The publication Whatever happened to democracy? Eastern and Central Europe twenty years after is the outcome of the Central European Forum, which was held at the Pavol Országh Hviezdoslva Theatre in Bratislava in November 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution. Therefore a platform for reflection was created, not only on what had happened in the intervening period, but also for a discussion of issues relating to the future of Central Europe.
At the Central European Forum, twenty-five major intellectual figures representing many countries, generations and experiences crossed intellectual swords and answered questions from the audience on issues ranging from dealing with common totalitarian heritage, the future of reforms and democracy in the midst of an economic crisis, Central Europe’s position between East and West as well as democracy fatigue, a phenomenon encountered throughout Europe.
After Slavenka Drakulić’s opening speech at the Forum, Rudolf Chmel talked about the dangers of selfishness with special reference to Central Europe. The first panel discussed the question “Where does the West begin” , the second session of the forum focussed on the economic crisis and democracy, while the third panel “Totalitarian structures – a new lease of life” concentrated on the past, the hundreds of kilometres of secret policy files and how to deal with them. The fourth and last session was called “Democracy fatigue” and dealt with the great expectations of reinventing democracy in Central Europe.
Joana Radzyner, the Austrian ORF correspondent in the Czech Republic, filmed the entire conference and produced a 57 minute documentary for the Central European Forum.