Eastern Europe Events

Challenges for Romania's Democratic Consolidation: Assessing the 2009 Presidential Elections

January 27, 2010 // 11:00am12:00pm
Global Europe Program
The Romanian presidential elections held last fall provoked accusations of mudslinging, electoral fraud and, most recently, even interference by the occult. Vladimir Tismaneanu offered to bring this debate back to solid ground by presenting his assessment of Romania's path to democracy. Although he found no evidence of the occult, Tismaneanu did point to some idiosyncrasies of the party system in the country as well as what he called the "baroque" coalitions that are characteristic not only of Romanian politics but also of other post-communist European democracies.

Banning Headscarves in Bulgaria: Reflections on the Debate over Religious Symbols in Public Schools

January 14, 2010 // 11:00am12:00pm
Global Europe Program
n Europe, the issue of headscarves has the power to expose a variety of social cleavages because it instantly provokes strong stances on matters such as national identity, religion, gender and human rights. This issue also reflects the way in which states set priorities within the broad category of human rights they are obliged to protect. Through her analysis of headscarf bans in Bulgarian schools, Kristen Ghodsee illustrated how a young postcommunist democracy has attempted to create a coherent policy on headscarves while balancing its commitments to multiple constituencies in the US, its fellow EU member states as well as its own diverse population.

Support for Democracy From Poland to Serbia to Georgia: The Role of Supranational Identity, International Institutions, and Soft Power

December 09, 2009 // 11:00am12:00pm
Global Europe Program
Competing democratization theories analyze various factors—such as economic development, history, culture, or elite inclination—to determine the propensity of a particular state to become democratic. Each of these theories has distinct policy implications for external democracy promoters. Ryan Kennedy suggested another factor, based on social identity theory, which posits that diplomacy figures much more prominently in democracy promotion than current practice would suggest.
Webcast

10th Annual Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

December 09, 2009 // 9:00am10:00am
Global Europe Program
Mirek Topolanek remarked that, at the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the democratic development of the Czech Republic is entering uncharted territory. To date, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have been governed democratically for a record 20 years. Although the legend of Tomas Masaryk is often remembered as the golden age of democratic thought, the first and second republics proved to be only an intermediate step to the authoritarian Communist period. "Twenty years is just the ‘half time,'" Topolanek argued, and the next two decades should be spent ensuring that the new generations continue to appreciate the sacrifices their parents made for freedom and democracy.

From Recipient to Donor: New Europe Promotes Democracy in the Neighborhood

November 18, 2009 // 11:00am12:00pm
Global Europe Program
During his first official trip to Europe representing the new administration, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden highlighted the importance of re-energizing democracy promotion efforts in East Europe. Yet, since the postcommunist transition began 20 years ago, not only the methods but also the actors involved in democracy promotion have changed considerably. Most strikingly, postcommunist countries that have been relatively successful in their own transitions to democracy have emerged as key players in democracy promotion in the Western Balkans and former Soviet states. Tsveta Petrova identified these new actors, analyzed their motivations, and characterized the methods they use to promote democracy beyond their own borders.

The Impact of Global Crisis on Transition Countries With Special Regard to the Western Balkans

November 17, 2009 // 11:00am12:00pm
Global Europe Program
While the economic crisis that began in 2008 has had a global reach, the pain of the crisis has been disproportionately felt in the postcommunist transition countries generally, and in the Western Balkans in particular. Former WWICS public policy scholar Franjo Stiblar offered the simple explanation that poor countries, with their higher income inequality and high unemployment, are fated to feel the effects of the economic crisis more strongly. In addition to being relatively poor, the countries of the Western Balkans were particularly vulnerable to the crisis due to extremely high external debt to GDP ratios and high foreign currency reserves. Their economic performance also contributed to the countries' vulnerability to the crisis, since as Stiblar indicated, the region performs elastically in reaction to the global market, such that a global downturn spurred an even deeper downturn in the Western Balkans.

Reaching Out at a Time of Economic Crisis: External Anchors and Internal Dynamics in the Western Balkans

October 21, 2009 // 12:00pm1:00pm
Global Europe Program
The celebration of two anniversaries that are being held in Europe this—the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago and the first EU enlargement to postcommunist Europe five years ago—is being tempered by a deep and widespread economic recession. This recession has been disproportionately felt in the Western Balkans, Jens Bastian argued, which has obscured the path these countries are working hard to follow into the EU.

Serbian Foreign Policy and the Possibility of Cooperation within the Western Balkan Region

October 02, 2009 // 10:00am11:00am
Global Europe Program
Recent surveys indicate that public support for the Serbian Progressive Party (SPP), which split from the Serb Radical Party last fall, has grown steadily, and is now at the heels of the Democratic Party, which leads the current government. SPP Party leader Aleksandar Vucic, explained the young party's foreign policy strategy at a Wilson Center noon discussion.

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