|Anna M. Cienciala (email@example.com)||
History 557 Lecture Notes
Spring 2002 ;revised Feb. 2004; Jan. 20111
hist557 by anna m.cienciala is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at web.ku.edu.
LECTURE NOTES 20. Post-Communist Eastern Europe. ( Revision in process, October 2008).
20A. Central and East Central Europe.
The collapse of Communism in Central [Germany], East Central and South Eastern Europe [Balkans] in the second half of 1989 can be compared to the collapse of the three Empires: the Russian Empire in spring 1917, then the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires in November 1918. In both 1918 and 1989, the Baltic Peoples, the Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats and Slovenes and some Romanians, were freed from foreign rule, while Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria overthrew their communist leaders. However, after 1989, they had to change not only their political system from one party rule to political pluralism, that is, democracy, but also change their economic system from a command economy to a free market economy, that is, capitalism. The transition to the new politics and economics has proved to be a very difficult process, especially since the economies of most of East European countries were in poor shape. Furthermore, the USSR, with which they did most of their trade, collapsed at the end of December 1991. Also, they had little or no investment capital of their own, and did not receive an equivalent of the Marshall Plan (began 1947), which put Western Europe back on its feet after World War II.
I. Overview of Political, Economic Change and Problems.
Former dissidents provided political leadership before and during the revolutions, but found it difficult to organize viable and coherent political parties within a multi-party system. Most of the idealistic dissidents of the 1980s were replaced by professional politicians, many of whom were formerly members of each country's communist party. Most of them, however, were not ideological communists and they were the only people with political experience .
The change to democracy was much easier than the change to a free market economy because these countries had been bankrupted by an economic system that ignored cost-effectiveness. Most of them also had large foreign debts to the West, plus they lost the Russian markets where they had exported 50-60% of their goods. This market loss was due to the collapse of the Soviet economy which accompanied the dissolution of the USSR in late December 1991.
The German Democratic Republic shared all key characteristics with Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, but it was a special case because it was part of the German nation. A democratized East German state existed for one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It joined West Germany in a unified German state in October 1990.
The transition from communism to a free market economy and from a forced dependence on the USSR to independence, is considered by some specialists as largely complete by 1991, but by others as an ongoing process. The author of this text favors the latter view, considering the fact that privatization is still incomplete in 2008, even though the countries in this region have made great economic progress since 1989. Progress, however, was accompanied by many difficulties which were most obvious in the economic sector, especially in Poland, where the first post-Communist government chose a more radical "shock therapy" in economic reform than was the case elsewhere.
Czechoslovakia, or rather the Czech Republic (the country split into the Czech and Slovak republics in Jan. 1993), pursued a more gradual transformation as did Hungary, which was ahead of both countries in having a well-organized banking system. In all three countries, as well as Slovakia, the pain and suffering due to unemployment and inadequate welfare safety nets helped ex-communist -- now mostly Socialist parties-- to increase their membership and voter support, although this petered out after a a couple of years. The only communist party to keep its old name and ideology survives today in the Czech Republic and usually wins 10-12% of the vote.
On the whole, unlike the Russian Federation, the democratic process seems irreversible in East Central and S.E. Europe. All of the above comments also apply to the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which regained full independence with the collapse of the USSR in December 1991.
Although the Ukrainians overthrew communism in the "Orange Revolution" of fall 2004, Ukraine still has great economic difficulties and needs to develop a national identity shared by all its parts: the western, central and the highly russified eastern industrial region. Ukrainian national consciousness is most highly developed in western Ukraine (former S.E. interwar Poland and before that, East Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, earlier in pre-partition Poland. W.Ukraine includes Volhynia, formerly in old Poland, then in the Russian Empire, then in interwar Poland.)
Belarus (part of old Poland, then Russian, then partly in interwar Poland) has been ruled since 1994 by the ex-communist former state farm director, President Aleksandr Lukashenka, who does not tolerate any opposition. It is worth noting that the territories of today's Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, most of Estonia, Belarus and Ukraine, were part of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, (see map below). The Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, known as the Kaliningrad region, was created at the end of WW II. The Russian port city of Kaliningrad was formerly the old Prussian city of Koenigsberg (in East Prussia), which suffered almost total destruction in the fighting between Russian and German troops at the end of WWII.
