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At the recent NATO summit, several countries – including Slovakia and the Czech Republic – were invited to join. Martin Simecka has observed the action behind the scenes of the official programme.

The dilemma of Europe

An attempt to speak about freedom and its relationship to legitimacy

The question of the legitimacy of the European institutions remains an unanswered problem. Frantisek Sebej argues from the viewpoint of the Slovak Republic that the EU – for its own good – should not gain in political strength before questions of devolvement of power between nation states and EU institutions have been adequately addressed.

Eurolocal perspectives towards the EU

Imagining the European Union as a nation-state

This text, first published in 2002, describes how in Bulgaria, the EU has replaced the nation state as a symbol of authority. Even local history and culture is being embedded and rewritten in the context of European cultural history. Nevertheless, regional identity won’t get lost, argues the author, since regions “are a configuration of different liminalities enveloping spatial zones of different sizes that overlap and accrue, providing different options.”

It is widely recognised that the international labour movement is in profound crisis. Most trade unions seem to be stuck in a nostalgic, ideological past without realising the need for more networking and dialogue in the global and neo-liberal world order of today. Peter Waterman analyses the failings of the past and proposes changes for the future.

Richard Hyman discusses the concept of “solidarities” with regard to trade unions. Once the bastion of “solidarity” for the workers’ collective good, they too have to adopt to changes in the workplace, shifting alliances and new realities. As the traditional models of work (and workers) disappear, how can trade unions adopt and what changes do they need to implement?

The Myth of Two Ukraines

A Commentary on Mykola Riabchuk's "Ukraine: One State, two Countries"?

Most intellectuals agree that Ukraine is dramatically polarized along an East-West axis. The differences manifest themselves in linguistic differences and cultural orientation, especially however in different interpretations of the national history. How can this split be overcome in order to avoid a drifting apart between the ‘europeanized’ West and the more ‘russified’ East?

Why Ukrainians Are Ukrainians

A Commentary on Mykola Riabchuk's "Ukraine: One State, two Countries"?

Roman Szporluk comments in this text on Mykola Riabchuk’s concept of ‘ambivalence’ in the Ukraine. The divide betweeen Western and Eastern Ukraine and the resulting ‘ambivalence’ have to be understood in more historical terms: Ukraine has only existed as a political entity since 1991 in contrast to other post – Soviet countries.Therefore, nation building and the emergence of a civil society will take more time.

Political ambivalence as a socio-political phenomenon characterizes virtually every post-communist country but especially the Ukraine. Here, the country’s regional, cultural and linguistic discrepancies and the atomizing impact of Soviet totalitarianism on Ukrainian society serve to explain the deep socio-political rifts within. Mykola Riabchuk argues that the post-Soviet elite currently in power cunningly uses this situation for its political survival. Will the Ukraine be able to overcome this ambivalence and usher into an era of more democratic plurality and subsequent unity?

Sergei Parkhomenko argues that a new middle class is emerging in Russia but its definition depends on much more than just economic factors. A changing self-perception plays a vital part in reshaping the economic and social structures of the Soviet Union. How will this affect the democratisation of the Russian society?

Maya Turovskaya examines what constituted the “Soviet middle class’s survival kit” in the Soviet Union: In a society in which even basic commodities had to secured through a series of complex and lengthy exchanges, not luxury goods but the enjoyment of culture was at the core of the middle class identity.

This article investigates the point made my Maya Turovskaya in her article “The Soviet Middle Class”. Frumkina argues that while culture was a central concern, cultural status could not necessarily be conversted into commodities and services.

What is the current state of globalisation, how are we to understand the processes involved and where will a globalised world system lead us? These are some of the questions Boaventura de Sousa Santos aims to elucidate in a thorough and wide ranging essay.
Arguing that our current globalisation is indeed something unparalleled in history, Santos discusses the unequal economic and political realities between North and South which globalisation enforces. Globalisation is to be understood as a non-linear process marked by contradictory yet parallel discourses and varying levels of intensity and speed. Even states however have to adopt as the supremacy of the nation state is eroded, giving way to new transnational alliances and the convergence of the judicial systems as the supreme regulator of a globalised economy. Will all these processes usher into a new model of social development, or will this lead to the crisis of the world system as others fear?

The End of Illiberal Democracy in Slovakia?

An Analysis of the 1998 Election

As Slovakia is about to go to the polls in September, Samuel Abraham looks back at the pivotal elections of 1998. These elections, Abraham argues, signalled an end to the era of the “illiberal democracy” under Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. But what has the current government learned from these elections and how well has it fulfilled its mandate?

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