Europe Publications

300. The Slovak Presidential Elections: The Final Defeat of Meciarism?

Jul 07, 2011
June 2004 - Despite Slovakia's remarkable progress in political and economic reforms since 1998, considerable alarm was raised last April when, just weeks before the country's accession to the European Union (EU), it appeared that the very man who was blamed for Slovakia's international isolation in the mid-1990s could win the presidency. While serving as prime minister, Vladimir Meciar's controversial political and economic policies prevented Slovakia from joining the first wave of countries to accede to NATO and from starting accession negotiations with the EU. Meciar ultimately failed in the second round of the presidential elections, but the high level of popular support he continues to enjoy remains a subject of concern. Still, as those elections demonstrated, the prospect of Meciar's return to high politics appears unlikely, given the polarizing effect he has on the Slovak population and the reluctance of other politicians to cooperate with him. In addition, signs of "Meciarism," characterized by the use of populism, nationalism and clientelism as ways of winning and maintaining political support, appear to be diminishing on the political scene. The future of Meciar and Meciarism clearly depends not so much on Meciar himself but on his competitors and their ability to move society forward. more

45. The Bulgarian Economy: Transition in the Transition

Jul 07, 2011
The general elections of December 1994 marked a turning point in the Bulgarian transition. The victory of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) was part of a common trend across Eastern Europe. At the same time, the change in the political landscape produced an important shift in the orientation of economic policy. This paper focuses on three issues: a general overview of the macroeconomic developments of 1991-95, selected problems related to privatization, and some aspects of the external background to the Bulgarian transition. A final section assesses the economic policy of the new BSP government and its further prospects. more

Fighting Poverty and Reforming Social Security: What Can Post-Soviet States Learn From the New Democracies of Central Europe?

Jul 07, 2011
Conference proceedings from a meeting held in Washington, DC, June 10, 2005. After decades of communist rule, reforming social policies and welfare state institutions turned out to be much more difficult and complex than previously anticipated. Regional trends emerged. Most Central European democracies introduced significant institutional reforms in social security, while changing social assistance programs to fight risks associated with poverty. In contrast, many post-Soviet states are still struggling to provide modernized and reliable welfare state protections to the elderly, the disabled and the poor during the prolonged era of political and economic transformation. This one-day conference convened international scholars and policy practitioners to examine patterns of welfare state development in select post-communist states and to analyze how national histories, international actors, domestic institutional contexts and the interdependence of recent social, economic and political reforms have contributed to differences in social policies and welfare state provision. Conference participants explored major similarities and differences in social protection reform in various countries with special attention to practical and theoretical lessons of transition that can enhance our understanding of present and future problems and challenges facing the evolving post-Soviet welfare states in Russia and the neighboring states. more

168. The Dynamics of Religion and Politics In Poland

Jul 07, 2011
October 1998 - Clashes between Catholics and Jews in Poland are again in the news. Since last spring, a series of confrontations between religious radicals has occurred at the Auschwitz death camp in Oswiecim. Thus far, all attempts to resolve the controversy surrounding the placement of Christian religious symbols at the site have failed. Why has the unauthorized display of crosses at Auschwitz escalated to an international incident? What makes this such an intractable issue? This problem results from the intertwining of religious social action and political activity in Poland since 1989. In fact, the current controversy is a way of illustrating the contemporary dynamics of religion and politics in Poland. These dynamics can be broken into four aspects: the international dimension, church-state realignment, tensions within the Catholic hierarchy, and the differentiation of the Catholic community. more

236. Between Hungary and Romania: The Case of the Southern Transylvania's Jews During the Holocaust

Jul 07, 2011
September 2001- The tragedy of the Jews of Banat and Southern Transylvania was different from that of the Jews of the Old Kingdom of Romania. The dictatorial regimes of King Carol II and Marshall Ion Antonescu did not recognize the civil rights granted by the 1923 Constitution. The Jews were discriminated against on the basis of the historical regions in which they lived. The pretexts of the authorities were that: the Jews of Transylvania did not participate in the Romanian War of Independence (deliberately ignoring the fact that in 1877 they were citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire); did not fight in the Balkan Wars of 1912- 1913; did not take part in the unionist propaganda; did not integrate into Romanian culture; and, many of them used Hungarian as a language of communication and culture. more

6. The Political Leadership and the Armed Forces in Postwar Eastern Europe

Jul 07, 2011
The armed forces serve two important functions in the eyes of the East European political leaderships. First, they are a vehicle for maintaining political stability if the system is threatened from within. Second, from an external standpoint, to the degree the political leadership is able to field a modern, viable military, the regime's hand is strengthened in its dealings with the Soviets. Unfortunately for the East European leaderships, the historical record over the past forty years suggests that these militaries are of only limited utility in the first area, and, with the exception of the GDR, are becoming less valuable by the second. more

268. Spillover Effect: Aftershocks in Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia

Jul 07, 2011
January 2003- This essay challenges the conventional wisdom that there are definite "lessons" to be drawn from NATO's war over Kosovo. To the contrary, the Kosovo intervention offers a number of compelling (and often contradictory) implications that should concern — and may even confound — serious analysts and policymakers. At best, the most reasonable conclusion in the after-math of the war is that the lessons of Kosovo are terminally ambiguous. While the intent here is not to promote a specific solution or set of policy recommendations, there does exist a broad problem-set of dynamics that were, and are, driving forces in the shaping, analysis and future direction of the European security architecture. Attempts to explain conflict that focus too narrowly on ethnic differences, or too broadly evoke human justice as grounds for intervention, will consistently miss the strategic mark. more

210. Twenty Years After Solidarity: The State of Democracy in the Post- Communist World

Jul 07, 2011
September 2000 - In his opening remarks, Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined three categories of democracy: functioning, malfunctioning, and fictitious. Functioning democracies are characterized by political and economic pluralism. Poland represents one of the most successful "functioning democracies" in the post-communist world. Malfunctioning democracies, such as many former Soviet states today, may aspire to democracy, but are crippled by legacies of the communist past. In fictitious democracies, the organs of the Communist Party remain but the regime pursues limited, reformist economic and social policies, such as in China. Brzezinski also pointed out that wide-scale, growing poverty impedes the movement toward democracy in many post-communist countries. more

307. The Internationalization of Minority Rights in Poscommunist Europe

Jul 07, 2011
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. more

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Dialogue

The Future of Higher Education

Mar 26, 2014Apr 02, 2014

Jeff Abernathy and Richard Morrill discuss how colleges and universities are dealing with rapidly rising costs and how the United States can still compete for students in a globalized environment.