For more than three years after the implosion of the Communist regime in 1989, the Czechs and Slovaks negotiated the terms of a new relationship to succeed the centralized federation created under communism. After failing to agree to the terms of a new union, the parties agreed on an orderly breakup.
In the background of the narrative loom general issues such as: What are the sources of ethnic conflict and what is the impact of nationalism? Why do ethnic groups choose secession and what makes for peaceful rather than violent separation? What factors influence the course of constitutional negotiations that are inevitably conducted in the context of institutional and societal transformation? The author suggests some conclusions on these issues and explores the reasons for the breakup.
Eric Stein, a well-known scholar of comparative law and a native of Czechoslovakia, was invited by the Czechoslovak government to assist in the drafting of a new constitution. This book is based on his experiences during years of work on these negotiations as well as on extensive interviews with political figures, journalists, and academics and extensive research in the primary documents. It is a fascinating story told from a unique perspective in an engaging and readable style.