Eastern Europe Events
February 23, 2010 // 1:00pm — 2:30pm
Over the last 20 years, Bulgaria and Greece have pursued variable and divergent policies toward their Muslim minorities. During a brief period near the end of the Communist regime, Bulgaria forced Turks to assimilate. This policy was abandoned by the democratic government that took power in the 1990s. At the same time, Greece recognized its Muslim minority and facilitated the "Turkification" of its Muslim citizens throughout the 1980s, but then abandoned that policy by blocking minority rights in the 1990s. Harris Mylonas suggested that these policy shifts are commonly explained by assumptions or models that link minority treatment, regime type, ideology and leadership personalities. Rejecting these hypotheses, Mylonas argued that the structure of the international system was the most salient indicator influencing the treatment of Muslim minorities in both countries.
February 22, 2010 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
The book "Human Rights and Their Limits" shows that the concept of human rights has developed in waves: each call for rights served the purpose of social groups that tried to stop further proliferation of rights once their own goals were reached. While defending the universality of human rights as norms of behavior, Osiatynski admits that the philosophy on human rights does not need to be universal.
February 17, 2010 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
Although the postcommunist period brought an abrupt end to state policies that raised women's political and economic welfare, it also cleared the way for women to participate freely in democratic institutions and the market economy. Perhaps predictably, therefore, the impact that the postcommunist transition has had on women's welfare has also been mixed. Discussing the findings of her book, Katalin Fabian evaluated the gender regime and the growth of women's movements in postcommunist Hungary. She identified the interconnection between women's organizations, welfare policies and the impact that globalization has had on local activism.
February 02, 2010 // 1:00pm — 2:00pm
Crown Prince Alexander II voiced his strong support for Serbia's application for EU membership, which its leaders submitted to Brussels in December 2009. He asserted that "Serbia will gain political and economic benefit from EU membership," arguing that the reforms necessary to meet accession obligations will help to strengthen government institutions.
January 27, 2010 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
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.
January 14, 2010 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
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 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
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.
10th Annual Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture: Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution
December 09, 2009 // 9:00am — 10:00am
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.
November 18, 2009 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
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.
November 17, 2009 // 11:00am — 12:00pm
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.