[Map from Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations. Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, 1569-1999, New Haven and London, 2003; note the present borders.]
The Czech, Hungarian and Polish republics became members of the NATO alliance in March 1999, giving them a much needed sense of security vis-a-vis the potential revival of Russian imperialism.The ceremony took place in the Truman Library, Independence, MO, in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, with U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, presiding. The celebration of NATO's 50th anniversary took place in Washington D.C. in April that year. The government of the Russian Federation strongly opposed the entry of these states into NATO, but had to accept it. The other East European states which later joined NATO were Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania (Russia was especially opposed to their entry into NATO), as well as Slovakia, Bulgaria,Romania, and Slovenia. All these states entered the European Union [EU] and NATO in the years 2004-07
Ethnic-national tensions and conflicts.
TV allowed people all over the world to see the terrible ethnic-national wars in former Yugoslavia - between Serbs and Croats, also Serbs and Croats versus Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbs versus Albanian Kosovars in Kosovo. [See 20B].
The situation in East Central Europe has been stable, but there are some lesser ethnic-national tensions such as those between the ruling Slovaks and the Hungarian minority in southern Slovakia, also between the ruling Romanians and the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. There has been some tension between Hungary on the one hand and Romania and Slovakia over the Hungarian Status Law. This gave people of Hungarian origin of descent some benefits if they come to Hungary for education or work. Both Romania and Slovakia saw this law as the thin end of the wedge for Hungarian revisionism, although the Hungarian government denied this goal. The issue was finally settled to mutual satisfaction in 2003 when the Hungarian government granted the same benefits to Romanian and Slovak workers in Hungary as to ethnic Hungarians from these countries.
Another contentious issue, this time between the Czech and Slovak Republics on the one hand, and the Germans and Hungarians expelled from former Czechoslovakia at war's end - and now their descendants - on the other, are the Benes Decrees. These decrees, issued by President Edvard Benes in 1945-46, deprived German and Hungarian citizens of prewar Czechoslovakia of their citizenship, property and right of residence because of their hostile activities against the Czechoslovak state in the period 1938-45. Exceptions were made for people who could prove that they had been loyal to Czechoslovakia -- which was generally very difficult. The most numerous expellees were 2,900,000 Sudeten Germans. German, Austrian and Hungarian politicians, as well as the press of these countries, question the legality of the Benes decrees and demand compensation, while Czech and Slovak public opinion opposes it.
The 8,250,000 Germans who fled or were expelled from postwar western Poland - formerly East Prussia and the eastern part of prewar Germany - made up a vociferous, organized group, but lost much of their influence after the German-Polish Treaty of November 14 1990, which gave official recognition to the postwar German-Polish frontier. However, there was some fear among Poles that Germans would buy out Polish land in formerly German areas once Poland joined the European Union. (Some Germans have been buying land through third parties, because it is illegal for foreigners to buy land without special permission.) There is, however, a Polish-German agreement that no land may be purchased by foreigners in Poland for a period of seven years after Poland's entry into the EU (2004 + 7)).
Politicians sometimes make anti-Semitic statements and there are some anti-Semitic political parties and groups in various countries, but they are fringe phenomena. Residual anti-Semitism is just as much if not more present in fringe, extremist movements in Germany and Austria as there is, for eg. in Hungary and Poland. There is also some racism in France, although it is directed mostly at Moslem immigrants from North Africa .
There is widespread hostility to the Roma (Gypsies), who have been particularly targeted in the Czech and Slovak Republics (separated in Jan. 1993), although they are also subject to attacks elsewhere. They are still cultural and social outsiders with whom most people in E. Europe do not feel any affinity. They have been emigrating West, mostly to Britain and Canada, which have restricted their immigration, and lately to Italy, where they are no longer welcome..
Reflections on national states and nationalism in Eastern Europe.
