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The continued retreat of democracy in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia?

The author of this informative analysis, one that is especially enlightening for the reader who does not have a familiarity with the states formerly incorporated in the Soviet Union much beyond perhaps Russia and Ukraine, is a retired U. S. career ambassador with extensive experience in the area. His survey of the region, including former Bloc members, begins with the fabled breakup of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. It traces in outline the ups and downs of democratic influence in the newly independent states, as well as in Bloc member states.

And ups and downs there have been. One example of an "up," early on, was the access of states formerly under the close control of the Soviet Union to the European Union. Such successes, recounted in some detail in this article, in some cases have proven to be temporary or even virtually illusory. An example: Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has profited from Western intervention and assistance over recent years but which now shows signs of reverting to ethnic violence.

Former Soviet republics constitute, to this reviewer, the most interesting grouping covered, given their recent close rule from Moscow and the fact that Russia itself has enjoyed little or no democratization since the Soviet breakup. Using Ukraine as an example, Ambassador Basora traces recent developments there and remains slightly optimistic about its future. Other relatively new national entities, all existing under the sway of Moscow and Russia and its implacable opposition to democratization, have alternated between advancing and retreating on a march toward democracy. The prospects are decidedly mixed, as the author quite lucidly points out.

Reviewed by Henry E. Mattox, contributing editor

By Amb. Adrian A. Basora (Foreign Policy Research Institute)
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Author:Mattox, Henry E.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 11, 2007
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