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Hello and thanks for tuning in to this final edition of Central Europe Today. Some 13 years ago, at the end of 1989, the Communist regimes of central and eastern Europe collapsed, bringing an end to four long decades of oppressive, totalitarian rule and yet, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia that have been independent democracies for over a decade are still referred to as post-Communist countries and their Communist background still remains very much alive today. More
Politicians in the Czech Republic as well as in the rest of post-Communist Central Europe have welcomed the results of the general elections that took place in Slovakia on September 20 and 21st, despite the fact that the nationalist former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) at the start of the campaign originally looked like it would have a chance of retaking power. Meciar gained 19.5 percent of the vote but although he received most votes in the Slovak parliamentary elections his chances of forming a majority coalition government are low as he remains isolated. The governing pro-European parties, on the other hand, view the elections as a victory since their coalition would have a majority in parliament. Here are the final election results: the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) received 15.09 percent and the Smer party received 13.46 percent. The Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) received 11.16 percent, the Christian Democrats (KDH) 8.25 percent, the Alliance of New Citizens (ANO) 8.01 percent and the Communists (KSS) 6.32 percent. After the election results were final, the Slovak President Rudolf Schuster said that he would appoint the person who will give him the majority in parliament as Prime Minister. Whilst it seems most probable that the current Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda has a better chance of forming such a government, his four-party coalition would have 78 seats in the 150 seat parliament, Vladimir Meciar has been given until Friday to attempt to form a coalition himself - a chance that political analysts believe to be just a formal gesture, finding it virtually impossible for Mr Meciar to get the support he needs. In today's CET, Dita Asiedu speaks with Olga Gyarfasova, sociologist and programme director at the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava, about the election results and what they mean for Slovakia's relations with its partners in the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary). Of the more than 4.1 million eligible voters, 70.07 percent took part in the general elections. So, Dita Asiedu started off by asking Mrs Gyarfasova whether the Slovak people were surprised by the election results: More
If you don't know anything about the Visegrad Group and which countries it represents, you can be forgiven. When I asked people in the streets around the radio building here in Prague whether they had heard of Visegrad, almost all gave the same answer: a very firm "No". I asked around fifteen people, and only one, a smartly dressed young man from Slovakia, gave me the precise answer.
In past Central Europe Todays, we have often noticed quite a few similarities between the post-Communist central European countries. In this week's edition, Dita Asiedu looks at one area where the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary developed differently after the fall of Communism: religion - relations with the Catholic Church:
On September 1st of this year, a new law will come into effect in the Czech Republic, drawing out the terms under which organ transplants can be conducted and organ donations will be accepted. More
In this week's Central Europe Today, Dita Asiedu looks at the state of the film industry in the region and speaks to Jolanta Galicka from Film Polski and Hungarian producer Laszlo Kantor to find out how popular movies from the post-Communist Central Europe have been in the last few years and whether it has become easier to produce them since the fall of communism:
In modern European history, Samizdat - the writing, printing and
distribution of literature that was suppressed and banned by the censors
during Communism - represented a mass struggle for freedom
that was often punished with years of imprisonment and even death. A major
exhibition documenting this struggle is currently being held at the
National Museum in Prague. In this week's Central Europe Today, Dita
Asiedu looks at the underground press movement and examines how much the
younger generation knows about it today.
In the past few years, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava have seen numerous restaurants spring up all over the cities, offering a wide selection of food ranging from light salads and sandwiches to hearty meals and deserts. However, whilst visitors from abroad find the meals reasonably priced, many locals cannot afford to eat out and therefore eat at home and only visit restaurants on special occasions. Find out what their home-cooked meals are like in this week's Central Europe Today where Dita Asiedu visits a chef in Prague and makes a three-course meal of Polish soup, a Hungarian main dish, and a Czech and Slovak desert, all cooked according to grandma's recipe.
In this week's Central Europe Today, Dita Asiedu looks at the health of literature in the post-Communist countries of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.
Amid the debate about the millions of ethnic Germans who were expelled from the countries of Central Europe after World War Two, it's easy to forget that there are also many hundreds of thousands of Germans who for various reasons remained in the region. It would be impossible to talk of a concrete figure - sociologists agree that national identity is something that shifts with time and circumstances. In the Czech census of 2001 some forty thousand Czech citizens described their nationality as German, a little under half a percent of the population, but the number of Czechs who have at least partly German roots probably runs into hundreds of thousands. In this programme I shall be comparing the German minority today in three Central European countries, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.