Since its establishment in 2012, the Aspen Institute in Prague has served as a regional platform for Central European countries as was referred in the title of this quarterly.
Today our region needs more than ever a regional platform for non-ideological and non-partisan discussion that will cultivate inclusive debate on specific issues, facilitate exchange of ideas, foster open society, and promote values-based leadership. Hence, it is my pleasure to announce we have entered our fifth year of activities under new name—the Aspen Institute Central Europe.
Last year in this Review we reflected two important and interrelated topics: a crisis of institutions and the changing position of Central Europe on the European political landscape. Unfortunately, the concern about the growth of public mistrust that could lead to re-emergence of old stereotypes has proven justified by recent developments beyond Europe. In this issue, you may find a couple of thematic articles focusing on trust and media.
We live in a fragmented era. Technology allows for instant communication in real time. Writing an online comment or clicking a button does not require too much of time and resources. Entering a public discourse is almost cost-free. Does it bring more democracy and accountability? Political and judicial institutions as well as independent media and regulatory bodies are more and more under attack. The cornerstones of our political system seem to have been badly affected by the crisis of public confidence and the plummeting of trust in representatives and intermediaries. Populist leaders pretend to address directly our grievances and wishes. The bashing of political correctness has become fashionable. A plain talk has moved a public discourse away from modesty and civility towards “calling things by its proper name.” It has become dangerously close to incitement of hatred and violence sometimes crossing the line already. Should there be limits of freedom of expression in our technologically interconnected society? Does technological connectivity enhance real communication? It is easy to lose trust in distant institutions with which one has no direct contact and experience; there are fewer and fewer face to face contacts even in local politics. Maintaining trust is fundamental to good society.
Aspen Institute remains committed to building trust on national and international level by providing a non-ideological platform for a free exchange of ideas, a critical discussion searching for solutions among those who believe in civic responsibility, international engagement, and values-oriented leadership. Stay connected!
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