The memory of the past in Central Europe

Anton Bebler: Consensus Building and Conflict Resolution in Slovenia – The First Ten Years of Slovenian Democracy (1990 – 2000)
The shift took place in Slovenia roughly simultaneously with the developments in the same direction which occurred in several other communist-ruled Eastern European states. The general root causes of the change were also similar as they stemmed from initial similarities in the origin, ideology and methods of rule practicized by the preceding communist regimes. Slovenian parliament was designed to consist of two chambers – the legislative National Assembly and the National Council. The latter plays an advisory and possibly a delaying role. Parliamentary prerogatives were strengthened with the adoption of the institution of “positive non-confidence”, emulating the German example. This feature reduced president’s role and made it difficult to replace a prime-minister, his cabinet and to dissolve even a deadlocked National Assembly. Parliament and its committees were also authorized to control the appointments (and dismissals) of ministers, appointments of justices, judges, ambassadors and other officials as well as wide powers of obtrusive probing, inquest and investigation of the executive’s policy-implementation. These wide powers of parliament gave the Slovenian system some elements similar to those in the Swiss convent system.

Vladimir Bukovsky: Achtung: Socialism!
In the past couple of years I have attended quite a few conferences dedicated to 10th Anniversary of the “Velvet Revolution”, of the “Fall of the Wall” in Berlin, and the collapse of communism, and, undoubtedly, their number will only multiply in the years to come, as these events recede into the past. The legacy of this socialist experiment will be haunting us all for at least a generation, no denial of that. However, a suggestion that the way communist system has ended might have somewhat contributed to the present difficulties of transition as well is usually met with lackadaisical response.  No one shows any interest in exploring the subject except me, as if I have some very personal reason for such interest. But both partners in this game, bolsheviks and mensheviks, were fighting till the very end. Even in June of 1991, two months before the crush of communism, European Left has tried its best to prop up their communist brethren.     I doubt that we can recover after decades of the socialist madness without restoring this simple truth.

Charles Fenyvesi: Political Messages from the History to Central Europe
Since the tumbling down of the Berlin Wall we know with renewed certainty that the past is not obsolete but a living, vibrant part of ourselves that individuals and communities can deny only at their peril. Yugoslavia offers the extreme example – and the worst case scenario so far, though Chechens probably disagree – of how communist denial of national and ethnic aspirations can lead to wars and mass murder with genocidal intent. While mentioning the nationalist spirit that infused this best known example of the historic Hungarian revolutions, the speeches by government representives emphasized that the revolutionaries of 1956  were internationalists who inspired the Prague spring of 1968, Solidarnost in Poland, the popular uprising that unraveled in 1989 the police state of Nicolae Ceausescu, as well as the dissidents in the Soviet Union who challenged the Kremlin, the impregnable bastion of world communism. In other words, the drama of 1956 was not presented as an event hermetically Hungarian but as broadly internationalist and as part of the rhythm of regional history. The past and the present form an unbroken continuum, and that we should think of the past as part of the present. Though parts of us die with the dying, we survive by summoning the dead dear to us and remembering the best of their thoughts. If we forget them, we are smoke from a fire that did not burn.

Nicolaj Churilov: Ukraine between East and West – Public Opinion about the Democracy – 1990-2000
Both social-political life in Ukraine and consciousness of its citizens have changed a lot during the 1990’s in the time of independence. These changes (positive as well as negative) took place in all spheres of life of society.  In my report I will touch on only one aspect of this activity: foreign policy orientations of Ukrainian citizens. If the evaluation of Ukrainian-Russian relations is traditionally high because of the above mentioned historical links and dependency of Ukraine on energy sources supplied from our northern neighbor; the high evaluation of our relations with Warsaw is the recognition of intensive dialogue between the presidents of Ukraine and Poland, especially after Poland accession to NATO. Rather high evaluation of the cooperation with the USA and Germany is rather recognition of its importance for economic development of our country than reflection of real dialogue between them. The foreign policy orientations of Ukrainian population differ depending on the region where citizens live, their attitude towards the market reforms and their age. Most citizens of Ukraine believe that accession of Ukraine to the EU will take several years when actually this process can last longer.