Some western historians and political scientists agree with the British Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, who traces the ethnic-national problems of todayís Eastern Europe back to President Woodrow Wilsonís emphasis on self-determination at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Hobsbawm expressed this view in his book on world history 1914-91, where he condemned Woodrow Wilsonís insistence on self-determination. He wrote: "The national conflicts tearing the continent apart in the 1990s were the old chickens of Versailles once again coming home to roost."*
*[ Eric Hobsbawn, The Age of Extremes. A History of the World, 1914-1991, (New York, 1994), p. 31. See also an approving, though second hand citation of Hobsbawmís view, that "it was the Wilsonian plan to divide Europe into ethnic-linguistic territorial states, a project as dangerous as it was impracticable, except at the cost of forcible mass expulsion, coercion, and genocide.," Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans, edited by Thanasis D. Spikas and Christopher Williams, Aldershot, 1999, pp. 80]
However, blaming the so-called Wilsonian principle of self-determination for interwar and recent ethnic-national conflicts in E. Europe is a mistake for the following reasons:
(1) Although Woodrow Wilson did support self-determination as the key principle in drawing up frontiers in E.Europe in 1919, these frontiers were not the result of his influence. In fact, they were drawn almost entirely on site by the former subject peoples of the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, that is, those who were on the winning side, and this was done even before the Peace Conference opened in Paris on January 12, 1919. The frontiers drawn up in Paris were the Polish-German frontier, the frontiers of the new Austrian state, also the German-Danish, German-French and German-Belgian frontiers.
(2) The post 1919 national states of E.Europe were not the result of a Wilsonian plan or principle. They were, in fact, the implementation in Eastern Europe of the ethnic nationalism that had developed in Western Europe during the 19th century, although they received recognition and support from Woodrow Wilson in 1919.
(3) Except for the mass exchange of Greek and Turkish populations in 1923-25 -- which was the result of the Greek defeat by the Turks in war -- there was no mass expulsion of populations, or genocide, following World War I. Here we should note that:
(a) Genocide took place in Eastern Europe not after World War I, but during and after World War II. This was above all the Jewish Holocaust, but there were also great population losses among other peoples. Therefore, some historians speak of the Polish holocaust, the Russian holocaust, and the Serb-Croat holocaust during WW II.
(b) There was some population displacement after World War I (agreed expulsions of Greeks from Turkey, and Turks from Greece (see 3 above), also of Turks from Bulgaria. The mass expulsions of German populations in 1945-48 were possible because of German defeat in war, but were motivated by German policies in East Central. Europe before WW II (the Nazi use of German minorities in other countries) and during World War II, especially the expulsion of Poles from former W. Poland, annexed by Germany, to the "General Gouvernement," * as well as the use of about many Poles as forced labor in Germany, also of Czechs from the Sudetenland. [After WW II, aside from Poland, Germans were also expelled from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and N. Yugoslavia - for map of expulsions, see Lec.Notes 17, Introduction].
*[On German deportations of Poles from former W. Poland, annexed to Germany, to the General Gouvernement (occupied Poland) in 1939-1941, see Philip T. Rutherford, Prelude to the Final Solution: The Nazi Program for Deporting Ethnic Poles, 1939-1941, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 2007.The author gives a brief, historical background for German-Polish relations, showing their place in the Nazi policies of expelling Poles and resettling Germans in their place. The view that this process was a prelude to the Jewish Holocaust is correct only in so far as the deportation procedures are concerned. As the author acknowledges, in these deportations the Germans wanted to get rid of ethnic Poles, although Polish citizens of the Jewish race, or faith, were also deported to German-occupied Poland.]
(c). We should note the deportation of some 400,000 Poles to the USSR in 1939-41, while refugees and men conscripted into the Red Army probably raised the number of Polish citizens (Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, Belarusians) in the USSR in 1941-45 to about 1,000,000. The postwar expulsion of the Polish population from territories lost by Poland to the USSR was the result of Soviet westward expansion agreed to by the U.S. and Great Britain at the Big Three conferences of Tehran and Yalta.
d) The genocide and "ethnic cleansing" that took place in the wars in former Yugoslavia, 1991-95: the Serb- Croat-Muslim war in Bosnia, the Serb-Kosovar war, then Serb ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, 1999, were the result of two factors: (a) claims to the same land by two or three different ethnic nations, and (b) past nationalist conflicts and hatreds manipulated by the leaders.
Thus, none of the atrocities of World War II or those in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s can be traced back to President Woodrow Wilson and his insistence on self-determination in 1919.
II. The countries of post-communist East Central (or Central) Europe,* BY COUNTRY
*[The State Dept. now uses the term: "Central Europe" for Germany, Austria, Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, but in these Lecture Notes, the last country is discussed in the section on S.E. Europe; the State Dept. uses the term "East Central Europe" for Belarus and Ukraine.]
