25 Years After 1989:
Reflections on Unfinished Revolutions
As one reflects twenty-five years after the revolutions of 1989–91 and the collapse of the Soviet Union—bringing an end to Soviet communism in the region—it is obvious that a great deal was left unfinished from that era. Indeed, today we are witnessing an attempt by the Russian Federation to reverse some of the fundamental outcomes of that transformation. Even before recent events, however, it was clear that the larger promise and hopes of the 1989-91 transformations remained unfulfilled, not just in many of the independent countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union, but also in East Central European, Baltic, and Balkan countries, all of which continue to face serious challenges remaining from the legacy of the communist period and the initial transition period. These factors are significant as the world confronts a revisionist Russian Federation seeking to reassert its dominance over the region.
The 25th anniversary of the events of 1989–91 provides an opportunity to analyze what occurred, to assess the different outcomes across the region, and to develop ideas and strategies for taking on the unfinished business of that era. Towards that end, IDEE organized a unique seminar in Warsaw on October 3–5, 2014 under the title “25 Years After 1989: Time for Reflection on Unfinished Business,” gathering 22 veterans of the 1989-91 revolutions who continue to play significant roles in their countries’ politics to address these issues.
IDEE has published a Special Report of the seminar, “25 Years After 1989: Reflections on Unfinished Revolutions,” as well as a special issue of IDEE’s journal Uncaptive Minds, under the same title, which provides the full edited proceedings of the seminar. Within the Special Report, an Executive Summary offers the most important findings and recommendations of the participants. A description of the presentations and dialogue follows that offers key observations of the seminar participants. The full papers, responses, and dialogue among participants are presented in the special issue of Uncaptive Minds. IDEE also offers the individual Seminar Papers, which provide country case studies according to the different themes of the seminar, for download. Together, these offer exceptional analyses, insights, and prescriptions for addressing the continuing complexities of the post-communist countries and for fulfilling the greater democratic promise of the 1989–91 era.
IDEE Special Report (full)
Seminar Proceedings (full)
Table of Contents and Introduction
Revolution, Evolution, or Devolution
Constitutions, Electoral Choices & Their Consequences
Post-communist Development of Political Parties
Panel: What is the Unfinished Business
Decommunization and Transitional Justice
Civic Institutions, Citizens’ Participation
What Happened to the Dream of Independent Media?
Closing Session: What is the Unfinished Business?
Profiles of Participants and Program