This year marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it, the Iron Curtain.
The Cold War left a mark on Europe that is still visible today. The ‘holding hostage’ of much of East and Central Europe by Soviet Communist ideology has, since its collapse, left some former communist states struggling to realise true democracy; leaving them on the periphery of a uniting Europe. For the majority of the former Eastern Bloc, European Union (EU) accession has been the reward for successful transition to liberal democracy. However, for the successor of the Soviet Union, this has not been the case. Despite Communism failing in Russia, as it did across the expanse of Eastern Europe; Russia has sought neither EU membership nor liberal democracy. With a pitiable reputation for human rights, fragile relations with neighbouring states and political backsliding into authoritarianism, it is a pertinent time to consider why Russia has chosen such a solitary path.
As Europe embraces an increasingly united agenda, events unfolding in Ukraine seem to signal that “...a slow divorce between Russia and the West is quietly underway.” The preceding observations have led to the following research question;
“Why have some former Communist states achieved greater levels of democracy than others?”
This paper sets out to explore the causes of variance in democracy in former Eastern Bloc states focusing, in this instance, on the theme of memory; ‘collective’ and ‘historical’, to determine a possible correlation between ‘memory policy’; that is, how states remember certain historical events; and democracy.