The Issue
Andrew Stroehlein



Hungarian IT
Past and Present

Surfing the Baltic


Catherine Lovatt: Romanian
Economy in Crisis

Vaclav Pinkava:
Transitional Thoughts

Sam Vaknin:
Ephemeral Balkan Promises

Jan Culik:
Czech Press Distort the Outside World

Andrew Stroehlein:
Premier Zeman and
the Czech Media

Tomas Pecina:
When Czech
Fights Czech

Mel Huang:
Parliament's Shame


EMU and
Central Europe


Baltic States
Czech Republic

Readers' Choice:
The most popular article last week

The Legacy of
Elena Ceausescu


God's Land:
Tbilisi, Georgia


Book Review:
Traveller's Literary
Companion: Eastern
and Central Europe

Book Shop


Lithuanian Jazz

Jazz on CD

Music Shop


Central European
Culture in the UK


Austrian and German Escapist Films of the 1930s


Transitions Online
Watch for their
relaunch on
21 July.


The EU:
promised land or
bad neighbour?

with your comments
and suggestions.


Vol 1, No 4, 19 July 1999

J A Z Z:
The Baltic Buzz:
Jazz in Lithuania - past and present

Under Soviet domination, Lithuania was known to be the jazziest of all Soviet Republics, a leading status which it retained even after the breakup of the Union.

Bernd Jahnke

N E W   S E R I E S:
EMU and Central Europe

In the first of a series of exclusive articles for Central Europe Review, Rob Smith of the UK consultancy Evergreen euro covers the fundamental issues of what European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is all about. As the series develops, it will provide an expanding guide to the commercial and cultural implications of EMU for Central and Eastern Europe.

Rob Smith

S L I C E   O F   L I F E:
God's Land:
Tbilisi, Georgia

Legend has it that when God was parceling land to the peoples of the world, the Georgians somehow missed the boat and were left without their share. God, however, having kept a special little place for himself, gifted it to the landless people of Georgia.

Andrew Princz


Theme of the Week:
Information Technology

T H E M E   O F   T H E   W E E K:
Hungarian IT
Past and Present

The traditions and ethos of the IT sector in Hungary today can be traced back to the Communist period. This has its negative side in, for example, the widespread toleration of software piracy, but also its positive side, such as the old regime's promotion of computer literacy in schools.

"Blade Runner"

T H E M E   O F   T H E   W E E K:
Surfing the Baltic

As in most parts of the world, the Internet is booming in the Baltic. However, the "Internet revolution" has been even more dramatic here than elsewhere in Europe, as the three small countries attempt to bridge five decades of lost time during Soviet occupation.

Mel Huang

CER's Regular Columns:

When Czech Fights Czech
Tomas Pecina
Czechs at home and Czechs abroad still cannot find common ground.
Romanian Economy in Crisis
Catherine Lovatt
Romania's chances of gaining fast-track entry into the European Union are dwindling as economic woes mount.
Hungarian IT, Past and Present
"Blade Runner"
The traditions and ethos of the IT sector in Hungary today can be traced back to the Communist period. This has both positive and negative consequences.
Confessions of a Scum
Andrew Stroehlein
As a journalist, I may very well be scum in the eyes of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, but at least no one publicly doubts my sanity as they now do Zeman's after his recent comments about the media.
A Concrete Example of Muddy Thinking in the Czech Press
Jan Culik
Information from the outside world reaches Czechs only in distant, confusing reverberations. No wonder they do not know what is going on around them in the world.
Lithuanian Parliament Fails to Clean House
Mel Huang
The Seimas plunged into scandal and disrepute last month following its failure to strip the parliamentary mandate of convicted member Audrius Butkevicius.
The Phlegm and the Anima
Sam Vaknin
Tony Blair was here in Macedonia a while ago, promising the moon. But his promises have gone the way of thousands of other promises made by the good and mighty throughout the history of this melancholy part of the globe.
Transitional Thoughts
Vaclav Pinkava
As a transparent marketing ploy, and, in festive mood, to draw your attention to the relaunch of our partner website, Transitions Online, I am relaunching my column under a new name: "Kaleidoscope."


Back Up!

K   I   N   O   E   Y   E

S C H M A L T Z:
Forget the Fascism -
Give us the Schmaltz!

Escapist films of the 1930s by Austrian and German directors

Andrew J Horton


Back Up!

Books and Literature

B O O K   R E V I E W:
Traveller's Literary Companion:
Eastern and Central Europe

Edited by James Naughton

This book serves well as a general reference book but still comfortably lives up to its claim to be a "traveller's literary companion".

Reviewed by James Partridge

S U P P L E M E N T:
The CER Book Shop:
Books about Central and Eastern Europe

Have a look at CER's list of books on the region - all available from The list is divided into five subject headings: cinema, literature, politics, history and economics.

Back Up!

M   u   s   i   c

J A Z Z:
Jazz in Lithuania -
past and present

Bernd Jahnke
Lithuania is still the jazziest place in Central and Eastern Europe.
J A Z Z:
Lithuanian Jazz

Antanas Gustys
A discography of some of Lithuania's most exciting jazz recordings.

S U P P L E M E N T:
The CER Music Shop

In co-operation with, Central Europe Review offers you this on-line shopping supplement.


O n   D i s p l a y

E V E N T S:
Coming Up in the UK

Details of selected Central and East European cultural events in the UK over the next few weeks.

Andrew J Horton

Last Week's News in Central Europe:

The Baltic States    Mel Huang

The Czech Republic    Kazi Stastna

Germany    RP Online

Poland    Donosy-English and CER staff

Romania    Catherine and David Lovatt


Back Up!

The Issue

This week, Central Europe Review examines information technology (IT) in Central and Eastern Europe with a pair of articles, one on the expansion of the Internet in the Baltic states and the other on the history and future of IT in Hungary. The amazing speed with which this technology is spreading throughout the region is mind-boggling. Central Europe Review and its parent organisation, the Central and East European New Media Initiative (CEENMI) are proud to be part of this trend.

As we have been establishing our organisation in this field and in this region over the past few weeks and months, I have heard several accusation about the alleged elitism of the Internet in the poorer half of Europe. The Web is supposedly only for the rich and well-connected in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

In fact, we have been told by some officials in the UK that the elitism of the Web could even damage our charity status. "Not everyone has access to the Internet," they say, "so a Web-dependent organisation is inherently exclusive."

I disagree.

When CEENMI holds its first annual general meeting (AGM), that meeting will be virtual, conducted over the course of several days through the medium of an e-mail discussion group. Such a system is more democratic and less elitist than a normal AGM for an international organisation such as ours.

Our group has members in 15 or 16 different countries around the world, and many of our members live and work in Central and Eastern Europe itself. Were we to hold our AGM in London, the costs of travel and accommodation would have to be met somehow; that would add up to hundreds of pounds and be well beyond the means of our members in Central and Eastern Europe.

An hour at an Internet cafe in Warsaw, Tallinn or Bucharest is clearly not free for local inhabitants, but it is infinitely cheaper than a plane ticket, a hotel room and meals in a foreign city.

It is true that not everyone is online in Europe - in both East and West, and as long as European phone companies are allowed to charge for local calls, this side of the Atlantic will always be behind the US in the spread of information technology. However, the Internet is everywhere more easily accessible than international air flights and decent hotels. Virtual travel will always be more democratic than physical travel.

With this in mind, I invite you to travel this week to Tbilisi, and let your guide, Andrew Princz, reveal the Georgian capital's wonder and excitement. No boarding pass required.

Andrew Stroehlein, Editor-in-Chief, 19 July 1999

Back Up!


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