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?
When I traveled through Yugoslavia in 1990, a number of people confessed their fears to me. They were worried about the rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia with Slobodan Milosevic. They were concerned about the economic situation – the high level of national debt, the overall stagnation, the persistent gap between the more prosperous northern… Continue reading Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?
The European Union is currently facing several existential challenges. The recent parliamentary election in Greece resulted in the victory of a political party that rejects the austerity measures the EU and the IMF have insisted on as a condition for bailing out the Greek economy. The debt-ridden country is now on the verge of a… Continue reading The Fragility of Federalism
Diaspora communities played a major role in feeding the fires of conflict in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Paul Hockenos detailed in his book Homeland Calling, émigré communities of Serbs, Croats, Kosovars and others supported nationalist leaders, funded guerrilla armies, returned to fight in the wars and serve in the new governments, and even… Continue reading Guilt as Destiny
Last May, a terrible set of storms swept through Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Croatia. More than 70 people died during the ensuing flooding, and nearly a million people had to be evacuated. Tens of thousands are still living in temporary shelters. There’s a new fundraising effort to link up people who experienced Hurricane Katrina in… Continue reading Blues for the Balkans
The wars in former Yugoslavia led to an enormous displacement of people. Even before the war broke in Bosnia, nearly 300,000 refugees from that multi-confessional region flooded into Croatia. As the wars spread and the refugee flow increased, the Bosniaks – Bosnians from a Muslim background – usually treated Croatia as a transit point to… Continue reading Starting Over Again in Croatia
The success of the free market reforms that took place in East-Central Europe after 1989 was predicated to a large degree on the rule of law. The privatization of state assets, for instance, required a high degree of transparency and a strong set of regulations. Otherwise corrupt individuals and groups could easily vacuum up the… Continue reading The Misrule of Law
It has been commonplace to use the term “transition” when referring to what took place in East-Central Europe in the years immediately following 1989. The term initially had a refreshing vagueness to it. So much was up in the air. So much was changing. The fixed certainties of the past had melted away. At the… Continue reading This Is Not a Transition
Yugoslavia fell apart in stages, and violence accompanied each of these stages. The first war was brief, a ten-day standoff between the Yugoslav Army and Slovenian forces in the summer of 1991, and there were few casualties. The Milosevic government in Serbia was not happy with Slovenia’s secession, but the Serbian population there was miniscule… Continue reading Addressing War Crimes