Issue 3-4 2017: The Balkan Carousel

OkładkaNEE May-August 2017

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“The price of Europeanising the Balkans is much higher than the price of the Balkanisation of Europe,” claims Zagreb-based writer Miljenko Jergović in the opening essay to this issue of New Eastern Europe. This poignant statement calls for wide attention, especially of those who hold dear the idea of a united and expanding Europe. It points to the immense pressure that has been emerging within the region of the Western Balkans and which could have an effect on Europe as a whole. This also inclines that a better understanding of the Balkans is a prerequisite for a better understanding of the developments on the entire European continent.

This fact has been true before, although not always – as our authors point out – taken seriously. Thus, it is worthwhile reading the essay by Adam Balcer, who argues that since antiquity the region of the Western Balkans has been at the core of westernisation. It was the place where great powers battled for influence and where world wars erupted. In the 21st century a new scenario, with some similarities of the past, may be unfolding.

Throughout the whole issue, our authors who are either based in the region or avid readers of its developments, point out to some alarming trends that the power games may indeed be returning. Such is the case of Turkey as described by Tomasz Targański who highlights the rise of Neo-Ottomanism. Russian influence is also felt in the region as Kenneth Morrison and Jelena Milić argue in their respective essays. Equally worrisome is the issue of Islamic extremism that is reported by Tatyana Dronzina and Sulejman Muça to be seeking a foothold in Europe via the Balkans.


Despite these and other developments the West has proved wrong in some decisions that were made in regards to the Balkans. The most striking example of a flawed policy implementation is depicted by Christopher Bennett as he shows how the Dayton Peace Agreement has turned Bosnia and Herzegovina into Europe’s longest frozen conflict, with little desire for improving the status quo.










Is Europe losing the Balkans? Miljenko Jergović

The price of Europeanising the Balkans today is probably higher than it was 20 years ago – when a golden opportunity to bring stability to the region was missed. But it still remains incomparably cheaper than the price to be paid in the event of the Balkanisation of Europe.


Dayton at death’s door - Christopher Bennett

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s trajectory has been consistently and evidently downwards since 2006, with the pace of descent accelerating every year. Post-war optimism disappeared long ago to be replaced by a fatalistic cynicism.


De-radicalising the Western Balkans - Tatyana Dronzina and Sulejman Muça

The Western Balkans have become fertile ground for ISIS recruitment and a place of terrorist activity in the heart of Europe. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia require greater attention on the social, economic and political issues if de-radicalisation eff orts are to succeed before it is too late.


Without accountability, there is no closure - Morgan Meaker


A long road ahead for women in Kosovo - Sidita Kushi


Western Balkan memory games - Simone Benazzo


Presidential election in Serbia. Unfair but square - Jelena Milić


Protests, plots and proxies - Kenneth Morrison


Public media in a deeply fragmented country - Antonio Scancariello


Neo-Ottomanism. An empire being rebuilt? - Tomasz Targański


A new, old Central Europe? - Ziemowit Szczerek


The Balkans. A history of civilisation - Adam Balcer


What will Lukashaneka do next? - Michał Potocki


All Latvian politics is local - Koen Verhelst


East of the South: Malta and the post-Soviet space - Miłosz J. Zieliński


Passion over censorship - Mykola Riabchuk


Eastern Ukraine left in limbo - Maxim Rust


The legacy of the Revolution on Granite - Olga Onuch


Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine join forces - Jakub Bornio





Georgia’s thorny path to constitutionalism - An interview with Zaza Rukhadze


Georgia’s memory of communism  - An interview with Irakli Khvadagiani





The iron guards of Ukrainian nationalism - Marek Wojnar





Stories from Hotel Porin - Mislav Marjanović


Finding God in Kramatorsk - Paulina Siegień





Old divisions die hard - Linda Massino





Trying to please Jacques - Bartosz Marcinkowski


Doctor Love - Iwona Reichardt


Breaking the comfortable silence on the Holocaust - Linas Vildžiūnas


Seeking ground zero of the post-Soviet space - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska


The more things change, the more they stay the same - Kacper Dziekan


On change. In pain and fear - Tomasz Lachowski



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Issue 5 2017: Homo post-sovieticus

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Stories of an unfinished transformation


Anyone interested in Central and Eastern Europe understands that this region is far from monolithic, also in the implementation (or lack thereof) of western economic and political systems. At the same time we cannot deny there is something idiosyncratic about the former Soviet bloc, something which links its societies together. Either through common experience or history (or both).


