The legitimate force that drives trade agreements is companies' need for predictability and stability in order to invest beyond the borders of their home country. Everyone can support that. But where trade agreements go wrong is in secret negotiations, with virtually zero democratic input or accountability
Less attention has been paid to the émigrés who worked on behalf of peace and reconciliation in former Yugoslavia. These activists supported peace organizations in the region, helped to spread the word of human rights violations, and worked in large numbers for international organizations, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague.
Ryszard Zoltaniecki is a sociologist who has also worked in the Polish foreign ministry, where he served as the ambassador to Greece. It was not long into our August 2013 interview in an outdoor café in Warsaw that we began to address larger questions like the European financial crisis. The economic setback, he pointed out, marked the end of an era.
In Poland, even when we lost 30 soldiers in Iraq, this war was not so controversial in public opinion. In Afghanistan, since the time when we increased our troops in 2007, public opinion has been largely negative. It became even more skeptical with the Obama policy and the surge. And now we have 41 soldiers who died in Afghanistan.
Whether it's the NSA, European intelligence agencies, private corporations, or the police, Katarzyna Szymielewicz is deeply concerned about the erosion of privacy and civil rights. We talked about how she became involved in this work, how Polish politicians have reacted to surveillance issues, and why Snowden deserves the EU's Sakharov Prize.
In 2011 the Palikot movement, which championed libertarian positions in favor of legalizing marijuana, supporting LGBT rights, and reducing the influence of the church in the secular sphere, surprised everyone by catapulting into parliament with 10 percent of the vote. Long-time feminist activist Wanda Nowicka ran on the Palikot ticket in 2011 and won a seat.
When I first met Zoltan Illes in 1990, he was 29 years old and in his first month as the youngest state secretary in modern Hungarian history, working in the ministry of environment. He granted me quite a long interview and was unusually frank not only about the environmental situation in the country but also about the challenges he faced in his own position.
Whether this ceasefire or some future one proves durable, Ukraine must eventually make some very difficult decisions concerning its future. Above all, it must figure out a way of exiting the steel trap that has clamped down on its nether regions. The Crimean peninsula has already been sliced off. Should Ukraine sever another one of its own limbs in order to survive?
Poles are happier than they've been in years. More than 80 percent report that they are "very happy" or "quite happy," and that number has risen steadily since 2000. But happiness in Poland seems to derive largely from private life. There's not a lot of volunteering, and even the rates of Church attendance have been going down.
In an interview in Warsaw in August 2013, Dariusz Kalan, a Central Europe expert with the Polish Institute for International Affairs (PISM), talked about Poland's attempt to represent the region in European bodies, why young people are leaning toward conservative movements, and how Central Europe views Russia.