Politics & Business

EASTERN EUROPE AFTER 1989: A REGION IN-BETWEEN

1989 is still an actual issue, one of the most evident proofs of it is the 25th anniversary of the most significant event in the history of Eastern Europe: the Fall of Berlin Wall. The political, historical and economic events which can be associated with this period have resulted in a transition which is still valid in the contemporary social and cultural sciences.

Regarding the last few years, we can confirm that it was more than a simple commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Wall. Through the distance of a quarter century we are already able to see its process and effects on the eastern Europe societies from critical point of view, and the disorder in the new world order.

Twenty-six years are already enough time and distance to analyze the goals and expectations, to see which of them have been realized, which reforms were successful and which were not. Unfortunately, not everything happened like we imagined in ’89. Putin's Russia, the pro-market reforms , the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and now the crisis in Europe due to migration, have all left theirs mark on the once so-called ’Eastern Bloc’and rotate the wheel of history backwards.

Despite the crisis of our days, we can confirm that the transition was quite particular and had several characteristics which made it unique in history. We can say that it was a kind of revolution without violence, a revolution which went ahead in a peaceful way, without military interventions or pressure of foreign forces.

Another special characteristic is the parallelism between different sectors: the changes went trough the economy, political relations, legal systems and social stratification, all at the same time, the transformation into capitalism and democracy.

The next particular mark of this process it is the velocity. It was surprisingly quick as it did not take more than ten-fifteen years. This velocity was thanks to the fact that people felt eager to react immediately to the changes, and they also had the talent and willingness to undertake economical initiatives and start new enterprises. In the post-communist countries a lot of limits were set by bureaucracy and the main ideology of the regime, and these walls have fallen down from one moment to the next, so the business talent and initiative skills of the people could come out.

The illusion that this transition is going to lead to the liberty in capitalist system has remained a utopia. A lot of things have changed in these States, in the life of their citizens: some of them could earn more money than before ’89, a few of them earned less money, and there were people who had to live in worse conditions than before. But one thing was certain: the unemployment has increased throughout this area, and due to this the gap between the social classes has gotten deeper. Before ’89 the State could take care of its citizens and give work for everybody, but with the changes it could not guarantee secure workplaces for everybody anymore. Due to the appearance of foreign investments, salaries were less equal than before.

After ’89 the former socialist countries believed to have joined to a kind of universal liberal democracy that for many of them meant the Western capitalist economic model. But it is more a model of global integration of whom these states have joined, it is more a model which is based on a competitive attitude. There are three main parts of this program: the NATO, the International Monetary Fund and The European Union.

Even if a lot of expectations have not come true in every aspect, and the current situation in post-communist countries are not as people imagined during revolutionary the waves at the the beginning of Nineties, we cannot deny that this transition had a world-historical importance.

And what will the future bring? According to economists, the transformation, and the convergence into the western market economic model will continue, because the social gains surpass the overall social costs, and the number of winners is higher than those that lost something due to this change. In many countries, however, the subjective public opinion shows the opposite. But the future is unpredictable, another twenty-six years may pass before we appreciate it.

About The Author

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Zsófia Máthé

Zsófia Máthé is a student currently in Hungary. Before she has been living in Italy for more than 3 years where she got her master degree in field of Visual Arts and Science of New Media. Her interest about communication and journalism is coming from these years, thanks to that multicultural environment in which she used to live and meet amazing people and their interesting stories about themselves, their country, culture and belief.

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