We address this phenomenon in this issue roughly using the term Homo post-sovieticus. It allows our authors to talk about the legacy of the socialist past that, as they argue, has not yet fully disappeared. Its traces can be found throughout the region and shape the lives of its many people. These traces have been captured by a group of photographers who collectively call themselves the Sputnik group. Their unique project is presented by Wojciech Górecki in the opening essay to this issue and is accompanied by some their illustrative photographs.


In addition, we tackle the issue of the incomplete system transformation which, in many cases, has allowed for a creation of hybrid socio-economic systems. They may, like in Georgia as discussed by Kaja Puto,be a result of a hasty reconstruction of the state to look more like what is believed to be the West. Or, as is the case of Belarus, which is analysed by Maxim Rust, reveal a slower emergence of collective identity that is both submissive and open, passive and entrepreneurial. A simultaneous challenge and opportunity.


In the case of post-Maidan Ukraine, which without a doubt the transformation has gone much further, the rooting of the western value system is also still under way. As we can see from Andriy Lyubka and Nina Boichenko’s texts the possible risks of its interruption cannot be ignored.


Additionally, in this issue we have prepared two special sections: the first one, published on the 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses debates the legacy of the Reformation from our region’s standpoint, while the second, at the end of the issue, is dedicated to Joseph Conrad – a Polish-born writer whose masterpieces have been read and studied throughout the world for generations. Our authors take a new look at Conrad, his influences and how his works are still very relevant in 2017.


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Table of Contents




Traces of the Soviet Union
Wojciech Górecki
Is talking about a post-Soviet reality justified? Or is it more of an offence? Does the term “post-Soviet” even make sense today – 26 years since the Soviet Union collapsed?


A 21st century Homo sovieticus?
Maxim Rust
Instead of portraying the remnants of the Belarusian Homo sovieticus as a problem, we should see it as a challenge and potential advantage.


A new Georgia?
Kaja Puto
The more peripheral an Eastern European country is, the more vigorously it waves the European Union flag. Georgia waves it the most vigorously, even though it is located in Asia.


Seeking the ties that bind
Katarina Novikova and Wiktor Trybus


Tired of the status quo
An interview with Nikolay Artemenko


What is a Russian oligarch?
Sean Guillory
The use of the term “oligarch” or “oligarchy” in the Russian context speaks to debates about the very nature of the Russian political system.


Conspiracy theories and the fear of others
Ilya Yablokov


Has the war really changed Ukrainians?
Andriy Lyubka
Three years have passed since the onset of war in Ukraine. As a result some changes have occurred in the Ukrainian mentality but questions still remain: How deep are those changes? And what would it take for a reversal in attitudes towards the West?


Inside Ukraine’s ideological renewal
Nina Boichenko


Oxford on the Vistula
Jo Harper




A thief’s fear of punishment is incompatible with democracy
An interview with Anastasia Kirilenko


Not dedicated to big political visions
An interview with Jan Šerek




Polish encounters
Charles Gati
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s death this year is a huge loss to me and my wife. He was America’s greatest strategic thinker and had a significant impact on my professional life, as did many other Poles and Polish-Americans throughout the last 40 years or so.


Connecting histories and geographies. The Jews of Central Asia
Thomas Loy




On prayer and politics in the GDR
A conversation with Markus Meckel


Poland’s Protestant diversity
Andrzej Zaręba


The Reformation’s unexpected legacy in Ukraine
Kateryna Pryshchepa


The humble pastor
Naphtali Rivkin


Reviews and discussions


Whose hostages?
Yulia Oreshina


When hard words break democracy’s bones
Mateusz Mazzini


The neoliberal world was made for autocrats
Millie Radović


In Russia’s near abroad, storylines matter
Joseph Larsen


Feeling history, 70 years on
Paul Toetzke


Slavic geopolitics
Marek Wojnar




Joseph Conrad. A Polish and European writer
Kinga Anna Gajda


Wherever you may sail, you are always sailing towards Poland
A conversation with Professor Zdzisław Najder


The first transnational author
Laurence Davies


Lord Jim in the 21st Century
Gene M. Moore


Joseph Conrad and the East
Douglas Kerr 



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Issue 6 2016: Brave New Borders

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Five years since the first issue of New Eastern Europe, we return to the topic of that first issue: Borders. This issue, titled “Brave New Borders”, debates Europe as a border-free continent as well as offers analyses on the border changes 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. At that time new borders emerged. Not all of them, as Tom de Waal and Maciej Falkowski argue, fit the social context of the countries they are meant to demark. This, in turn, can spark conflicts and lead to separatist tendencies as well as other undesired developments.


Borders can also be rendered meaningless by massive migration movements, as Vesna Goldsworthy illustrates in the case of Great Britain and the Balkans. Memory can also create borders, it is argued by Ukrainian writer Andriy Lyubka who takes us on a journey to search Ovid’s traces in the places where the Roman poet spent his last days. Lastly, Ulrike Guérot (Germany) and Dániel Mikecz (Hungary) debate as to whether we are truly ready to live in a borderless world.