The Communists suffered a humiliating defeat in the elections of 4 June 1989 (see Lec Notes 19A). Once the results were known, the actress Jolanta Szczepkowska announced on TV: "Ladies and Gentlemen - Communism ended in Poland on June 4." Indeed, 160 out of the 161 Solidarity candidates who ran for the 35% contested seats in the Sejm (pron. Seym, Lower House of Parliament), won them in the first round. What is more, people crossed off almost all communist deputies named on their ballots. As a result, only 3 members of the government coalition won seats, and they did so with the support of Solidarity. Solidarity also won 99 out of 100 seats - all open for contest - in the restored Senate.
The Communists acknowledged defeat - apparently on advice from Mikhail S.Gorbachev - while Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and his advisers agreed to a run off election which brought communists into the legislature. In July 3, the KOR and Solidarity dissident Adam Michnik, the editor of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza (Electoral Paper), made his famous proposal: "Your President - our Prime Minister," proposing a Solidarity deal with the Communists. On July 14, Walesa, in accordance with the Roundtable Agreements, appealed for an immediate presidential election from among the party-government coalition. Everyone knew that the only candidate was Gen. Jaruzelski. On July 19, the Sejm gave Jaruzelski 270 votes against 233, with 34 abstentions. (Some Solidarity members deliberately cast invalid votes to lower the threshold of absolute majority). Jaruzelski squeezed by with one vote above the mandatory minimum, and became President of Poland. (He resigned in July 1990). In August, the two satellite parties abandoned their coalition with the PZPR (PUWP - Polish United Workers' Party), and joined the Citizens’ Parliamentary Club (Solidarity), giving the latter a majority. It was not surprising, therefore, that General Czeslaw Kiszczak (pron. Cheslaf Keeshchaak), former Minister of Internal Affairs, and then Mieczyslaw Rakowski (pron. Myecheslaaf Rahkofskee) failed to form a government.
President Jaruzelski turned to Walesa for advice
on who was to be appointed Prime Minister. They agreed on Tadeusz Mazowiecki
(b.1927), a lawyer, journalist, devout Roman Catholic, co-founder of KOR (Komitet Obrony Robotnikow = Committee for the Defence of Workers formed in 1976), and a well known Solidarity
activist. In the Sejm (Parliament), 378 deputies voted for him, with 4 against and 41 abstentions. He
announced the new government on September 12, 1989 with only 9 communists --
including General Kiszczak as Deputy Premier and Minister of the
Interior, and General Siwicki as Minister of Defense - out of
21 ministers. The new government was approved by a majority vote of the
Sejm (402 for, 13 abstentions). According to the Roundtable Agreements, the Communists should have held the ministries of the Interior, Defense, and
Foreign Affairs, but held only the first two - and not for long. Krzysztof
Skubiszewski, (pron. Kshyshtoff Skoobeeshevskee) professor of International Law, Adam Mickiewicz University,
Poznan, and never a party member, became Foreign Minister. Again, it seems that
Gorbachev advised Rakowski (the new head of the PZPR after
Jaruzelski resigned the post when he became president) to accept the new government.
The president's power was considerable, including the right to impose martial
law, so presumably Gorbachev felt that he could well agree to the new Polish
Adam Michnik 1999
New York Times Magazine, November 7,1999, pp. 70, 72
Meanwhile, before Rakowski's resignation as Premier on July 31,the Sejm voted to create a free market economy as of August 1. This meant that meat ration cards were abolished, and all food prices were free. This led to a price increase of 264.3%, second only to price increases in former Yugoslavia. Thus, the new government faced a very difficult economic situation. It grew worse for a good while due to the "shock therapy" or "the Balcerowicz plan" named after Minister of Finances, Leszek Balcerowicz. He issued a set of ten regulations in January 1990 aiming to restructure the economy - and prices jumped another 585.8% that year, again second only to former Yugoslavia. At the same time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved the Mazowiecki governmentís reform plan and granted credits of $700 million, plus $1 Ĺ billion from the World Bank.
The new policy was meant to fight inflation, also to reduce foreign debt and the budget deficit. However, it impoverished a large part of the population, leading to rising unemployment and therefore labor strikes. Indeed, the government had to impose price controls on flour and bread in late January 1990.
