- Slavic Europe
legend|#004040|Countries where a
South Slavic languageis the national language] Slavic Europe is a region of Europewhere Slavic peoplelive. This area corresponds, more or less, to East-Central, Eastern Europeand Southeastern Europe, and consists of: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the disputed territory of Transnistria, and Ukraine.
The main religions are Orthodox Christianity and
Catholicism, with large Muslim populations in some parts formerly ruled by the Ottoman Empire, as well as various constituent parts of Russia. There were also over 4 million Jewsliving in Slavic Europe until the Holocaustgreatly reduced that number and many surviving Jews emigrated to Israeland the United States. There was a large number of Jews in Slavic Eastern Europe because many Jews had been expelled during the Middle Agesfrom Christian, Western Europe. (See Christianity and anti-Semitism).
Amongst the total Slavic population of Europe, there are local Slavic minorities of
Sorbsin Germanyand Lipovansin Romania, as well as a Slovenian and Croatian minorities in Northeastern Italyand Southern Austria, and the significant Slavic diaspora in Western Europe.
The controversy of the term
The unifying term, "Slavic Europe" is considered superficial today. Among those countries deep divisions exist, based on cultural traditions, religion, history and political orientations in some cases dating back as far as
10th century. Even in the early history of Slavic people, they were divided among East, West and South Slavs with each holding various sub-groups. Further divisions lay in religion mainly between Roman Catholicismand Eastern Orthodox Churchwith the first being part of cultural identity of Western Slavs and the second being followed by East Slavs, whilst the South Slavs are a mixture of both.
The division of religion also created divisions of culture and political orientations, as Czechs integrated with German civilisation and became a part of the
Holy Roman Empire. Over time nations with West Slavic origins increasingly patterned their thought and institutions on Western models in areas of thought ranging from philosophy, artistic style, literature, and architecture to government, law, and social structure, while Eastern Slavs developed their own culture, primarily influencecd by the Byzantine Empire. For example, while Western Slavs used Latinalphabet, most East Slavs used Cyrillic(an alphabet inspired by Greek chracters).
Throughout the late Middle and early Modern Ages, many Slavs were under foreign rule. Whilst the western Slavs were dominated by German Empires, the South Slavs fell under Ottoman rule for 5 centuries, whilst the Russian Principality traces its roots from a period of Mongol rule. Such differing histories further enhanced a differential shaping of local cultures and political outlooks. In time interaction between various different nations originating from Slavic people was marked by antagonism and conflicting interests, with many groups feeling alienated from each other by their independent development and viewing the other's way of life as incomprehensible.
In the 19th century, as national ideology searched for the ancestry of ethnic groups, a movement appeared called
Pan-Slavismthat tried to unite nations of Slavic origins among common interests and develop a common identity. These efforts failed for a number of reasons, one of them being attempts of Imperial Russiato take it over in order to justify territorial expansion and the subjugation of nations of Slavic origin such as the Ukrainians or Poles, the other the fact that due to independent development from each other various antagonisms developed; and thirdly, of different interests between various groups. For example the Poles repressed the freedom of the Ukrainians both religionally and culturallyFact|date=March 2008. Also, while certain Slavic nations such as the Czechs and Slovaks in the Austro-Hungarian Empire desired Russian protection and wanted its dissolution, the Poles, comparing their Austrian partition to the Russian or Prussian one, preferred the relative freedom they had been given under Austrian rule.
Soviet Unioncame another period of attempts to use the idea of Slavic unity for political purposes, and post-war Soviet propaganda often made use of Pan-slavist ideology, while before WW II, Poland‘s repressive policy created a great deal of resentment amongst its populous Belorussian and Ukrainian minorities.
Since many countries were multiethnic for long periods of history, their current populations are mixed with people of various ethnic backgrounds. Thus the thousand years of independent development have led to the creation of various separate national identities, while history has created traditional divides, and conflicting interests.
Due to the past, historical sympathy for the idea of a Slavic identity and unity is found mostly in Russia, while in many other countries the idea is part of the fringe of politics, with people having no interest or desire for such concepts and viewing them as part of Soviet-dominated politics aimed at the area of Central and Eastern Europe. For example, when Polish people were asked in a poll to mark traits they associate with Russians, only 0.4% marked "Slavs" as an answerref|. Some people interpret this as a demonstration of how little interest the notion of Slavic origins has to the local population.
Thus besides linguistic origins and some common traditions, there is hardly any unifying political factors among countries in the region.
#Michael Fleischer: Niemcy, Europa, USA i Rosja w polskim systemie kultury, Wrocław 2004
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