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Hungary: Access Deferred (3/98)

It’s no secret that Eastern Europe is still struggling under the burden of its transition from communism. Internet usage reflects both the pace of change and the attitudes toward it. And particularly in Bulgaria, the prospects don’t look promising.

Many Bulgarians tend to approach their problems by insisting at the outset that the situation is hopeless. This overriding apathy permeates society, which partly explains why the Internet has so far made very little impact here. People live basically from day to day. Most of their plans are short-term at best. They’re wary of trying anything new unless financial rewards are high and immediate. In the West, Internet activity is viewed by many as vaguely anti- establishment. This is fine when a society’s development is sufficient to tolerate — and even accommodate — anti-establishment attitudes and activities. However, in the developing democracies, still within a period of transition (i.e., from past to present; dictatorship to "democracy"), these attitudes are noticeably absent. But Bulgaria not only lags behind Western countries, but other developing democracies: With the exception of Albania, it’s one of the most undeveloped. As a result, rather than developing an anti- establishment "telematic culture" (one that uses telecommunications and information technology), people devote most of their energy to being part of the establishment in hopes of attaining a certain amount of economic security and social mobility. read more

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NATO’s False Security (3/98)

When Hungary voted overwhelmingly to join NATO in November, Socialist prime minister Gyula Horn’s government was quick to call the result a testament to Hungary’s commitment to democracy and desire to be part of Europe. Yet, while many celebrate the victory, a window of opportunity has closed, finishing the “period of transition” that began with the quiet revolution of 1989. At the very least, it’s the end of the beginning, though the beginning itself was rather stillborn. read more