"The Impact of Political Changes on Aural Areas of Cost-Central Curope"
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Urbanization is one of the global processes in a sense that it takes place all over the world, and also in a sense that it influences the whole society, modifying its structure. The globality of its presence is not against the fact but requires it that in all concrete regions of the world, and in all concrete groups of society it can be characterized with specific features. Because of the significance of the process, its global characteristics, its way of appearance, which are characteristic of the place and the social group, the process of urbanization is studied from several sides of science and in a way endeavouring for complex approach. The target region of the urbanization process stands in the center of researches, similarly to the other aspect when the researchers investigate the social side, i.e. in what classes the benefits of the rearrangement can be experienced and what structural changes it causes there. Taken altogether, during the urbanizational researches those territories are left untouched which were left out from the urbanization or connected to it only as scenes of emigration, and those social groups are also left in darkness which are not - or negatively - influenced by the urbanizational processes. However, it is doubtless that the complete revelation of urbanization process needs a thorough investigation of both aspects. Geographers have experienced the above contradiction for decades, therefore the International Geographic Union created the working committee on problems of rural areas several years ago. It was partly the results of this committee and partly the comprehensive knowledge of the problems occurring in the region, that lead prof. Andrzej Stasziak to initiate an international research on the rural territories of East-Central Europe, especially to reveal the kinds of migrations in the region. He established the flexible, but to a certain extent necessary institutional background as well, by creating a smaller research team within the Geographic and Region-Organizational Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and took upon the task of organization. Annually he ensures possibility or initiate a meeting for the researchers of East-Central Europe involved in this theme. The first two meetings took place in Poland, they both turned out to be successful, and the lectures were published. The initiation and the series of programmes achieved reasonable international reaction. The researchers dealing with the rural areas of East-Central Europe met first out of Poland in 1992. The international conference was held in Pécs and Kecskemét, Hungary between June 1 -6 , 1992. The conference was organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Center for Regional Studies (Pécs) and Scientific Institute of the Great Hungarian Plain, resident in Kecskemét. The Regional- and Settlement Developmental Committee of the Pécs Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences joined the organizational works as well as other local governments. Taking it into consideration that the political changes taken place in East-Central Europe modified the relationship and inner structure of the region in a significant extent, furthermore that the first consequences and the results were measurable the main theme of the conference was evident; ’The Impact of Eastern European Changes on Rural Areas’. More than twenty lectures were held by researchers coming from the region undergoing a significant transformation from political geographical point of view; i.e. the European bordering states have left the former Soviet Union, the possible mobility of the former socialist countries, has increased, the disintegration of Yugoslavia has begun and there were obvious signs of disuniting of Czechoslovakia which is reality at present. Austria joined the activity of the sessions for the first time, represented by professor Walter Zsilincsar, who held an interesting lecture and took a considerably active part in the debates following the other lectures, confronting the other experts’ prognoses and notions with the Austrian reality. The Hungarian delegation, using the advantages of the ,,home field” , consisted of more members than usual. Among the delegates we can find, among others, experts from Pécs, Kecskemét, Debrecen, Szeged, Szombathely and Budapest. It is noticeable that besides geographers, who naturally formed the majority, sociologists, economists and historians were present in the home delegation. The versatility, created from both home and foreign aspect, made the debates exceedingly interesting. The conference was accompanied by field trips. The first of them touched those Baranya county areas (Hosszúhetény and its environments), where the creation of the criteria of agri-tourism can be an important element of the survival strategy in the rural areas. The participants of the conference could directly get acquainted with house owners, who rearranged their houses according to the criteria of agritourism, thus made them capable of receiving guests. Talking to the owners could mean the opportunity of collecting first-hand experiences for the experts. The second field trip started from Kecskemét, and aimed at getting familiar with the economic and settlement system of the scattered farms formed on the sandy areas between the Danube and the Tisa, especially known for their vine and fruit cultures, and at the practical enumerating of the ways of development of the scattered farms. Besides this the participants visited the Kiskunság National Park, having a farewell-dinner and signing the declaration stated earlier. This declaration, that was signed by each participants of the conference and that we published, and that each delegation delivered through their channels to the representatives of the decision sphere of the given country, draws the attention to the fact that the privatization taking place in the region, besides being just by all means and historically necessary, disturbs the formed and functioning system of connections of the rural areas, thus may be the source of many a problem. It requires more support to the rural areas, draws the attention to the necessity of the right choice in the new ways of development and to the fact that though the ecological state of the rural areas is better than the similar indexes of several industrial zones, the danger is increasing in these areas, too. It is just the Hungarian experiences that underline the necessity of taking care of the ecological balance, the relatively favourable position of the rural areas for strategic reasons (e.g. the possibility of agri-tourism). Only a minor part of the lectures dealt with the processes concerning the whole of the region, while most of them were dealing with the whole of the countries, or at the level of case studies, with certain regions. The most important conclusion of the considerably active debates might be that in the given countries the changes amount to the same consequences within the same circumstances, and this similarity does underline the necessity of the debate of the experts dealing with the rural areas of the region. There is a great opportunity to take over experiences despite the fact that besides the fundamental similarity, specific features of a country or region motivate the processes, too. The support of the Research Centre for Regional Studies of HAS and a few research projects (the Great Plain programme, different OTKA1 subjects) made it possible for us to edit the subjects of the conference and to enable the international professional public opinion to judge it. Now that we offer the completed volume to the reader, at the same time we thank for the participation of the foreign colleagues, the cooperation of the home experts and the help of all those who had any sacrifice in organizing the conference, the implementation of the field trips or in the creation of the book. Pécs—Kecskemét, 01.12 .1992.