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Identity politics is nothing new

A conversation with Francis Fukuyama, professor, writer and public intellectual. Interviewer: Maciej Makulski

MACIEJ MAKULSKI: I would like

November 13, 2019 - Francis Fukuyama Maciej Makulski

A cold summer in Russia. A new wave of repressions and the rise of solidarity

The scale of repression in Russia is now more serious and terrifying than in 2012. At the same time, the Russian public has become more mature and fearless.

November 13, 2019 - Artem Filatov

Shadow of a bear. How Viktor Medvedchuk turned from a marginal man into a grey eminence in Ukraine

Since the collapse of communism, Viktor Medvedchuk has been a prominent face in Ukraine’s political scene. His higher ambitions, however, have never come

November 13, 2019 - Petro Bilian

We want to transform Ukraine

A conversation with Sviatoslav Yurash, a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the Servant of the People party. Interviewer: Kateryna Pryshchepa

November 13, 2019 - Kateryna Pryshchepa Sviatoslav Yurash

Uncertainty and risk in Lukashenka’s times

The last 25 years in Belarus should not be seen as a period of development that was based on some predetermined plan. Rather it is a story of maintaining

November 13, 2019 - Andrei Kazakevich

The downfall of a captured state

In June this year Moldova ended its one-party rule and political deadlock when a pragmatic coalition of pro-democratic and pro-Russian forces took power.

November 13, 2019 - Denis Cenusa

Slovakia’s new wave and its limits

The new Slovak president illustrates that an alternative to Central European populism is politically viable. But her power is tamed by constitutional limits

November 13, 2019 - Pavol Szalai

Authority without power?

In his electoral campaign Gitanas Nausėda presented himself as a peacemaker. He promised a new standard in Lithuanian politics, one without intrigue or

November 13, 2019 - Liepa Želnienė

From revolution to politics

For almost a year, Armenia has been undergoing a process of state reforms. Expectations are high. However, despite some initial positive results, any true

November 13, 2019 - Mateusz Kubiak

A hot summer in Georgia

Georgia has witnessed strong political tension over the last several months. Tbilisi Pride, anti-Russian and anti-government protests, trouble with the construction of the Anaklia sea port, resolving the ownership dispute of the country’s popular opposition TV channel Rustavi 2 and the change of prime minister. A year ahead of parliamentary elections, Georgian politics is shaken as the Georgian Dream decided to go on an all-out offensive aiming at electoral victory.

November 13, 2019 - Wojciech Wojtasiewicz

New president, old authorities

Kazakhstan’s presidential election on June 9th was a breakthrough. It was the first election in the history of the young country where the main candidate was not Nursultan Nazarbayev, who had ruled Kazakhstan for almost 30 years. The country’s new president is Qasym-Jomart Toqaev, a long-time diplomat and confidant of Nazarbayev.

“I have made a difficult decision for myself – to resign from the powers of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” It was a historic moment when Nursultan Nazarbayev announced his resignation live on TV on March 19th 2019. He made an unusual decision for a region where presidents tend to die in office rather than resign. This step came by surprise for many at that time but had been in preparation for years.

November 13, 2019 - Othmara Glas

Lord of the flies. Power struggles on Central Asia’s island of democracy

With its unique political model, Kyrgyzstan, in a region full of autocratic regimes, is sometimes called an “island of democracy”. This reference, however, does not imply full ascension of democracy.

Kyrgyzstan is often understood to be the only democracy in Central Asia. A transfer of power has happened here more often than its neighbours. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have witnessed replacement at the top following the death of their respective rulers; in Kazakhstan, the presidential change happened this year with the approval of its long-serving president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, as an aksakal , still retains significant political power; Emomali Rakhmon has been ruling Tajikistan, unchallenged, since the mid-1990s, when he rose to power after political turbulences and a bitter civil war.

November 13, 2019 - Rusif Huseynov

Overcoming challenges with innovation. Capacity building in Ukraine

From the very beginning, the European Union’s Support Group for Ukraine has focused on governance issues, for which it has mobilised close to 300 million euros in support between 2015 and 2019. With this and the deployment of other resources, the EU is closely involved in the implementation of key reforms. A lot has been accomplished, but many challenges lie ahead.

Five years ago Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity signalled the beginning of an extraordinary period of change. This included the enormous reform programme initiated with the signature and implementation of the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) with the European Union. After decades of stalemate, this alignment to western and often specifically European standards, rules and structures was a particular challenge to Ukraine’s institutions, some of which had remained largely unchanged since the times of the Soviet Union.

