Eastern Europe Publications
In June 1994, five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall symbolically ended the Communist hold on Eastern Europe, only a quarter of the eligible voters turned out for the local elections in Poland. Elections in Hungary and the Czech Republic and referenda in Lithuania have been plagued by similarly low turnouts. Even in countries where voter turnout was high in the first post-Communist elections, the number of people who say they intend to cast ballots in upcoming elections has dropped, an indication of declining turnout. This paper examines civil society, the participatory culture, and public legitimation in the region, as well as democratization policies.
June 2006 - History never quite repeats itself, but some echoes sound too familiar to ignore. The government assembled by Robert Fico after Slovakia's June 2006 elections bears notable similarities to the governing coalition led by Vladimír Meciar between 1994 and 1998. Since that earlier government gave Slovakia a reputation as a pariah state—"a hole in the map of Europe"—it is understandable that any prospect of its return should produce consternation and prompt the question "Could it happen again?" Though the short answer to this question is probably "No," there is considerable value in asking "Why not?" and in exploring the factors that made Slovakia's mid-1990's government such an unfortunate precedent.
October 2002- Contemporary war economies in places such as the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and West Africa tend to be clandestine economies, utilizing criminal actors as combatants and smuggling networks and black marketeering for financing and supplies. The importance of clandestine flows and criminal actors becomes even more apparent in the context of evading international economic sanctions and arms embargoes. Consequently, the business of war and the business of crime closely intersect—producing a form of criminalized conflict. In the case of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, for example, understanding the role of criminal actors and clandestine flows is crucial in explaining the war's outbreak, persistence, termination, and aftermath. Calling this war a criminalized conflict does not take politics out and simply reduce all aspects of the conflict to criminality and economic motives. It does, however, stress the analytical insights that can be gained from a more sharply-focused exploration of the intersection between smuggling practices, criminal actors, and warfare. It also has important implications for understanding the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction.
October 2005 - The constitutional structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina is complex, emerging as it did from a peacemaking process between Serb forces of Republika Srpska and a coalition of Bosniak (or Muslim) and Croat forces under the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of the fundamental obligations of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its two subordinate Entities, Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), arise from the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Annexes, often called the Dayton Accords, signed in Paris on December 14, 1995.
February 2000 - The U.S. has a tendency to repeatedly back the worst of candidates in foreign elections. This is especially true in Eastern Europe where high marks are given for the candidate's ability to be charming, speak good English and wear deodorant but who otherwise have zero effectiveness in their own societies.
December 2008 - In December 2008, a friend in Bucharest sent me a message quoting a recent statement by an influential political commentator from the Romanian media. This columnist reminds me of the former spokesman for the Polish military junta in the 1980s, who has since become a very successful capitalist: Jerzy Urban. Urban is the editor of the weekly magazine Nie, which irreverently makes fun of everybody. In my mind, Urban is no hero, but is a former Communist Party lackey who turned into the transition's profiteering buffoon. So, I am referring here to somebody who is the equivalent of Urban in Romania, and his name is Ion Cristoiu.
Communist parties have inherited from Lenin and other great Bolsheviks an ideal-logical paradigm. In terms of this paradigm the Bolsheviks understand themselves and the world, which they try to disqualify ideologically and to change through revolutionary activity.
Jorge Santayana would be pleased. Nearly every policy proposal on Iraq these days mentions lessons learned from past interventions, such as postwar Germany and Japan, East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo. In the spirit of Santayana's famous dictum—"those who forget the past are destined to relive it"—analysts have been doggedly culling US state-building experience for lessons learned.
March 1998 - The new millennium will begin without a consensus among world leaders on the direction or importance of arms control. This being the case, two scenarios exsist that US policy makers must take into account. The first is tha the quantitative dimension of arms control will disappear. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the superpower-driven urgency of arms control (which made for high politics at U.S.-Soviet summits) will be replaced by efforts to implement and verify exsisting treaties: START I and II, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and perhaps a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (if the Senate ratifies it in 1998 or 1999). "Free market arms control" will become the norm; additional reductions or impose tighter verification regimes will be regarded as too expensive to implement. Quantitative arms control may not be an issues in any case, since rising social and financial costs dictate downsizing forces and discarding weapons.
December 2000- The current priorities of the office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM), headed by Max Van der Stoel, are problems in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Central Asia and Yugoslavia. What is most notable is what is not on the list. Since it's establishment in 1993, the HCNM has concentrated on ethnic tensions in Slovakia, Romania, and the Baltic States. None of these states remain on the current list of priorities. While this does not mean that the problems have been solved, it is a sign that minority politics in much of Eastern Europe has moved into the arena of "normal politics."