In the autumn of 1989 Eastern and Central Europe became a real part of Europe again. Let’s Open Up to the World was a key slogan of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution and we believe that the best way of preventing the anniversary from slipping into cheap nostalgia and turning into a sentimental walk down the memory lane is to embrace the international context, especially the one the countries of this region have shared since 1989.
The civic association Project Forum has invited a few dozen renowned writers, academics as well as several politicians representing various generations, experience, language and opinions, to come to Bratislava to discuss some of the key problems facing Central Europe today. Discussion topics will range from the way the totalitarian (fascist and communist) past impinges on the democratic present; treatment of minorities, particularly our largest common minority, the Roma; the corruption of the elites, the independence or – as the case may be – dependence of the media and new manifestations of populism, through to the future of democracy buffetted by the global economic crisis.
The newly democratic countries that have joined the European Union seem to be increasingly exhausted as they succumb to growing populism, corruption, racism and chauvinism. Even the Anglosaxon model of market economics – the one thing we have embraced without difficulty – does not seem to be working any longer. In short, everything we have taken for granted only a few years ago has started to fragment and lose validity.
Central Europe needs new intellectual energy. The Central European Forum offers a platform for rigorous debate without any ideological barriers.