November 13, 2019 - Berend De Groot Maria Maslowska Peter M. Wagner Stefan Schleuning

International justice on hold

It has been over five years since the conflict has broken out in Ukraine, which saw Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea as well as direct military support for separatism in Donbas. Yet little has been done to achieve justice for the civilian victims of these devastating events. Recent steps taken by the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court may indicate some slow progress ahead.

The inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recent parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government have brought the question of justice back to the forefront of Ukrainian politics. Until now, little has been achieved in terms of ending impunity for criminal acts and human rights abuses perpetrated during the 2013-14 EuroMaidan and events in Crimea and Donbas.

November 13, 2019 - Quincy Cloet

Big brother to the rescue? Can artificial intelligence help in Ukraine’s fight against corruption?

The US Ukraine scandal has been in the news 24/7 in the United States for over a month now. Consistent with the origin of the inquiry, the focus has been more on the United States than Ukraine. This article examines a recent development in Ukraine’s fight against corruption that got lost amidst the all other Ukraine-related news.

November 12, 2019 - Kristina V. Arianina

Intermarium in the 21st Century. A new path for Europe?

In sharp contrast to the world in which Józef Piłsudski originally proposed an Intermarium alliance, the political climate today is ripe for regional collaboration. Eastern European nations are now long established and, therefore, unlikely to express the reticence that 1920s Lithuania and Ukraine did in returning into union with Poland.

In interwar Europe, newly-independent nations in the east found themselves suspended between two competing threats: German expansionism to the west and Russian imperialism to the east. In an effort to combat these threats, Józef Piłsudski, chief of state and First Marshal of the Second Polish Republic, advocated for a federation of Eastern European nations, interconnected in terms of economics, defence and politics.

November 12, 2019 - Nick Cohen

Preserving the GDR

In Germany there is more than one narrative about its East German past. The official one, which can be seen in the Berlin-based GDR Museum, shows a rather murky picture of oppression in a totalitarian state. This story is complemented by an alternative narrative, which is created by the people who still hold positive memories of their country’s socialist past.

I start my journey with Berlin. With dozens of tourists I wait in line to the GDR Museum located on the banks of the Spree River. Opened to the public in 2006 it is one of the main attractions of Germany’s capital, advertised all over the city and, as expected, visited by thousands of people a year. They come from all over the world. The visitors, as I gather from the conversations I overhear while waiting in the line for a ticket, differ in age and knowledge of what they are about to see.

November 12, 2019 - Iwona Reichardt

I write for people who are like me

A conversation with Elena Fanailova, a Russian poet. Interviewer: Elżbieta Żak.

November 12, 2019 - Elena Fanailova Elżbieta Żak

A tale of two cities? Gabriele D’Annunzio in Rijeka and Fiume

To ask whether Gabriele D’Annunzio was a fascist or not is to pose the wrong question. Much more important is to ask why he marched in 1919 under arms into a contested city, and why did he brazenly insist on the political and cultural superiority of only one of that city’s ethnic groups.

In the early morning of Thursday September 12th 2019 a group of young Italian men in black t-shirts unfurled a large Italian flag in front of the former Governor’s Palace in the Croatian port city of Rijeka. They took a few group selfies and then quietly disappeared, their photos appearing on news sites throughout Italy and Croatia a few hours later.

November 12, 2019 - Jonathan Bousfield

German-Polish cultural dialogue in former East Prussia – a success?

The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 allowed new memorial works to begin for both Polish and German population groups in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland. Today, German heritage is present again, and perceived positively throughout.

My grandmother Cilly never spoke badly about Poland and the Poles. When she spoke about her home in former East Prussia she never specifically mentioned the nationalities there, maybe because she came from a family with a dual identity where both Polish and German languages were spoken. Or maybe it was because nationalities never really played a role in everyday life in the region of Warmia before 1933.

November 12, 2019 - Marcel Krueger

Russia’s historical amnesia

How can we understand how Joseph Stalin, one of history’s most notorious dictators, is not only tolerated, but oftentimes defended in present-day Russia? Is this a failure of history? Who or what is fanning the flames of this modern Stalin-cult?

Recent months have witnessed some important anniversaries in the history of the Second World War. On January 27th 2018, the city of St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad. The Nazi siege of the city, which lasted some 900 days, intended to starve the city out of existence. Though ultimately unsuccessful, over one million of the city’s residents died as a result, whilst many more experienced over two years of pain and suffering.

November 12, 2019 - Joshua Kroeker

Intermarium: An empty signifier?

A review of The Intermarium as the Polish–Ukrainian Linchpin in Baltic–Black Sea Cooperation. Edited by: Ostap Kushnir. Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2019.

November 12, 2019 - Matthew Kott

Europeanisation is more than about the EU

A review of Russia, The Former Soviet Republics, and Europe Since 1989: Transformation and Tragedy. By: Katherine Graney. Publisher: Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2019.

