Uncertain Futures: Eastern Europe and Democracy

Uncertain Futures: Eastern Europe and Democracy

Uncertain Futures: Eastern Europe and Democracy

Uncertain Futures: Eastern Europe and Democracy

Excerpt

The year of the bicentennial of the French Revolution witnessed another genuine revolution in Europe. Freedom of action at the state level in Eastern Europe has significantly increased. But, in large measure as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev's rise to power in the Soviet Union, the most dramatic and sudden changes have occurred at the level of society itself. The courageous struggle of underground movements like Solidarity and Charter '77, as well as the bold steps taken by Gorbachev, have awakened the hearts and minds of the peoples of Europe. The peoples of Eastern Europe have seized their own destiny and are demanding policies that until recently were forbidden dreams.

The repercussions of these internal developments on the international system have been directly visible and far‐ reaching. For almost half a century the political structure in Europe had been characterized by a robust, if not rigid, security system. Its dominant features had been the imposed divide between East and West. Ideological antagonism and a confrontation-oriented understanding of military security were given primacy over legal, cultural and economic relations between governments and virtually suppressed human exchanges between societies. Now, after the revolutions of 1989, governments and societies (which had done so long ago) have declared their willingness to construct a new political order in Europe based on principles and values of cooperation and mutual understanding. The challenge now has become how to implement those—internal and external—political goals in a peaceful and structured way.

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