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Author: Iwona Reichardt

We need innovation and courage to rejuvenate democracy

A conversation with Basil Kerski, director of the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: With 2020 behind us, we are now entering into the third decade of the 21st century. There is a sense that the beginning of each decade can indicate a certain change which determines the years to come. 1989 and 1991 marked the beginning of a new post-Cold War order; the first decade of the 21st century was marked by the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001; while the second decade of this century started a bit earlier, with the 2008 financial crisis. This time we have the COVID-19 pandemic which started in 2020. In a way, all of these events were surprises as well….

BASIL KERSKI: It is hard to say whether decades are a good measure to describe political and economic phenomena, but let's say that this is some sort of ordering perspective. We must distinguish between two things. First, the breakthrough events are always preceded by some processes that are visible and predictable. Only then, do we see their effects. When it comes to 1989 and 1991, I think that the process that everyone had expected was the democratisation of Central Europe.

February 3, 2021 - Basil Kerski Iwona Reichardt

The failure in binary thinking about Belarus

For the last 25 years Belarus has been the greatest victim to stereotypes. This “last dictatorship in Europe” has been often presented vis-à-vis other “democraticising” post-Soviet states. This optic of presenting Belarus based on black and white; or good and bad terms failed to explain what was really taking place within this country’s borders. Yet, it explains why so many western analysts did not predict the social changes that we are now witnessing in Belarus.

In recent months we have seen numerous conferences, articles and discussions with a variation of the title “Belarus. An unexpected revolution”. Through them western analysts and policy-makers who were once calling Belarus the last dictatorship in Europe, are now looking for answers on whether and when the people’s revolution will succeed. They typically start their analysis with questions such as “Why now?” or “Where did this sudden awaking of the Belarusian society come from?”

February 3, 2021 - Iwona Reichardt Maxim Rust

The transformation as a learning process

A conversation with Andrew Nagorski, journalist, writer and chairman of the board of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: Let us start with the memories of a reporter. For many years, you were working for the American press. When was your first encounter with the communist system here in the region?

ANDREW NAGORSKI: My first encounter was as an exchange student at the Jagiellonian University in 1968. After graduating from college and teaching history in the United States, I joined Newsweek in 1973. Eventually I ended up being stationed in Moscow from 1981, but after 14 months the Kremlin decided they did not want me and expelled me. At that point I went to Rome where I was covering the Vatican, including Pope John Paul II. As lovely as that assignment was, I really wanted to get back to covering this region. I ended up going to our regional hub in Bonn in 1985 and from there I started going in and out of all the countries of the then Soviet Bloc.

April 6, 2020 - Andrew Nagorski Iwona Reichardt

We do not have another motherland

Interview with Alim Aliev, a program director at the Crimean House. Interviewers: Iwona Reichardt and Margarita Novikova.

February 5, 2020 - Alim Aliev Iwona Reichardt Margarita Novikova

Another chapter in the Belarusian-Russian integration process 

Interview with Anna Maria Dyner on the regional context of the upcoming meeting between presidents Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt.

December 6, 2019 - Anna Maria Dyner Iwona Reichardt

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

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

Failure in the Western Balkans means a failure of the European project

Interview with Florent Marciacq, a senior fellow at the Centre international de formation européenne. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

May 24, 2019 - Florent Marciacq Iwona Reichardt

We have an obligation and moral duty towards our partners in the East

Interview with Jacek Sutryk, Mayor of the city of Wrocław. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: This year we are celebrating ten years of the Eastern Partnership, an important initiative aimed at integrating six Eastern European states with the European community. The implementation of this policy takes place on different levels, including that of local government. Wrocław, the city that you preside over, has a long history of co-operation with Eastern Europe and initiated numerous programmes in states such as Ukraine. How do you evaluate the Eastern Partnership from the perspective of local government?

JACEK SUTRYK: The Eastern Partnership has significantly contributed to bringing closer together and integrating the Eastern European and South Caucuses states with the European Union. Local governments play a very important role in this process. At this level a real interaction between nations takes place. Based on European values, standards and norms, we are developing co-operation in areas such as human rights, market economy, sustainable development and others. At the local level, the Eastern Partnership has also led to the development and strengthening of contacts between different institutions and NGOs.

May 2, 2019 - Iwona Reichardt Jacek Sutryk

Local governments are the foundation of democracy

A conversation from 2016 with Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of the city of Gdańsk. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

January 15, 2019 - Iwona Reichardt

There is clear progress in Ukraine

Interview with Paweł Kowal, a post-doctoral fellow at the College of Europe in Natolin and former Member of the European Parliament. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

November 26, 2018 - Iwona Reichardt Paweł Kowal

The EU should take Belarus more seriously

An interview with Balázs Jarábik, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Interviewers: Iwona Reichardt and Daniel Gleichgewicht of New Eastern Europe

NEW EASTERN EUROPE: You recently attended the high-level Minsk Dialogue Forum. Among the speakers was Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. How do you interpret his participation in this event that gathers international experts and representatives of the third sector? What kind of message did he intend to send to the wider world?

BALÁZS JARÁBIK: The most important thing was the fact that he attended a civil society conference. As far as I am aware, this was his first such occurrence. It certainly illustrated how the attitude of the regime is slowly changing vis-à-vis civil society in Belarus. Currently there are several interesting areas internally where co-operation is moving and where the government is beginning to understand the value of civil society.

September 2, 2018 - Balazs Jarabik Daniel Gleichgewicht Iwona Reichardt

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