Amid all East European states the Czech Republic is, it seems, the least understood and the most underappreciated. There are two reasons for this. First, the Czech Republic has not been perceived by the West as a part of Eastern European that fell under Soviet domination in the aftermath of World War II, as a part of Germany did. Second, its past tradition of democracy and developed capitalism has been somehow forgotten, especially after the Warsaw Pact armies' invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 and the imposition by Moscow of a hard-line communist regime.
Since then until the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia in late 1989, it enjoyed less sympathy in the West than did Poland, where was born the first national independent trade union in the communist world, Solidarity; or than did Hungary, where were introduced, according to Western mass media, the first meaningful economic reforms in the Soviet bloc aimed at establishing market mechanisms. Due to these misperceptions the Czech Republic, which was created in January 1993 after Czechoslovakia's split into two states, is frequently seen by outside observers as being more or less on a par with other postcommunist countries of the region as far as its prospects for a sustainable liberal democracy and a viable market economy are concerned. Instead, the tacit assumption is that because the country was under communist rule for over forty years, like any other Eastern European