National identity is constructed through successive identifications with significant Others. This article discusses the phenomenon of change and continuity in Czech identity. It is focused here on the identification towards the EU, which has become the most significant Other of today in two ways: (a) (change) contributing to overcoming the identity crisis provoked by the drastic changes that occurred between 1989 and 1993 (change of regime, disappearance of the USSR and the break-up of Czechoslovakia), and therefore the subsequent drastic changes in relations with past significant Others: communism, the USSR, and the Slovaks; and (b) (continuity) reaffirming one of the fundamental elements during the national revival in the nineteenth century, democracy, upon which the various identifications towards the EU have been aligned. According to the differing interpretations of what democracy means, and three other criteria of the “levels of Othering,” the EU has been “imagined,” on the one hand, as an entity where Czechs can flourish in their identity and ensure their freedom and democratic values (positive Other), and, on the other, as an “oppressor” entity which portrays democratic deficit, restricts freedom, and threatens Czech national identity (negative Other).
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