After almost a decade of long and intense negotiations, Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) have finally been firmly anchored in the West. Their most important foreign policy goals - membership in the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been achieved in the wake of the new millennium. But just as the region appears poised to realise this historical triumph, new and dark clouds have appeared on the horizon.
The paradox is that just as Central and Eastern Europeans arrived at their final destination in the West, the Western Alliance which they have worked so hard to join increasingly appears in disarray. The aim of this paper is thus to look at this new situation through the perspective of the CEEC. Assessing the presumed rift between the security outlooks of the so-called ‘old' and ‘new' EU and NATO member states, which stems in part due to their different approaches towards the United States in general and American leadership in the region in particular, it sheds a new light on the concept of the Atlanticism looking beyond the traditional explanations (such as recent historical experience and CEEC's ‘debt of gratitude').
Using the analysis of the small states and drawing on the findings of a realist theory in international relations this paper introduces an alternative way to approach and explain foreign policy behaviour of CEEC. As a result, it demonstrates that initially prescribed pro-Americanism of "new" Europeans is often misinterpreted and that a real picture may indeed be much more complex than conventional wisdom of convenience suggests.