Environmental Action in Eastern Europe: Responses to Crisis

Environmental Action in Eastern Europe: Responses to Crisis

Environmental Action in Eastern Europe: Responses to Crisis

Environmental Action in Eastern Europe: Responses to Crisis

Excerpt

Barbara Jancar-Webster

In 1989 the people of Eastern Europe threw off the communist yoke, and with it, forty years of Soviet hegemony. The principal issue that became symbolic of the arbitrary and dictatorial nature of the communist system was the environment. In every East European country and in republics of the Soviet Union the population rallied to demand the end of the regime which had brought them to the brink of environmental catastrophe. The elections of 1990 brought to power parties that promised swift environmental remediation; yet to date, no government has given more than lip service to environmental projects. The environmental issue receded into the background as old nationalist scores demanded settlement and new economic concerns pushed to the forefront. At the beginning of 1992, the former communist countries found themselves deep in the process of transition. It was clear where they had come from; but the future was shrouded in uncertainty. Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union faded from the map, to be replaced by sovereign states formed from the constituent republics of the communist federations. There was much talk of democracy and human rights, but in most countries these were far from being implemented. The toll from the war between Croatia and Serbia was estimated at $15 billion, with over half a million people driven from their homes and some 15,000 killed. In Nagorno-Karabakh, battles raged between Azeri and Armenian nationalists. In Czecho-Slovakia, the government instituted a five- year moratorium on the employment of former members of the . . .

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