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  • Author: Veronica Mihalache
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: This paper brings into discussion a concept that has not yet been distinctively and uniquely defined but which, at the same time, can be considered a classical one, thanks to the establishment of the theoretical basis of the social frameworks of memory in 1925 by the sociologist Maurice Halbwachs. Basically, any past memory reaches the fields of human memory causing a process of perpetual transformation. The social frameworks of memory are pieces of collective memory, past memories that are dominant and persistent in time, which offer explicit historical and social coordinates that lead to the interpretation of the past and the orientation of present values. Both public and collective environments offer the individual social and historical coordinates as well as a certain orientation of these values, an implicit ideology, so that the individual is influenced, and in time, even shaped by these coordinates and values that are implicitly transmitted by the social fields of memory.
  • Topic: Sociology, Memory, Identities, Values
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ieva Gajauskaite
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: Lithuania is a small state by objective features (population, territory, GDP) and subjective ones (geopolitical position, resilience from external security threats, national identity). The goal of this research is to define the main roles of Lithuania, which are relevant to the Lithuanian foreign policy decision-making process nowadays. Those roles are the structure for Lithuania’s new President Gitanas Nausėda. While during his presidency he will have the possibility to modify them, for now for the roles formed and enacted over the last ten years serve as the limits of the change of the policy in the Euro-Atlantic area. The main assumption regarding the roles of Lithuania in the Euro-Atlantic area is that policymakers emphasize the smallness of the state. Accordingly, being a small state is translated to a set of expected and appropriate behavior. Therefore, the classical definition of smallness suggests that Lithuania’s roles should include the strategies of hiding and appeal to democratic values. In order to deny or confirm the assumptions, the research includes the definition of small states, an analysis of small state foreign policy strategies, the main thesis of the Role theory, the theoretical basis of subjective smallness concept, and discussion of Lithuania’s roles in the Euro-Atlantic area, using an interpretive methodology of Social constructivism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Small states, Constructivism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Lithuania, Baltic States
  • Author: Adrian Popa, Cristian Barna
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: Russia’s recent buildup of A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) forces in Crimea and Kaliningrad, coupled with its increasingly confronting rhetoric in the Black and Baltic Seas, pose a serious challenge for the NATO’s Eastern flank countries. While the mare sui generis status of the Black Sea might be altered under the expected inauguration of Canal Istanbul in 2023 as it would probably require the revision of the Montreux Convention, the mare liberum status of the Baltic Sea might also be questioned as Russia contests NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in this region. Facing this challenging geostrategic context, Pilsudski’s ideas of Intermarium seem to have revived within the Central and Eastern European countries under modern interfaces such as the Bucharest Nine and the Three Seas Initiative. This paper proposes a comparative analysis between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea in terms of their newly-emerged geostrategic context, discusses the feasibility of the recent endeavours to promote cooperation within the Central and Eastern European countries and not ultimately, highlights the utility of a regional military alliance in support of NATO.
  • Topic: NATO, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Crimea, Baltic Sea, Baltic States
  • Author: Weronika Michalak, Dr hab. Zbigniew Karaczun
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: The phenomenon of climate change, observed for years and constantly intensifying, has had a negative impact on health, significantly deteriorating the quality of life of people in many regions of the world, including Poland. Already now we are dealing with increasingly frequent extreme weather phenomena; hurricanes, storms and increasingly longer heat waves no longer surprise us. Unfortunately, this is merely the beginning of the negative effects of climate change. Others will come before long. In the coming years, many other new threats will be observed, such as flooding of ocean islands, desertification of areas exposed to water scarcity or serious loss of biodiversity, which will translate into food security. Unfortunately, it does not end there.1 The greenhouse effect is a process by which radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. We can differentiate short-term solar radiation (0.15-4.0 nm) and long-term radiation. Thermal radiation escapes into the cosmic sphere and heat radiation returns to the ground, being stopped by a layer of GHG – greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, water vapor etc.), which warm up Earth’s athmosphere to a dangerous level – even a 1°C degree increase (in comparison to pre-industrial level, when emissions stared to rise) in the average world temperature can be detrimental to human health and change the conditions of life on this planet (Figure 1). However, we currently face a risk of global warming even up to 3°C degrees, unless GHG emissions are significantly reduced. Any further rise of the global temperature will have deteriorating impact on people and whole humanity, as well as staying at the current level of emissions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Food, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Global Focus
  • Author: Gordon S. Bardos
