After the Wall Came Down


A crowd holding roses while soldiers stand watching © Peter Turnley/Getty Thirty years ago, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the journalist Tim Judah arrived as a young reporter in Bucharest. But where does Romania—and the entire former Eastern Bloc—stand now, some 30 years later? That was the question Judah explored for the Open Society Foundations, and it’s what he asked veteran and younger activists in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania. The answers he found were no less varied, complicated, or fascinating than the region itself. Facebook Twitter

Voices

Hungary

“If the cause is right, there is no room for fear.”

Márta Pardavi In 1989, the momentum for political reform in Hungary was gathering pace. It would soon be unstoppable. By 2010, though, that era of optimism was long over—and the ascendancy of Prime Minister Viktor Orban had begun. Orban’s rise, and his notion of an “illiberal democracy,” has raised a profound question: What kind of democracy do the people of Hungary want their country to be? Facebook Twitter Slovakia

“We have democracy, but it is not working.”

Martin Bútora As Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution” unfolded in 1989, the eyes of the world were fixed on Prague. But the first protest actually occurred in Bratislava. Since that heady time, Slovak democracy has been hindered by cronyism, selective justice, and corruption. And yet things are changing, and a better kind of democracy is slowly but surely coming into focus. Facebook Twitter Romania

“Something that looks perfectly stable today can fall to pieces tomorrow.”

Oana Popescu Anyone in Romania old enough to remember can recall exactly where they were at different moments of the December 1989 revolution. But deciding what it all meant is a different story. Romania today is a different place than it was under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship. The nature of that difference is still up for debate. Facebook Twitter Czech Republic

“Seventy or eighty percent of Czech society, they support LGBT people, so it’s different and better.”

David Tišer It took only a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall before the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia was complete. But for many young people in the Czech Republic today, the Communist era may as well be ancient history. And the issues that engage them most—such as the environment and LGBTI rights—align with their self-perception as part of a globalized world. Facebook Twitter After the Wall Came Down

George Soros Reflects on 1989

George Soros At a time when few expected the defeat of Soviet rule in Central and Eastern Europe, George Soros saw reason for hope. Now, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soros reflects on the significance of that historic moment, and the work that continues today. Facebook Twitter If this message was forwarded to you, please sign up for future updates. Twitter Instagram Facebook YouTube LinkedIn © 2019 Open Society Foundations.
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