Historical heritages in Central Europe

Sławomir Łodziński:  The ethnic identity and national censuses. The case of  “new nations” in the National Census 2002 in Poland
The main focus of my paper is to analyse ethnic declarations of the following three groups of population – Silesians (Ślązacy), Kashubs (Kaszubi) and Lemko (Łemkowie), made by respondents of the National Census in Poland in May-June 2002. The census results incited a thorough debate on the ethnic status and national strivings of those groups. The problem grew acute when the state failed to recognise an association called The Union of the People of Silesian Nationality. The argument provided by the National Census results was exploited by the Silesians who sought political recognition and legal acceptance. These ideas have revived in some groups in Poland and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Those phenomena are not always defined, explained and evaluated in a neutral fashion, as the perceptions of aspiring groups also make some impact. What is striking in the case of Poland, it is that ethnic groups spared no effort to secure themselves a legal status in the process of drafting bills of the Law of National Minorities, the Law of Education etc. There has been a tendency on the part of ethnic groups to interpret formal legitimisation as a means by which their status of a separate national group has been publicly confirmed. This may also indicate the emergence of a “new mode” of nation building. According to the new theories of nation and nationalism ethnic groups tend to ascribe an instrumental role to the state.

Stefano Lusa: Slovenia and Italy between Past, Present and Future
From four years Slovenia is part of the European Union, but the past continues to weight on the relations with another European country, Italy. The history has become an important protagonist of both the political scenes, not only dividing but also creating new collaborations and connections. In the middle of the Nineties, in fact, an Italian-Slovenian historical committee had prepared a report on the historical relations between the two countries. So when the politicians were fighting, the historians were trying to elaborate a common history.

István Schlett: The Fragility of the New Democracies – Imagined or Real?
How can we explain the quite astonishing phenomenon, considering the sweep and depth of the changes, that the democratic state has not been threatened for a moment in the past ten years in an important group of the ‘new democracies’? Structures, attitudes, and a mentality facilitating the rapid and successful adaptation of western, middle-class values which secured the edge of the ‘fast-track’ countries were not created as a result of, but as a counteraction to ‘socialist modernisation’. On one hand, ‘middle-class residues’, to use socialist phraseology, survived the onslaught against them, on the other hand, new groups emerged under the demonstrative effect of the ‘West. A long survival even if the stability and operability of these democracies will be confirmed by facts in the years to come. It appears that such Cassandra prophecies are conceived by several motives. They may derive from erroneous analogies, misconstrued facts, obscure understanding, but they may equally originate from special estimations, such as genuine concern out of democratic commitment, a peculiar concept of democracy and politics, and last but least from straightforward political interest. The history of political thought demonstrates that such judgements and opinions proceed not only from erroneous or insufficient knowledge, but from special approaches or interests. Consequently, I think that the results of such judgements made by intellectuals or politicians are not likely to vanish any time soon on either side of the Schengen borders.

Csaba Varga: In Bondage of Paradoxes: Or Deadlock at the Peak of the Law we have Created for Ourselves Ourselves (A Case Study on the State of Rule of Law and Constitutionality in Hungary)
The May 2006 closed meeting speech at Balatonőszöd to the socialist members of the parliament by the Prime Minister has resulted in protests in Hungary, which made the President of the Republic to state a moral crisis in the country. Strictly legal and general political analyses of the stand of a party, election process and government lying equally show the paradoxes of a situation in which the very reason and liveability of the rule of law and constitutionality as hitherto locally achieved is widely questioned. Moreover, the very notion of the rule of law as reduced formally to security in and foreseeability of law by the over-activism of the first years of the Constitutional Court under the presidency of the same civil law professor who then became the state president had emptied the same rule of law from moral grounds. In consequence, moral judgment can at all be a personal opinion at the most, while the law does not offer any solution. Notwithstanding the wide gaps in law and the overall lack of legal consequences in practice, the once constitution builders praise their allegedly perfect oeuvre and blame the population as not determined enough to make constitutional values sanctioned and enforced.

József N. Szabó: Hungarian-Italian Cultural-diplomatically Connections /1945-1948/
After World War II, when democracy started to build up and a new cultural diplomacy was being developed in Hungary, Italy was the only country with which it was not necessary to make proposals – it was only necessary to expand existing connections in a democratic way. The cultural agreement, signed on 16 February, 1935, was in effect between the two nations. Not only Hungary, but also Italy struggled to develop a new identity and break out of international isolation. As a result of the recent events and a similar fate in the war not only Hungary, but also Italy was interested in extending the mutually beneficial cultural cooperation. Renewing cultural cooperation with Italy in a democratic spirit was a top political priority for Hungary. Despite the problem-free connections, the mutual sympathy between the two countries, and the partial identity of interests, the bilateral cooperation did not achieve the level of what it had been between the two World Wars. After 1945, Hungary was not the focus of the Italian cultural diplomatic orientation. As a result of the rearrangement of the international power relations, Italy was no longer in the centre of attention of Hungarian cultural diplomatic endeavours either. Hungarian educational and cultural decision makers did not pay as much attention to Italy as they did before World War II. They focused their attention to the new, dominant powers of international politics. It was reflected by the press as well: Italy received much less attention in the Hungarian press than before the war. Similar was the reaction of Parliament. Despite these political rearrangements, Hungarian-Italian cultural connections offered significant advantages. A problem-free relationship in the past, mutual sympathy and partially identical interests served as a basis for the rapidly developing post-war Hungarian-Italian connections. In 1945 both the leaders of Hungarian cultural policy and scientists found it indispensable to enter into a multilateral international scientific cooperation with as many partners as possible.

Zeller, Judit, Nóra Chronowski, Tímea Drinóczi, Miklós Kocsis: Biometrics: Identification, Verification or Desintegration of Personal Integrity?
This article gives legal details on biometrics how it appears in the European law and national regulation. Although there are different approaches on functions of biometrics the spread of its implementation confronts with personal data protection, human dignity and fundamental rights. This tension is sharp in new democracies in which an upgraded modernisation and European integration is managed in the environment of less developed culture how to respect for human dignity and personal integrity. The author describes this conflict in the case of Hungary and the national law in the context of “war on terrorism”.

Arvydas Guogis: Insights from two Social Models: The Problems of Interaction between Municipalities and Non-governmental Organizations in Vilnius City and Ukmergė District
The article analyses the problem of interaction between Lithuanian municipalities and non-governmental organisations on the basis of two social models. The theoretical basis of the article is formed on the insights of New Governance and New Institutional Economics social models and the practical basis is an interview-based survey of 12 leaders of non-governmental organisations (6 from Vilnius city and 6 from Ukmergė district). The article not only states the insufficient level of social capital at the interaction of municipalities and non-governmental organizations but presents the measures to improve it by promoting higher levels of interaction, enhancing the potential of non-governmental organisations, and reducing the asymmetrical information.