hidden europe 7

Defining Europe

by Nicky Gardner


Is Armenia part of Europe? Of course, we say, as we explore the boundaries of our continent. But how should we define Europe?

Publish anything, and you inevitably stick your neck out! There is little doubt that, in this issue, the article which might offend geographical sensitivities is the preceding one on Armenia. For is Armenia Europe? And, if not, then does an Armenian essay, albeit one with a German component, warrant a place in hidden europe? These are not questions that admit of any easy answer.

Look at the forty six nation states which are members of the Council of Europe and Armenia (along with its two neighbours in the Caucasus, Georgia and Azerbaijan) is certainly there. Armenia was admitted to membership of the Council of Europe five years ago, at the same time as Azerbaijan. Georgia had joined two years earlier.

Of course, being a member of the Council of Europe is not all there is to being European. Few would question Monaco's European credentials and yet, somewhat surprisingly, it turns out to be the newest member of the Council of Europe. It only joined the organisation in October 2004. And two states which are unequivocally European are still not affiliated to the Council of Europe: the Republic of Belarus and The Holy See (Vatican City).

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We start with a dubious attribution, a few words allegedly uttered by the Austrian diplomat and politician Count Metternich. And we end with the Ukrainian poet and dramatist Lesya Ukrainka in Georgia. In between, we discover that Asia is a state of mind – a place of the imagination that always lies away to the east.

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