Full Interview List

In 2012-13, as part of an Open Society Foundation fellowship, I re-interviewed many of the people I talked to in 1990 when I traveled for seven months through East-Central Europe. Twenty-three years later, I also interviewed a wide range of additional people in order to get as broad a picture as possible of what has changed (and not changed) in the region since the transformations of 1989. I send...
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The Failure of Nationalist Politics

The European financial crisis certainly prepared the ground for the growth of nationalist parties throughout the continent, particularly along the eastern frontier. Jobbik in Hungary, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Golden Dawn in Greece all benefited from the economic downturn. But amid all the attention the media has focused on this nationalist surge, it’s important to remember that many parts of the...
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Modernizing the Polish Military

By law, Poland must spend at least 1.95 percent of its GDP on its military. That’s just a shade under the 2 percent that NATO asks its members to devote. Aside from Estonia, however, Poland is way ahead of the rest of the region in military spending. And when President Barack Obama visited Poland in June 2014, Poland committed to upping its allocation to 2 percent, with an expectation that it...
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The Church as Opposition

Before the Solidarity trade union emerged in 1980, Poland’s primary non-state institution – and often anti-state institution — was the Church. Catholic intellectuals created discussion clubs and published periodicals. Churches were relatively safe places to voice dissent. John Paul II, originally Karol Wojtyla, became the first Polish Pope in 1978 and inspired many in his home country...
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Challenging the Surveillance Society

The United States has been the focus of concerns about government surveillance, particularly in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). But that surveillance has not just been of American citizens. Europeans, for instance, expressed considerable outrage that the NSA was conducting surveillance of non-Americans under a provision of the...
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Shaking Up Politics

Most countries in East-Central Europe have seen the development of two main parties, one liberal and one conservative. In some cases, the former Communist parties – like the Bulgarian Socialist Party – have occupied the liberal position. In other cases, former liberal parties – like Fidesz in Hungary – have moved across the political spectrum to secure the conservative position. In...
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