Clearly, the thematic scope of this issue goes beyond borders and includes the critical essays on the most current and pressing developments. They include Francisco de Borja Lasheras’ in depth analysis of the reform process (or lack thereof) in Ukraine and Taras Kuzio’s unmasking of Europe’s extreme politics rooted in Soviet narratives.


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Revenge of the border

Thomas de Waal


A journey upstream: New meanings of the border

Vesna Goldsworthy


In search of barbarians

Andriy Lyubka


Can we live in a borderless world?

Ulrike Guérot


Believe it or not: Borders ensure political action

Dániel Mikecz


Building co-existence: Part II

Krzysztof Czyżewski


The South Caucasus. A stable change

Maciej Falkowski


Reforming Ukraine in times of war and counter-revolution

Francisco de Borja Lasheras


At 25 is Ukraine any closer to Europe?

Joanna Fomina


Hybrid deportation from Crimea

Greta Uehling


Wine and geopolitics

Kamil Całus and Piotr Oleksy


The Mikhalkov-Putin syndrome

Leonidas Donskis


The Soviet roots of anti-fascism and antisemitism

Taras Kuzio


Russia’s complicated memory

Kacper Dziekan


London’s gift to Moscow

Grzegorz Kaliszuk


Armenia seeks to bolster its role as a transit state

Erik Davtyan


Central and Eastern European heritage in the Southern Cone

Stuart Feltis




The collapse of the Soviet Union was a miracle. The tragedy is taking place today

An interview with Serhii Plokhy


The Donetsk that we used to know no longer exists

An interview with Yuriy Temirov




The Balkan Route uncovered

Natasza Styczyńska and Omar Marques




Monument wars in the Baltic states

Aleksandra Kuczyńska-Zonik




A new national story?

Jean-Yves Potel


In the interest of freedom

Piotr Skwieciński




Good girls seldom make foreign policy

Iwona Reichardt




Between Ostpolitik and eastern policy

Paweł Kowal


Snapshots of Central Asia

Eimear O’Casey


Searching for shadows

Maxim Edwards


Energy quest for Belarus

Vytis Jurkonis




Why a good neighbourhood matters?

Paweł Kurant


We can be optimistic about the future

An interview with Adam Hamryszczak


On Polish-German relations during challenging times

Bartosz Rydliński


Preserving the unity of a fragmenting Europe

Kai-Olaf Lang


Borders of opportunity

Adriana Skorupska


Poniatowski in Leipzig

Konstantin Schoenfelde




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Issue 1 2017: The Art of Revolution

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In this issue we explore the phenomenon of Revolutions which has played a key role in this region for centuries: revolutions. We specifically look at the question as to whether revolution in Ukraine has become a permanent feature of that country’s political culture since independence 25 years ago. In this issue we return to the thesis that Paweł Kowal and Maciej Wapiński put forward three years ago in New Eastern Europe which adds the 1990 students’ hunger strike to the sequence of revolutionary events in Ukraine. Consequently, our authors map the country’s post-Soviet transformation through the prism of revolutionary events.


Naturally, political transformations, peaceful or not, have not been limited to Ukraine. They have been occurring in many areas of the post-Soviet space. This fact has been cherished in the West. However, the picture of Armenia, as penned down by Małgorzata Nocuń illustrates how such an assumption is not entirely correct. Even once a part of the same unit, we need to look at the post-Soviet republics as states that have taken different paths in the last decades and continue to experience different pressures from Russia. To understand this further we should cautiously follow the developments within them, as well as within Russia. A good start are three texts: Sean Guillory on the failure of the Russian protests to achieve any sustainable success, Daniel Wańczyk on the changes taking place in the life of the Arctic seen in the example of Vorkuta and Wojciech Siegień who notes the indoctrination through education that is now increasingly present in the Russian Federation.


We also take a look at the importance of Polish-Ukrainian relations in the future success of the region. These are mentioned in the pieces by Georges Mink, Kostiantyn Fedorenko and George Soroka. All the authors postulate on how painful historical memories still exist between the two nations and argue the need for their resolution. A review of the recent film Wołyń by Kaja Puto is an additional point in this debate.


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Three Revolutions. A research project

Georges Mink, Paweł Kowal


Once a protester, always a protester

Kateryna Pryshchepa


We were acting as neighbours, as friends of Ukraine

Interview with Valdas Adamkus


New tools of the revolution

Roman Romanyuk


Beyond Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Nataliya Zubar, Vitalii Ovcharenko


High stakes in Ukraine. From revolution to reform

Kostiantyn Fedorenko


Three myths of Ukraine’s revolutions

Nataliia Pohorila


What makes a revolution (or not)

Diāna Potjomkina and Ilvija Bruģe


Whatever happened to “Russia without Putin”?