Csaba Varga: Communism and Post-communist Memory in Hungary – Political Deportations of Families to Forced Work Camps at Hortobágy
As held on by an Open Society Institute representative in 1997, “a legacy of grave and systematic violations generates obligations that the state owes to the victims and to society. […] [T]hey are in fact distinct duties, each one of which must be complied with to the best of the government’s abilities. […Thus…] 1. to investigate, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators—a right of the victim to see justice done; 2. to disclose to the victims, their families, and society all that can be reliably established about those events—a right to know the truth; 3. to offer the victims adequate reparations—an entitlement to compensation and also to nonmonetary forms of restitution; and 4. to separate known perpetrators from law enforcement bodies and other positions of authority—a right to new, reorganized, and accountable institutions.”1 Ironically enough, none of the above four mutually complementary basic requirements has been fulfilled in Hungary during the two decades labelled “change of regimes” but resulting in “the old regime re-instated” instead. This is exemplified by the destiny of those families living near the cold war state borders and/or taken from politically central (e.g., heavily industrialised) urban settlements who were deported en masse by a short administrative notice to deserted fenced areas isolated from the rest of the country in 1950, with lasting consequences never to end.

Vladimir Rukavishnikov: War and peace in the 21st century: geopolitical fantasies, conflict-resolution and national interest
Nobody can provide a forecast free from political assumptions, national stereotypes, myths, phobias, and attitudes deeply rooted in the past. As a result many so called ‘forecasts’ are actually geopolitical fantasies in spite of the announced goals and intentions to identify political, social, demographic, economic, cultural, military tendencies and geopolitical obstacles for peaceful development. Efficiency of conflict-management relies upon national interests of countries engaged and international law, partly at least. Of course the international law provisions are changing because of the pressure of circumstances. Yet it is a slow process. To disclose a clash of national interests is not an easy task either. The recent (2010) Kyrgyz occurrences is taken as a case-study along with the situation around Kosovo and the 5-day (2008) Georgia-Russia war. These topics have a direct connection with the general theme of the essay: war and peace of the 21st century. The paper tackles the future of the USA, the EU, Russia and China in the 21st century, the next world war, national interest’s and international law’s issues, and the Russian reaction of the conflicts recently emerged near its borders.

Barnabás Kiss: On the Constitutions of the EU Member States – Equality of Rights, Prohibition of Discrimination, and the Restriction of Fundamental Rights
On the one hand, the present research paper intends to present, what solutions the constitutions of EU member states apply in the prominent field of emancipation and prohibition of discrimination connected to fundamental rights; on the other hand, what degree of defence the constitutions provide against the restriction of fundamental rights, what are the constitutional framework for this. The 27 EU member states are, on the one hand, subject to human rights obligations, so the author compares the constitutions with the UN International Covenants, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the norms of the European Council (ECRI, ECHR). On the other hand, the author places this all in the context of the reformed fundamental treaties of the EU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Beside the analytic approach we may have an image about constitutional diversity – not only as for the methods of regulation, but also as for the catalogue of fundamental rights and the measure of the restrictions of rights. From this point of view it is very interesting how the performance of the Hungarian constitutional powers or the legislative oscillates.

Ateş Uslu: Nineteenth-Century Opera as a Matter of Comparative History
This paper is an essay aiming to go beyond this enclosure of disciplines in the field of the history of music, and to construct a general framework for the integration of opera studies into the research on social and political history, and especially, on the nationalism studies. In this framework, the elements of so-called “national cultures” present an excellent object of analysis. Culture is the main reference in the processes of construction of the modern, unitary nations. According to the national discourse, the specific community, which is said to constitute a particular nation, is unified by the cultural references reflecting the supposedly primordial national spirit. This statement is at the origin of the motivation of various nationalistic efforts to systematise and diffuse folkloric traditions. So the question is not whether operas are national or cosmopolitan works of art; it is more important to analyse the political and social function of the operas in the nineteenth century. From this viewpoint, it is possible to state that operas played a central role in the development of a national and patriotic discourse; the case of the “national operas” of the nineteenth century is one of the several examples where the construction of national identities functioned in an international framework.