November 12, 2019 - James Baresel

Between the hammer and the anvil

A review of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews: Antisemitism, Propaganda, and the Displacement of Ukrainian Jewry. By: Sam Sokol. Publisher: ISGAP, New York. 2019

November 12, 2019 - Daniel Gleichgewicht

A volunteer’s journey to hell and back

A review of The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz. By: Jack Fairweather. Publisher: WH Allen / Penguin Random House, London, United Kingdom.

November 12, 2019 - Maria Suchcitz

When Lviv became a city of angels

The revival of angels. An exhibition curated by Pavlo Gudimov. Lviv: June 20th – September 22, 2019.

November 12, 2019 - Nataliya Parshchyk

A society lacking a consensus is a dangerous place

An interview with Eric Weitz, a professor of history. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: The title of your book is Weimar Germany. Promises and Tragedy. Let us start with the first part: the promises. What promises did the Weimar republic, which was established in 1918 and whose official name remained Deutsches Reich (unchanged since 1871), make to the German society, which was deeply battered after the First World War and burdened with a very heavy sense of loss and humiliation?

ERIC WEITZ: The Revolution of 1918/19 established – and did not only promise – Germany as a democratic state and society. The extent of participation in the government at all levels –federal, state and local – broadened dramatically. Germans had a great range of freedoms to speak out, to publish what they wanted in the press and to organise themselves in parties and civil society.

November 12, 2019 - Eric Weitz Iwona Reichardt

Germany’s Weimar Republic: A narrative of ambiguity

Modernisation appeared to spell economic deprivation for large segments of the Weimar Republic’s society. They felt threatened by uncertainties; in fact, hopes and expectations about the future were disrupted. Aggression turned against democratic institutions and minorities depicted as scapegoats.

On October 15th 1929, the Fritz Lang film Woman in the Moon premiered at the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin. The cinema’s façade had been redesigned for the event. Launched from a skyscraper silhouette, a spaceship replica shuttled back and forth to the moon against the backdrop of a starry sky simulated by hundreds of light bulbs. Offering tantalising visions of future technology – not quite unlike Bauhaus architecture with its twin promise of functionalist building and re-styled urban life, it conveyed the impression of epitomising a cosmopolitan republic that eagerly embraced modernity.

November 12, 2019 - Rainer Eisfeld

Hostage to the generals

Had it not been for the huge effort of the German military who carefully considered the experiences of the First World War and a wide support for Reichswehr military concepts in the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime would not have transferred into an effective military machine. One that posed a serious threat to Europe’s peace.

On November 9th 1918 a republic was established in Germany. It was one of the unintended outcomes of the First World War. The Hohenzollern family, which ruled Germany since 1871, lost power as a result of the war. It is difficult to fully understand the 14-year long history of the interwar German republic without looking at the causes which brought it to life. The same factors, in fact, are the ones which brought it to an end. Had it not been for the madness of Emperor Wilhelm II, Germany would have probably remained one of European constitutional monarchies. The sudden and unexpected abdication of the emperor in 1918, as well as his unexpected call to make peace with the Allied Forces, truly shocked the German public. Its citizens experienced four years of sacrifice to face a disgraceful capitulation in the end.

November 12, 2019 - Andrzej Zaręba

Colonialism continued. Versailles and the end of formal German colonial rule

As a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany lost its colonial empire. This, however, only fuelled the idea of German colonialism after the war. Four million Germans signed up for a campaign against the loss of the colonies and the German government actively supported resettling the colonies.

The German colonial empire officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th 1919. Already in the first two years of the First World War, the Allied troops had occupied most of the so-called German protectorates in Africa, Asia and the Pacific; in German East Africa Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck had waged a guerrilla war until 1917, he surrendered only after the armistice on November 25th 1918. In article 119 of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany renounced all overseas possessions.

November 12, 2019 - Birte Förster

The short-lived Weimar cultural scene

From today’s perspective, the Weimar period should not only be seen as a time of vibrant artistic life but also as a warning of what can put democracy at risk. The experience of the Weimar Republic teaches us that democracy’s enemies can be found within the system, while politics can help to both stimulate artistic expression and constrain it.

Culturally speaking, the Weimar Republic was an extremely vibrant period in German life. It was a time of new artistic trends which included the works of great artists like Marlena Dietrich, Thomas Mann and Gerhart Hauptmann, to name just a few. This was also the period of the theatre of Max Reinhardt and Bertold Brecht, who’s Threepenny Opera was enriched by the music of Kurt Weille. In addition, this period saw a rapid development in the visual arts, including film and photography.

November 12, 2019 - Kinga Gajda

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