The old communist party, the PZPR, decided at its 11th Congress to dissolve itself and did so on January 29, 1990. The vast majority of the delegates voted to create a new party: The Social Democracy of the of the Polish Republic (Polish acronym: SDRP). Alexander Kwasniewski, then 36 years old, a former youth activist, Sports Minister, and one of the chief party negotiators at the Roundtable Talks, became Chairman of the Partyís Head Council, while Leszek Miller, 44 years old, was elected Secretary General of the Executive Committee. The new party took over the assets of the old PZPR, but lost 95% of them to later privatization. The minority delegates at the Congress, who supported Tadeusz Fiszbach, lst Secretary in Gdansk, 1980, formed the Polish Social Democratic Union. Unlike the SDRP , they proclaimed a complete break with the old PZPR, but did not manage to survive.
Local government elections took place on May 27, 1990, but only 42.27% of voters chose to vote. (In the U.S. an average 33% of those with the right to vote, participate in elections). Presidential elections were held in December 1990, and Walesa won in the second round, elected President for five years. His most serious rival was an expatriate Pole who won enough votes to produce a second round, while Mazowiecki lost by a large majority. Parliamentary elections were held on October 27, 1991, with a turnout of 43%, and produced a right-wing coalition headed by Jan Olszewski.
Lech Walesa's Reflections on the East European situation in 1999.
Note that Walesa was angry at gains made by former communists, a sentiment widely held in Poland. He faults the Western Powers for not establishing a Marshall Plan for E.Europe, and blames the economic catastrophe (of the transition period) on them. One may well sympathize with this view. Of course, the Marshall Plan for W. Europe stemmed from U.S. fear that economic chaos and poverty would lead to Communist electoral victories, especially in France and Italy, which would open the way for Soviet domination of W.Europe. However, the USSR collapsed in late Dec. 1991, so there was no immediate threat of renewed Soviet domination in E.Europe. Therefore, the U.S. and W.Europe did not see the need to give massive economic aid to E. Europe.
Many Polish workers and their leaders saw the source of their impoverishment and unemployment in former communists who became non-communist politicians. In 1996, Marian Krzaklewski, head of the Solidarity Trade Union looked to right-wing parties and used slogans such as keeping abortion illegal and honoring God and Catholicism in the Polish constitution. He claimed that communists and atheists were running the country. * This later developed into the ideology of the right-wing "Prawo i Sprawiedlwosc" (PIS = Law and Justice) Party led by the Kaczynski brothers, who came to power in Oct. 2005 but PiS lost the elections of Oct. 2007. (See discussion of PiS later in this lecture.)
*[see David Ost, The Defeat of Solidarity. Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe (Ithaca and London,2005, p.2). Ost argues that Solidarity's political leaders set out to to establish market capitalism, abandoning the workers who had brought them to power. He believes that struggle on the basis of class should continue within a bourgois-capitalist system, otherwise illiberal (undemocratic) politics develop. In post-communist Poland,however, class struggle was so tightly connected in people's minds with communism and the USSR that it was probably impossible to organize political action on a class basis.]
The Polish-German frontier.
Germany was unified in October 1990. German Chancellor Helmuth Kohl at first opposed official recognition of the Polish-German frontier -- and thus the inclusion of Poland in the unification conferenc -- because he feared to lose the votes of those Germans, or rather their descendants, who came from the German territories awarded to Poland in 1945. However, he gave in to pressure from the United States and Britain, so Poland was represented in the third round of the conference, in July 1990, which dealt with Germanyís eastern frontiers.
The Roman Catholic Church.
While communist ministers were replaced by Solidarity supporters, and later by former communists, the Catholic Church exerted great influence on successive governments. This was especially visible on the issue of prohibiting abortion (with some exceptions), which had been voluntary since 1956. After the collapse of Communism, people did not go to church as often as before, but the church remains a powerful influence in the country. Chuch support helps right-wing and moderate candidates in elections, although the Church declares that it does not take sides in politics..
