Central and Southeastern Europe in Transition: Perspectives on Success and Failure since 1989

By Hall Gardner | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
Environmental Security and Civil Society

Oleg Kobtzeff

On 4 April 1986, in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, no more than fifty miles north of Kiev, reactor Number Four of a large nuclear plant exploded in the vicinity of Chernobyl. Its radioactive waste was detected in parts of Europe as remote as France, or Lapland, where entire populations of reindeer feeding on contaminated tundra had to be destroyed. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases of fallout-related disease struck the Ukrainian, Bielorussian, and Slovak populations. For the first time in recorded history, an exodus of nearly a quarter of a million "environmental refugees" proved that environmental politics could no longer be considered a marginal geopolitical issue.

The progressive flow of uncensored data (eased by glasnost) revealed that Chernobyl was only the tip of the iceberg. For decision-makers, in the Soviet bloc or in the West, even those least concerned by ecology, the risks of geographic, economic, and political instability became too obvious to ignore as it coincided with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Another revelation was that an environmentalist opposition existed behind the iron curtain. Could it have played a role in destabilizing the regimes?

But Central and Eastern European ecology also became a fad. Sensationalism, then overexposure, then daily routine, devaluated the issue. Whatever was left of our vigilance in the early 1990s was further blunted by the illusion that reforms, democratization, foreign aid, and a free market were to solve all problems. Today, the Central and Eastern Europeans themselves seem to have lost any interest in environmental politics.

Yet, a small but influential chorus of Western analysts is determined to make an issue out of the environmental problems of the "Other Europe." Their main concern is legitimate: how could one expect five decades of catastrophic mistakes in environmental management to have been corrected in less than ten

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Central and Southeastern Europe in Transition: Perspectives on Success and Failure since 1989
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 in Search of East-Central Europe: Ten Years After 5
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 2 the Balkans: A Distorted, Third World Reflection of Europe 21
  • Notes 28
  • Chapter 3 Rusty Ottoman Keys to the Balkans of Today 31
  • Notes 42
  • Chapter 4 the Role of Culture Under the Communist and Post-Communist Eras 43
  • Chapter 5 the Transformation of the Media in Post-Communist Central Europe 51
  • Notes 60
  • Chapter 6 the Media in Transition in Southern Central Europe 61
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter 7 a Balance of Economic Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe 75
  • Notes 92
  • Chapter 8 Ulysses and the Lotus Eaters 97
  • Notes 110
  • Chapter 9 Environmental Security and Civil Society 113
  • Notes 142
  • Chapter 10 the Genesis of Nato Enlargement and of War "Over" Kosovo 151
  • Introduction 151
  • Notes 181
  • Name Index 199
  • Subject Index 203
  • Contributors and Editors 209
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