Next year Europe's post-communist countries commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. They should be in a celebratory mood. With the exception of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, most can look back on a radical transformation achieved without violence, an era when their forced 40-year separation from Western Europe was ended and living standards began a long upward climb. Another dramatic change has been in the financial sector. Most former state-owned banks are now in not only private hands but foreign ones: Some 80% of financial institutions are now owned by foreign banks, with banks in Hungary, Slovakia and the Baltic States almost entirely foreign owned. The result has been an extraordinary amount of highly beneficial integration with the West's -- and thus the world's -- financial system. Analysts believe one of the biggest favors the post-communist countries could do for themselves is boost regional integration.
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