The Czech Republic is the western part of what was formerly Czecho-Slovakia. The country borders: Germany in the North-West, Poland in the North, Slovakia in the East and Austria in the South. After World War II Czecho-Slovakia became part of the Eastern Bloc and was under Communist dictatorship from 1948 onwards. In 1968 Alexander Dubcek started a brief liberalisation called the Prague Spring but the uprising was crushed by the Warsaw Pact. The Velvet Revolution of 1989 meant the end of the Communist regime. On January 1st of 1993 the Czech Republic was separated from Slovakia; it obtained NAVO membership in 1999; and on May 1st, 2004 it joined the European Union.