Western leaders want to enhance the security of Eastern Europe, but the project confronts them with several knotty questions. What are the legitimate security needs of the region? How do these compare with East European perceptions of security needs? And how can the West seek to meet these real and perceived needs without endangering existing organizations, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Community (EC)?
In answering these questions, a key step lies in understanding the belief, widespread among East Europeans, that a “security vacuum” exists in their region. A second step is to examine the actions East European regimes have taken to improve their security situations. The third and final step is to draw appropriate conclusions for the West’s role in providing for security in East Europe.