The Mazowiecki government was criticized later for not undertaking measures of "de-communisation," that is, verification of government officials and politicians to exclude from public life those who had cooperated with the Security Services under Communist rule. However, Mazowiecki followed the general line of toleration and avoidance of vindictiveness that was popular in leading Solidarity circles. Indeed, the opening of the Secret Police files in former East Germany and Czechoslovakia led to many abuses, and the succeeding Olszewski governmentís attempt to use them as a weapon against political opponents proved highly unpopular. (The right-wing government led by Jan Olszewski , resigned Dec. 1991. De-Communisation finally got under way in Poland in 1999. Each person holding or chosen to hold a political post had to declare whether he/she ever worked to the Security Police (SB). There have been a few cases when Ministers, who denied such work, were found to have lied and were forced to resign.)
The elections of September 1993 brought in a preponderantly Left-wing government dominated by the Democratic Left Alliance (SDL) supported by the Peasant Party. This electoral victory reflected the dissatisfaction of the majority of Poles with the painful transition to a free market economy. Indeed, selected economic indicators for Poland in the years 1989-1993 showed a disastrous decline in production, consumption, employment and exports in the year 1990, although a significant recovery began in 1993. It is true that the decline of the GDP in Poland was comparable with Hungary in 1990-92, running at about 17%, and lower than the decline in Czechoslovakia, which was close to 23%, while the Romanian GDP was reduced by about 32% and the Bulgarian by almost 28%. However, this was little comfort for the Poles. *
*[see Kazimierz Poznanski, Polandís Protracted Transition. Institutional Change and Economic Growth, 1970-1994, Cambridge, 1995, p. 193. For an excellent, recent study, see Richard J. Hunter, Jr. Leo V. Ryan C.S.V, "The Ten Most Important Economic and Political Events Since the Onset of the Transition in Post-Communist Poland," The Polish Review, vol. LIII, 2008, no. 2, pp. 183-216. It is summarized and updated in The Sarmatian, September 2008.].
The new left-wing government failed to improve the living conditions of the majority of the population, so it fell in the elections of September 1997, which saw the victory of the "Solidarity Electoral Action" (Polish abbreviation: AWS), a coalition of right and center splinter parties put together by Aleksander Krzaklewski.
In the meanwhile, in December 1995, Walesa lost the presidential election by a very small margin to the ex-communist, Aleksander Kwasniewski, who used American election campaign tactics. He was re-elected President in 2000 and was the most popular Polish politician of his day, while the right-wing coalition suffered extensive fragmentation and lost the election of all 2001 to a left-wing coalition (SDL). This coalition was very unpopular with the Polish people, who suffered high unemployment with an average 17-18%. (East German unemployment stood at about 22% but welfare payments, funded by W.Germany were very high). Also, the trade unions, including Solidarity [now only a trade union] that represents workers in state- owned, inefficient and debt ridden industries, frequently demonstrated against the government. The most vocal protests were made by the coal miners because the government was shutting down inefficient and unproductive mines. Coal miners used to be the elite of the Polish working class and were very well paid. Many were now unemployed and found it difficult to take up other work. Farmers also demonstrated, demanding guaranteed payments for their produce.
[President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Premier Leszek Miller and Russian President Vladimir Putin, then visiting Poland, 16 January 2002. From Anna Bochwiec, III RZECZPOSPOLITA W ODCINKACH.]
The economic situation greatly improved with Poland's entry into the European Union in 2004. This brought greater foreign investment and allowed many Poles to work in EU countries, thus lowering unemployment at home. In fact, by 2006, about half a million Poles were estimated to work in Gt. Britain and Ireland, while many also worked in Germany. A shortage of skilled labor was noted in Poland while demand for foreign labor dropped in W. Europe. (Some Poles began returning home in 2007, a trend which continued in the financial crisis that began in the U.S. in fall 2008 and soon affected the rest of the world.)