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: The decline in the number of Balkan jihad volunteers setting off for the Islamic State over the past couple of years should not lull observers into the belief that the threat posed by the militant Islamist movement in southeastern Europe has declined as well. In fact, the collapse of the Caliphate might increase the threat in the Balkans; as Bajro Ikanović, a Bosnian extremist warned, “your intelligence agencies made a mistake thinking that they would be rid of us, however, the problem for them will be the return of individuals trained for war.” Ikanović himself will not be carrying out this threat, however, because he was killed in Syria, but no doubt many of his comrades feel the same way.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Europe, Bosnia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Alfonsas Eidintas
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the independent states of Poland and Lithuania, we will return to a fundamental question, namely, whether the relationship between our contemporary states, which had already become hostile during the restoration process, is a time of missed opportunities? Or maybe the interests of both sides were simply so different that it was impossible for them to agree on a matter of major importance – state territory (partly also on the issue of national minorities) – and to balance their interests, thus avoiding conflict and a particularly hostile bilateral relationship which lasted until the tragic developments for both Poland and Lithuania in 1939-1940, when our countries fell victim to two tyrants.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Minorities, Conflict, State Building
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland, Lithuania
  • Author: Aleksandra Gryzlak
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: From the very beginnings of Soviet rule in Georgia, the communists were not very popular throughout Georgian society and treated as occupants. Almost all active forms of resistance ceased to exist after the bloody suppression of the August Uprising of 19241. The massive purge of the Georgian intelligentsia that followed deprived the nation of its patriotic elites. Only after the death of Stalin and in the wake of Nikita Khrushchev’s famous speech in 1956, did the situation change. Khrushchev’s words of accusation and criticism, leveled at Stalin for his cult of personality and other mistakes, were treated in Georgia as an attack on their nation and an element of Russian chauvinism. It gave rise to a series of mass protests in Tbilisi in March 1956, that were brutally dispersed by the army. Approxi- mately 150 people died as a result2. During the 1950s and 60s, Vasilii Mzhavanadze was the leader of the Georgian Com- munist Party. In keeping with Khrushchev’s strategy of somewhat reduced control over the national republics, one could observe a consolidation of power by the ruling elite in Geor- gia3. This led to the spread of corruption, bribery and other illegal economic operations. Despite a weak economy, according to official statistics, the average Georgian’s savings in the 1970s were nearly twice that of the average Russian. Also, during this time, a very high number of educated specialists – who while graduating, did not take job assignments were still able to live reasonably well. Another phenomenon characteristic for the 1950s and 60s was a growing sense of nationalism. Symptoms of this included a relatively small number of national minority representatives able to gain access to higher education in the Georgian Republic, as well as clear-cut Georgian control over local and national party structures. The situation did not change after the fall of Khrushchev.4 Only in the early 1970s, did things start to change. In 1972, the key position of the First Secretary of the Georgian Communist Party was passed to the former Minister of the Inte- rior – Eduard Shevardnadze, who began his rule with a broad campaign against corruption, overgrown bureaucracy, nepotism, and the so-called “second economy” (black market). Harsh administrative methods used in this campaign brought some positive effects – especially in the agricultural sector – but also resulted in a negative reaction from Georgian society5. Shevardnadze was also supposed to fight against growing Georgian nationalism. Campaigns, that condemned such things as reluctance to learn Russian lan- guage and promotion of national chauvinism in culture, were initiated. The teaching cur- riculum of the subject of history was also put under siege by the new authorities.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Communism, Corruption, Human Rights, Nationalism, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, Georgia
  • Author: Hubert A. Janiszewski
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: The Polish banking sector, at the outset of the Balcerowicz reform plan, was com- posed of the central bank (NBP), 9 regional commercial banks (which had spun out from NBP back in 1988): the state savings bank – PKO BP; the state bank handling foreign com- merce – Bank Handlowy SA; the state bank handling retail foreign exchange transfers – PeKaO SA; the state bank for financing the agriculture sector – BGZ; and a number of small cooperative banks – BRE SA a bank financing export industries established in 1986; and a single private bank, albeit with equity provided by state enterprises – BIG SA. The Ministry of Finance faced a formidable task, firstly to restructure the banking sec- tor – primarily commercial banks and at a later stage privatize the whole sector in order to i.a make it market oriented, flexible and serve large chunks of the rapidly privatizing economy as well as to cater to the needs of the population. It should be stressed – to give the full description of the sector, that the percentage of bad loans in all the above-mentioned banks (except BIG, BRE and probably PKO BP) was between 30 to 50% of their portfolios! It was therefore decided by Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz and his key staff, that prior to their privatization, restructuring of the banks was