Public Conference: The Importance of National Memory and Civic Education for a Successful Transition to Democracy

30/11/2019

The European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP) together with its member-foundation CEVRO from the Czech Republic hosted a conference on “National memory” that took place on 29 November 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic.

The conference aimed at bring together politicians, experts, historians and civil society in an attempt to discuss the importance of national memory in building strong and resilient democracies that help unite Europe its citizens.

The first panel participants, Tinatin Khidasheli, Georgian jurist, politician and former civil society activist, Joachim Forster, lawyer and former Head of the Department of the Use of Stasi-Documents at the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic and Alexander Vondra, Czech politician and diplomat who served as Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, shared their experience with the democratic transition and their perception of the transformation as students of history. They compared different experiences and discussed the key factors for each transition in Czechoslovakia, Georgia and former German Democratic Republic. Furthermore, they expressed certain defects in recent developments of the democratic systems that were built after the transition and they explored the outcomes of these developments. Lastly they stressed the importance of national memory and the preservation of it for future generations, because only through national memory, country can move on and improve its democracy.

Pavel Žáček, Czech historian, publicist and Member of Parliament of the Czech Republic, Franciszek Dabrowski, specialist in the Digital Resources’ Branch of the Archive of the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw and Joachim Forster, lawyer and former Head of the Department of the Use of Stasi-Documents at the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic, took part in the second panel discussion, which observed the question of lessons learnt from the democratic transitions and how they transpose in today´s democracy in the respective countries of the speakers. The key topic that was addressed, was the continuation of the democratization even 30 years after the transition. The situation some countries is not yet completely settled, especially when it comes to the wealth distribution between cities and villages. Czech Republic recently started to prosecute one of the high ranked officials of the communist regime and Poland still has not completely democratized the judicial branch.

The conference aimed to help people understand the importance of national memory in the process of democratic transition and how this process of transition is different in each European country.