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Media reports on the Balkan wars brought for the first time news of widespread rape-practices to the public’s attention. By disentangling the heady mix of nationalism, chauvinism, ethnicity and gender construction, Vesna Kesic asks however, how far we really have advanced in our attitudes towards rape and institutionalised violence against women.

A Growing Gap

Thoughts on the current transatlantic relations

The conflict between Europe and America is a reality. At this point it consists mostly of differences of opinion, but the continents are drifting apart, and a larger break is not unthinkable any more. Impressions of travel and time travel by Michael Freund.

The rise of the NGOs in recent years has raised various new problems, most pressingly that of the “democratisation paradox”: Whilst the NGOs ultimate aim is to promote democratic structures in respective countries, their own structures remain relatively unaccountable and undemocratic. Other questions concern the sharing of power between NGOs and democratically elected chambers and the influence NGOs are able to exert over them. Claus Leggewie looks at the complex mechanisms involved and proposes ways out of the legitimation crisis.

The participation of the author in a symposium on literature and the media, organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (Polish equivalent of the Cervantes Institute) has inspired this contribution to the eternal debate about criticism. In it, Mihály Dés reexamines the role of the critic and of literary criticism, a role, he argues, that remains as important as ever.

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.”

Yaroslav Shimov analyses the situation of the “Middle Europe” countries during the Habsburg monarchy and today, at the onset of their integration into the European Union. How can this future be envisaged and what can be learned from the past? Shimov argues that these countries must retain their unique identities in a united Europe.

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.

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