It was in the mid-1980s that I began supporting open society initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe. We supported people and ideas that presented an alternative to the all-encompassing totalitarian state. We helped scholars and dissidents from the region travel to the West to exchange ideas. We supported independent media, student movements, and even cultural clubs—anything that presented an alternative.
In 1989, there was the promise of a transition from closed to more open societies and greater unity in Europe. But setting a new system up can be as hard as bringing an old one down.
Today, I am concerned about Europe’s future and the potential disintegration of the political union. We in Europe must seek to recapture the original spirit of the European Union. Ukraine is a powerful wake-up call. We are witnessing the birth of a new nation, a new Ukraine—with a limitless future made possible by people whose civic and political engagement is probably higher than anywhere else in Europe.
A quarter-century after the Berlin Wall came down, the pursuit of open society in Europe continues.