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Unemployment is a major social risk all over the globe. Even in East Asia where this phenomenon did not practically exist in the beginning of the nineties, the financial crisis brought it to the fore of public concerns. In other parts of the world unemployment is high and persistent. Indeed, due to global trends of technological and economic restructuring the issue of unemployment and especially of long-term unemployment is getting more and more relevant in economic, political and social terms.

This is the more so in Central and Eastern Europe. The nations from the region faced a dramatic rise of unemployment in the early stages of their transformation to market economy and democratic politics. In some cases the ensuing problems have been dealt with in a relatively successful manner. This is so far the case in Poland, for instance. However, in the majority of Central and Eastern European societies the open questions still prevail. Shall the recovery of their economies re-establish full employment? Or, is the prospect of a high level long-term unemployment more realistic? What should be done now in order to increase the probability of the first scenario and to decrease the probability of the latter one?

There are no ready answers to these questions. The regional development in the field of employment in Central and Eastern Europe very much depends on processes in the global economy and in the European Union. Factors from the national specifics also play their role. Therefore, the precise analysis and prognostication of unemployment in Central and Eastern Europe should be the subject of careful long-term studies having strong interdisciplinary, cross-national and policy oriented aspects.

These are exactly the major characteristics of the research project Personal and Institutional Strategies for Coping with Transformation Risks in Central and Eastern Europe co-ordinated by Professor Nikolai Genov in the framework of the

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UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations Programme. The present volume contains elaborated papers which were initially presented at the Third International Conference on Transformation Risks held at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia in February, 1999 in the course of the implementation of the project.

The Conference was organised by the Bulgarian National UNESCO-MOST Committee and Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. Results and prospects of the above mentioned comparative research project were in the centre of the discussions. They were very much stimulated by interventions of the participants in the International Research Group on Comparative Charting of Social Change, the President of the International Sociological Association Alberto Martinelli being among them. In this way, the study on processes in Central and Eastern Europe was related to social trends having a much broader geographical and historical significance.

The Secretariat of the UNESCO-MOST Programme and the Regional Bureau of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation express their gratitude to the scientists and decision-makers who supported the research project on transformation risks and participated in its implementation. Special thanks have to go to the Bulgarian National Commission for UNESCO and to the Project Leader. Mrs. Elissaveta Ignatova was very efficient in preparing the manuscript for publication.

Paul de Guchteneire

Michael Weichert
Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation, Bonn-Sofia

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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-library | Februar 2000

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