Sean Guillory


Talkin’ bout a revolution

Małgorzata Nocuń


Kyrgyzstan: a revolutionary drama

Christopher Schwartz


Putin pushing the envelope

Anton Barbashin


Consequences of Putin’s disinformation war in Europe

David Matsaberidze


Making the unreal real

Wojciech Siegeń


Combative pasts. The politics of history in post-communist Europe

George Soroka


Laying the groundwork for reconciliation

Georges Mink





The shadow over Hungary’s history

An interview with Paul Lendvai


Shevardnadze could listen, but he did not hear

An interview with Nino Burjanadze





The black island of the Arctic

Daniel Wańczyk


Familiar strangers

Maxim Edwards





Rock of ages

Jonathan Bousfield


His Highness’s life. Parallel to reality

Andrzej Zaręba





Is it time to rebrand Eastern Europe?

A debate with Rebecca Harms, Balázs Jarábik, Cornelius Ochmann and Anastasia Sergeeva.





A film which divides Poles and Ukrainians

Kaja Puto


The spectre of neoliberalism

János Széky


A church for the state or churches for the people?

Przemysław Pazik


An unexpected focus on the South

Andriy Lyubka



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Issue 2 2017: Is the world turning upside down?

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If there is one phrase that is being repeated like a mantra in 2017, it is that “the world is upside down”. During public and private discussions from Warsaw to Prague, Berlin, Brussels, London and even Washington we see a growing sentiment that we can no longer make basic assumptions about the infallibility of liberal democracy. Of course, a lot of this sentiment is related to the rise of anti-liberal (or illiberal) populist forces in both the eastern and western parts of Europe (not to mention the United States) and the concerns that go along with this rise. There is no doubt that a real challenge to the current liberal democratic order is taking place, including in many countries of our region. Hence, the question that arises is – if the liberal democratic order is indeed no longer sound, what is the alternative?


This issue of New Eastern Europe debates the state of liberal democracy in Europe and specifically adds the voices from our region. We not only asked our authors to interpret the rise of populist, anti-liberal attitudes, but also present voices from those who do not think it is such a terrible thing. Agree with them or not, their arguments allow us to understand their perspective and force us to interpret why traditional, conservative politics are becoming more popular in Central and Eastern Europe. They also presents a certain reflection of similar processes taking place in the West, in such countries as France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or the United States. Lastly, the role of outside influence, like Russian propaganda, is also one that needs to be taken into account in this context.


These developments will also likely have an effect on Ukraine – a country which has declared a pro-European path but still struggles with its post-Soviet heritage. There is no question that Ukraine’s success directly depends upon how politics develops in the West. That is why this issue looks at the process, or lack thereof, of de-oligarchisation, the fight against corruption, the situation of the Crimean Tatars and the current state of Polish-Ukrainian relations.










No alternative to liberal democracy? - Samuel Abrahám


Illiberalism - György Schöpflin


Illiberal winds from the East - Bartosz Rydliński


Europe needs a return to its true values - Boško Obradović


A far right hijack of Intermarium - Matthew Kott


The world is fundamentally changing - Raivis Zeltīts


Facts need to matter, no matter what - Mateusz Mazzini and Miłosz Wiatrowski


Homo politicus, Homo passionis - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska


The five rings of the empire - Paweł Kowal


Chaos or Stability - Marcin Kaczmarski


The abandonment of Ukraine? - David R. Marples


The oligarchs strike back - Tadeusz Iwański


Crimean Tatars losing hope - Ridvan Bari De Urcosta


Celebrating diversity in Kyiv - Anna Kotaleichuk


Georgia’s unwavering or unravelling pro-European direction - Eugene Kogan




Mariupol on the edge of war - Wojciech Koźmic




I am personally very Euro-optimistic - An interview with Andrii Deshchytsia


Poland fully supports the Ukrainian cause - An interview with Jan Piekło




Russia between revolutions - A conversation with Sylwia Frołow


Doroshenko’s third way - Tomasz Targański




Integration starts at home - Anna Fedas


The story of Poland’s multinational history - Elżbieta Ciborska


Estonia faces challenges both old and new with integration efforts - Michael Amundsen




How Russia understands international law - Przemysław Roguski


Caught in the storyline - Kacper Dziekan


Through Crimea with Eldar - Wojciech Siegień


Forgotten heroes of a forgotten war - Andrzej Zaręba


A Ukrainian miracle - Olena Pavlova




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