as an essential element at the local level, it is now being seen more positively as cultural diversity and thus more compatible with democracy and a positive asset to national well-being. Multi-ethnic states are proving to be viable and some of the most intractable inter-ethnic problems (linked with the Hungarian minorities) are being addressed constructively. Yet there are signs that the southern part of the region is being marginalised regarding foreign investment. Also there is unease that European values are not being embraced unconditionally in parts of the Balkans. Recent military intervention has created fresh problems, committing the West to continued economic and political support to strengthen its stance on democracy and minority rights.

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