After 1989, Eastern Europe became the poster child for liberal democracy. One after another, the countries in the region replaced their Communist systems with new market economies, alongside democratic structures. After many years of difficult “transition”—high unemployment, industrial collapse, rural dislocation—the countries in the region all began to stabilize as they approached the close of… Continue reading Eastern Europe Marches Right
IT HAS BEEN THE FATE of Central and Eastern Europe — that wedge of territory between what was once the Soviet Union to the east and the European Community to the west — to wrestle with its own “abnormality.” For nearly five decades, the region experienced varying degrees of Soviet-style Communism, from the relatively liberal… Continue reading Eastern Europe: Return to Normality?
Many European organizations, the Open Society Foundation among them, have put a great deal of money and energy into addressing the issue of Roma. Some progress has been made. Roma parliamentarians, business people, journalists, lawyers, and academics have for instance pushed for equal rights for the Roma minority in their respective countries. They are the… Continue reading The Rubik’s Cube of Roma Rights
It’s often said that anti-Semitism continues to exist in Poland even in the absence of a large Jewish community. The recent Polish film Aftermath, about a farmer who uncovers the terrible truth about his village’s treatment of its Jewish community during World War II, makes that point vividly and tragically. The same can be said… Continue reading Islamophobia in East-Central Europe
Vladimir Putin, the wily strategist of Russian revanchism, is well on his way to reconstructing the Warsaw Pact. That, at least, is what the pundits of The Washington Post are making it out to seem. Last week, Jackson Diehl penned a column on how Putin has driven a wedge between NATO and its easternmost members. Anne Applebaum, meanwhile, pins the… Continue reading NATO: Rebellion in the Ranks?
Romania has 275 kilometers of Black Sea coastline. The country tries to attract tourists by touting its sandy beaches, temperate climate, spas, and resort hotels. It’s tough competition. I met a couple of Romanians who said straight out that they prefer to vacation along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. And Turkey is a more popular destination… Continue reading Romania’s Resort Tourism
Europe underwent a profound transformation in the 16th century with the Protestant reformation. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and their co-religionists attacked the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church and its corrupt practices. They also advocated a different, more direct relationship between the individual and God. They were aided by the new technology of the printing press,… Continue reading The Populist Reformation
If you were of a certain age and with certain skills, the changes that took place in 1989 in East-Central Europe created an enormous world of opportunity. Those young enough to change with the times could suddenly rise to the heights of politics and business. And if you spoke English – or were willing to… Continue reading The Goldilocks Generation
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Today, Europe has left war behind. In place of jostling empires, there is the European Union, a modern family beset by the usual bickering but nothing that a smothering bureaucracy can’t handle. Even Sarajevo, where the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked world… Continue reading The Greatest Threat to Europe
I once asked someone that I was re-interviewing here in East-Central Europe how he would compare his life back in 1988 with his life today. He looked at me as if I were crazy. “Of course it was better then!” he exclaimed. “It was better under Communism?” He laughed. “No, it was better when I… Continue reading The Lost Treasure of Revolutions