November 1997 - According to Jan Vanous, through 1996 the Czech Republic was "the darling of the Western economic and financial community." In 1995-96, the economy was growing at a satisfactory rate, the inflation rate was low, privatization seemed nearly complete, and the government kept a tight rein on spending. The national unemployment rate was no more than 3.5 percent, with the figure for Prague being just .2 percent. A joke going around the Czech Republic was that, in some respects, the Czechs should teach the West how to run a market economy.
February 2001- The Black Sea, in many ways, is back. Neal Ascherson's evocative travel book, Black Sea (1995), sparked new interest among travelers to Crimea, the Caucasus, and the northern coast of Turkey. The Black Sea Trade Project at the University of Pennsylvania promises to uncover new archaeological evidence of the connections among Greek trading colonies around the sea's rim, as well as of ancient settlements long since covered by the sea's waters. Then there is news that the great deluge of Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh may actually have had its origins perhaps 8,000 years ago or so, when a great freshwater lake joined with the salty Mediterranean to form the strange ecological system of the Black Sea.
September 2000 - The bureaucracy and rhetoric surrounding the year-old Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe have grown apace, but there have been few tangible results so far. Western nations and eastern Europe alike are poised, waiting to see if the pact can live up to its goals and promises.
November 2004 - Over the past 15 years, a fascinating experiment has taken place in Europe regarding the codification of minority rights. As communism collapsed in 1989, several ethnic conflicts broke out in the Caucuses and Balkans, and commentators feared that ethnic violence would spiral out of control throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In response, Western democracies decided to "internationalize" the treatment of national minorities in postcommunist Europe, creating a pan-European regime to monitor whether countries are meeting European standards in the treatment of their minorities. Some of these standards have been formulated by the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)–a position established in 1993. Other standards were formulated by the Council of Europe (COE) in its 1995 "Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities." Complying with these OSCE and COE standards is required for countries to ‘join the West,' and in particular to join the European Union (EU) and NATO.