March 17, 2003 Debate and confusion have emerged over the possible duration and costs in terms of manpower, military expenditure and development of the impending war in Iraq and the subsequent nation-building exercise envisaged by the administration. A look at the U.S. and allied experience in the ongoing nation-building efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo would help to put the costs and challenges of Iraq into realistic and sobering perspective.
October 1998 - Although opposition political parties won a decisive victory in September's parliamentary elections in Slovakia, their triumph was made possible by the country's non-political civil society. No group did more to overturn the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Meciar than the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of Slovakia's third sector. In fact, public opinion polling and surveys had indicated for more than a year that the opposition would win--if Slovakia's citizens understood what was at stake and turned out to vote.
February 1997 - Observers of Polish Politics may feel a strong sense of déja vu. Like the historic election of 1989 which precipitated the collapse of Communist regimes across Eastern Europe, Solidarity emerged victorious from the parliamentary elections of September 1997, a showdown between the former Communists and the Electoral Action Solidarity (AWS). The AWS, a coalition of the trade union "Solidarity" and several minor parties, won decidedly, with 33.8% of the votes and 201 of the 460 seats in the Sejm. The post-Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) finished second with 27.1% of the votes and 164 seats. A distant third was the Freedom Union (UW) party, dominated by the former Solidarity intellectual elite, with 13.4% of the votes and 60 seats. It was followed by the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the 1993-97 coalition partner of the SLD (7.3% and 27 seats), and the Movement for the Rebirth of Poland, another party with Solidarity roots (5.6% and 6 seats). The remaining two seats were won by the Silesian Germans, exempt from the 5% threshold as a national minority. Among those who didn't clear the threshold was the leftist Labor Union (UP) with 4.7%.
May 2002- There has been an obvious uneven evolution of the East European countries in the last ten years. Theoretically, the process of transformation still points in the same direction: modern capitalism. Practically, however, many of the new democracies seem to have stopped along the road. A classification of political systems in Eastern Europe according to economic performance in the decade 1990-99 shows that there are competitive democracies and concentrated political regimes alongside war-torn societies and non-competitive political regimes. There are also differences among countries and regions. (World Bank Report on Eastern Europe, November 2001) How can one explain the large divergence among performance levels in Eastern Europe after 1989? What constitutes the new East European ruling elite, what is the dominant political ideology, and how do the new capitalist institutions work? There are two prevailing viewpoints. The first one is known as the path-dependency approach; the second is the neo-classic sociology school of thought.
This paper analyzes the disintegration of communism in Poland and the formation of a new socio-economic and political system. The actions of political elites have been pivotal in this process. One of the basic conclusions of the analysis that follows is that, because of the weak articulation of the structures of civil society, political elites were not subjected to precise social demands and pressures.
December 2003 - Approximately one-third of Estonian residents are not ethnic Estonians, and an overwhelming majority of that proportion of the population are Russian-speakers. Probably the most telling fact about Estonia's ethnic minorities is that only 38 percent of them hold Estonian citizenship, despite of having been residents for decades. The remaining are either stateless persons or citizens of the Russian Federation. Since 1998, the government has made efforts to encourage these residents to apply for Estonian citizenship. The major obstacle to obtaining the blue Estonian passport for many is passing the Estonian language proficiency examination.
This two-part report presents the findings of the August 1999, Freedom House assessment mission to Kosovo, as well as the author's own September 1999 trip to Serbia. It focuses on the status of civil society, specifically non-governmental organizations, development. The overall goal of the four person assessment team to Kosovo was to determine the conditions, status, and potential for development of civil society and democratic governance in the war-torn province and to formulate recommendations to strengthen its transition to a democratic society based on the rule of law. In the author's visit to Belgrade he observed another face of Serbia, and aims to share it with those who are genuinely interested in assisting Serbia and the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in its transition to a stable and democratic country.
February 2001- The regime of Slobodan Milosevic created great problems not only for those of us who live in Serbia, but also for the entire world. His regime, which was probably one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world, basically brought the Serbian people to the edge of insanity - to a point where they did not know what to do. The terror and repression that occurred in terms of kidnapings, arrests, and even murders, had tremendous impact on the people of Serbia.
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.