Twenty years ago the democratic revolutions in East and Central Europe prompted the first great-power retreat in the continent since the end of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of Russian troops, supported by generous German funding, decamped for home, to be followed by many more after the Soviet Union itself collapsed. And while imperial nostalgia lingers still, the Kremlin has had to accommodate itself to the new reality. The tentative and ragged sphere of influence that remains is a shadow of what once was, writes Mary Dejevsky.

That was one chapter. But are we now, I wonder, watching the second half of the post-war retreat from Europe, that of the other great victor, the United States? Of course, the withdrawal is less military or imperial than Russia's – the majority of the US troops have been reassigned over the years – nor is it enforced. It seems more to reflect a lack of interest. Barack Obama's America has other fish to fry. But could it be that Washington's European age is drawing to a close? And if it is, what might it mean?

I ask these questions after a weekend spent in Istanbul at the annual Bosphorus Conference, organised by the British Council, the European Commission and Turkey's foreign policy institute, TESEV. For the EU side, this meeting is a chance to gauge the state of our sometimes fractious relations with Turkey. For the Turkish side, it offers a forum to vent frustration with the obstacles Brussels strews in its path. Read full article in the Independent...