Letter: The diversity of 'Eastern Europe'

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The Independent Online
Sir: We have a high esteem for the standards of the British media, and appreciate its best efforts to convey an objective and balanced view of the former Communist countries. However, there is an extensive and unfortunately indiscriminate use of the term 'Eastern Europe'.

This was epitomised in a recent short documentary on ITV's News At Ten. It provided an excellent coverage of the dismal state of nuclear reactors in the Ukraine and Azerbaijan. However, both countries were repeatedly referred to as 'Eastern Europe', and the programme gave the impression that what we had seen reflected the general state of affairs in the countries of Eastern


Without attempting to define whether 'Eastern Europe' is a geographical, historical, or cultural term, or a mere synonym of 'former Communist countries all over Eurasia', we would like to emphasise that in whatever sense the term is used there is a vast and exciting diversity among these countries with respect to economic development, social welfare and cultural identity. Generalisations of observations made in any of these countries to the whole region does not do justice to, and may even damage, some of these countries' interests.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall, in a political sense, provides an opportunity for politicians and the media to break away from the old and rather simplistic routine of picturing all former Communist countries as one unanimous block. It would be regrettable not to amend this picture and inform the British public that what is happening in the Ukraine may not apply to, say, Hungary, and that what is typical of Hungary may be an exception in the Czech Republic.

Yours sincerely,




26 February