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New Left Review 99, May-June 2016

joachim becker


There was a bullish mood in Berlin in November 2014, as the authorities marked the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s demise; elsewhere in the region, however, the celebrations were more subdued. The new capitalist era in Central and Eastern Europe has now lasted well over half the life-span of the centrally planned economies, yet there is no clear consensus on how its outcomes should be appraised. An examination of the entire region—from Dresden to Donetsk, Tallinn to Skopje and Sofia—lies beyond the scope of this essay, which will concentrate instead on a more limited group of nine countries: the former German Democratic Republic (gdr), the Visegrád states (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic), the Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and Slovenia. These states were put on the fast track towards integration with the European Union from an early stage: East Germany was absorbed by its western neighbour in a matter of months, while the others joined the eu at the first opportunity in 2004, having first been brought under us military command within nato. Slovenia and Slovakia adopted the euro, in 2007 and 2009, respectively; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have all followed suit since the onset of the Eurozone crisis; Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic retain their own currencies.

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Joachim Becker, ‘Europe’s Other Periphery’, NLR 99: £3

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