Nr 71/72 • August 2009

The Annus Mirabilis of 1989

Certain historic events took place 20 years ago. A lot more happened in one year than in many years before. Communism collapsed within months. It was a real surprise for everyone, although many now claim they knew it well in advance.

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Iran’s Stolen Election

Opposition to a second term of office for President Ahmadinejad and to the way the election was conducted has brought together all walks of Iranian society. Despite the power residing in Iran’s Supreme Leader, the strength of this concerted opposition has caused a seismic shock at the heart of the regime.

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A Road Less Travelled: Supporting the Independence of the Baltic States

Mr. Jí³n Baldvin Hannibalsson was Foreign Minister of Iceland from 1988 to 1995. Unlike many of his colleagues from small states, Mr. Hannibalsson willingly stationed himself in the front line during the end of the Cold War when he consistently campaigned for the cause of the independence of the Baltic states. This was not a risk-free foreign policy for Iceland as the country had important economic ties with the Soviet Union. It also went against the initial objectives of the major Western powers when it became evident that the Iron Curtain was about to tumble down. But when Iceland had become the first country to recognize the independence of the Baltic states and to establish official diplomatic ties with them, it was soon clear that history was on Mr. Hannibalsson’s side. And this achievement is considered to be one of Iceland’s finest moments in the international arena.

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Israel and Iran’s Elections

Till now, Israel has been relatively passive in commenting on Iran’s elections on June 12, but it is clear that Netanyahu’s government is following the events very closely. It was recently written in the German magazine Spiegel that the presidential elections in Iran have convinced Israel’s government that the solution to Iran’s nuclear issue is not through talks, but through the use of the military. This news report was published on the same day when US Vice-President Joseph Biden told the ABC network that “Israel can determine for itself – it’s a sovereign nation – what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,” even though Barack Obama stressed two days later that Biden’s words did not mean that the US has agreed with an Israeli strike on Iran.

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Slovakia’s Bumpy Road to Democracy and the European Family

Although our historical contexts and geographic positions are quite different, Slovakia and Estonia have several things in common: both countries are new and were created following the division of larger Communist federations – Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, respectively. Both saw their future clearly in European and transatlantic institutions and joined the EU and NATO at the same time, in spring 2004. It seems that Slovakia’s road towards becoming a modern democratic state and joining a civilized Europe was a bit more complicated than Estonia’s.

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English summary

The August issue of Diplomaatia looks back at the year 1989, when Central European countries shook off the Communist yoke, riding the wave of velvet revolutions.

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