In the course of a reporting trip for the Daily Telegraph Magazine from the Black Sea to the Baltic, I had found that the Bulgarians talked about their country as a bridge between East and West for a thousand years, the Romanians said they were Latins at the gates of the Orient, the Hungarians talked of being the West of the East, while the Poles saw themselves - in the words of a Warsaw doctor - as "Westerners placed by geographical accident in the East".
Over dinner in Prague, the westernmost capital, I asked Dienstbier what the local expression of this urge to wester was. "We don't suffer from this East European mania about being part of the West," he said, with a laugh. "We are a Central European nation!"
(I hasten to add that I come from eastern Europe.)