the key for their success. The major problem with restructuring was a lack of funding, which was not available as the Polish state was bankrupt and private resources were by far too small, and politi- cally inaccessible; moreover the parliament would not allow creation of additional debt by way of equity injections to the ailing banking sector. Under those difficult conditions Balcerowicz managed to pass through parliament a set of legislation on restructuring the economy including banks, which allowed for the provision of banks with so-called restructuring bonds (a special law had been enacted called the “Law on financial restructuring of banks and enterprises”) to strengthen their balance sheets and force them to individually, over time, repay such new debts. In order to guide and help the banks with the restructuring, with the assistance of the British Government, the so-called British Know How Fund was created, whose purpose was to provide professional advice and assistance to all commercial banks. This advice was strengthened by a so-called “twinning arrangement”, under which each of the nine commercial banks was provided with a “twin partner” in the form of an established western bank. Among the banks that participated in this scheme were the Allied Irish Bank (twinned to WBK based in Poznan), ING (Bank Śląski in Katowice) and the Midland Bank (Bank Za- chodni in Wroclaw). The whole operation was launched in early 1990 and was completed by early 1993, thus most of the commercial banks were potentially ”ready” for privatization with substan- tially improved balance sheets. Parallel to the above, all the other banks embarked on the restructuring of their balance sheets, if only in order to stay competitive in the market.
  • Topic: Privatization, Finance, State Capitalism, Banking
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland
  • Author: Boguslaw Wind
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: Thank you very much for the invitation and thank you for allowing me to speak to you about the United Nations and its role in Central and Eastern Europe. This is probably the first time in the history of our conference that we are discussing the United Nations. I will argue that there is a lot that we as Eastern Europeans can do together and how our coop- eration within the UN can be more fruitful and useful for all. I would like to first discuss how we can cooperate better in the General Assembly, Security Council and the United Nations Secretariat. Where are the opportunities? Where are the challenges? What else should we consider and be aware of? Let us begin with the historical context: what has been the role of the UN for Central and Eastern European countries? During the communist era, we were denied indepen- dence or sovereignty, thus the real interests of our countries were not represented on the global stage. There were of course communist embassies, very close coordination with Soviet diplomats, and weekly or even daily instructions coming from Moscow. This was the case until 1989. Then communism collapsed and our countries regained their inde- pendence and sovereignty. Initially, in the early 1990s, the UN was visibly present in East- ern Europe as a result of civil wars and ethnic conflicts. UN peacekeepers were a familiar sight, serving on various missions seeking to reestablish peace and stability. Then, I would argue, the role of the United Nations in our regional diplomacy and politics declined as the 20th century drew to a close and the 21st century began. This was due to the very powerful roles played by the European Union, NATO and the OSCE. These organizations eclipsed in importance the seemingly distant United Nations in New York City. Now, the situation is changing again, and we are witnessing a resurgence of the UN’s impact on Polish and European diplomacy. The UN is gradually reestablishing its role as useful platform through which Poland can play an active and leading role in promoting the political and economic interests of our region. It is particularly noteworthy that the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz spent the majority of May 2018 in New York – not enjoying the beautiful Big Apple, but working long hours, leading the various debates within the Security Council – giving Polish foreign policy a critical platform on the world stage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland
  • Author: Stefan Kawalec
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: Poland was the first country of the Soviet bloc in which a non-communist government was created following the period of the cold war. This was the government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki called into being on September 12, 1989. The government announced imme- diately that the economic system would be changed. The government did not propose a third way. It said that a market economy would be introduced, based on private ownership with a freely exchangeable currency. After this transformation of the socialist economy into a capitalist economy was announced, the government acted very quickly to realize this goal. The change of the economic system entailed a great undertaking, consisting of the creation of a banking system adapted to the needs of a market economy. In the socialist economy, there was no money in the true sense of the word. Money served only a certain limited purpose related to the distribution of consumer goods, but not for all such goods. A significant portion of consumer goods were distributed through the use of ration cards, special coupons or through informal channels such as sales made under the counter. En- terprises had their inputs and outputs rationed. The simple fact that an enterprise had złotys on its account did not give the enterprise the right to buy the necessary goods, if the rights to obtain such goods were not included in the appropriate distribution list. Having złotys was also insufficient for purchasing goods from abroad. For that one needed foreign currency -- which also was rationed in accordance with the distribution lists.
  • Topic: Communism, Democracy, Finance, Banking
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Poland