The political situation also changed. In fall 2005, the right-wing Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (PIS = Law and Justice) party won a significant number of votes in the parliamentary elections and Lech Kaczynski (pron. Lekh Kachynskee) was elected President for 5 years. He promised not to appoint his twin brother Jaroslaw (pron. Yaroslav) as Premier, but soon did just that. The PIS formed a coalition government with two right wing splinter parties: The Samoobrona (Self-Defense) a small peasant party led by Andrzej Lepper and the Liga Polskich Rodzin (League of Polish Families, LPR) led by Roman Giertych, (grandson of prewar and wartime National Democratic leader Jedrzej Giertych, and named after Roman Dmowski, who led the National Democrats until his death in Jan. 1939). The Kaczynski brothers had started out in politics alongside Lech Walesa in Solidarity, then held high office under him as President, but were dismissed and then turned against him, Now they implemented populist, nationalist, right-wing policies. They planned to carry out the "lustration" (verification of non-cooperation with communist security services) of all central and local government officials (est. at 700,000!) and even demanded the lustration of people well known for their opposition to communist rule. The only parliamentarian who refused lustration was Bronislaw Geremek, who had, indeed, been a communist but resigned from the PZPR over the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He had, in the meanwhile, been an adviser to Solidarity, was imprisoned, and, after the fall of communism, became Foreign Minister and was elected to the European Parliament, where he was highly respected. He had been cleared twice of cooperation with the Security Police when he refused lustration under the aegis of the Kaczynski government. (He died in a car accident in July 2008).
[The twins, Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, during the Parliamentary Session of 29 November 2001, from Anna Bochwiec, III RZEPOSPOLITA W ODCINKACH.)
The PIS-led coalition was already in disarray when it lost the elections in fall 2007. A moderately right wing party, the "Platforma Obywatelska" (pron. Plaatformah Obyvatelskah -- Civic Platform), led by Donald Tusk -- a native of Gdansk with a degree in History and a co-founder of the "Liberal Democratic Congress" in 1991), won a significant number of votes. He had run for President and lost to Lech Kaczynski in 2005. Now, he created a coalition government with the Zjednoczone Stronnictwo Ludowe (ZSL = United Peasant Party), whose leader, Waldemar Pawlak, became deputy Premier (he had been Premier in 1992 and 1993-95). Lech Kaczynski, however, remained as President (elected for 5 years in 2005). He has been following his own foreign policy and criticizing the new government. Also, he has constantly stressed Polish grievances against Germany, Russia, and the European Union, as well as pushing for closer Polish relations with the United States.
In 2005-07, when the Kaczynski-led coalition was in power, they managed to appoint right wingers to leading positions not only at the IPN (Institute of National Memory) but also in Polish public media, especially state TV, all of which continued to publicize their views on domestic politics and foreign policy in 2008. They have also continued their earlier campaign against Walesa, focusing on the charge that he was a Security Police agent from Dec. 1970 to sometime in 1976, and perhaps even later. This charge was first circulated by the Security Police in 1983, in an effort to prevent the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him, but the award was made and his wife Danuta received it for him. Walesa has always rejected the charge and was cleared of it in the 1990s. He does admit signing a piece of paper for the Security Police to get out of jail and return to his family, after being arrested as one of the strike leaders in the Gdansk shipyard in Dec. 1970. (Indeed, in over almost half a century of communist rule, many people signed agreements to "cooperate" withe Security Police for one reason or another, but this is not the same thing as actually doing so. Most honest people simply tried to avoid harming anyone in their co-called cooperation.) The Kaczynski-controlled media, however, identify Walesa as "agent Bolek," who appears in many Security Police documents of the 1970s. A book titled SB a Walesa (The Security Police and Walesa), produced by two right wing historians, Slawomir Cenckiewicz and Piotr Gontarczyk (published with many SB documents in June 2008 by the Polish Institute of National Memory (IPN. See Lec.Notes 18a). Walesa said he would take the authors to court, but in September stated that he would wait for the law to be changed.On Sept. 29 2008, there were celebrations in Warsaw on the occasion of Walesa's 65th birthday and the 25th anniversary of his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
General Jaruzelski was again subjected to a trial in October 2008. He was charged with the "criminal acts" committed under Martial Law. (See Lec.Notes 18A for Martial Law and the trial.)
While the controversy over the book on Walesa and the Secruity Police is ongoing, other events have claimed Polish attention. On August 7, the Georgian army moved into autonomous South Osssetia and bombarded its capital, but were pushed out by a massive Russian counterattack. The Russians routed the Georgian army and also helped autonomous Abkhazia (with ports on the Black Sea) to attack the Georgians. Russian troops advanced into the heart of Georgia and blew up an important railway bridge. An armistice was brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy - also president of the European Union -- but the Russians took their time to withdraw. Georgia has received much verbal support from its western neighbors, W. Europe and the USA. The Russian government claims to have acted in defense of Russian citizens in S. Ossetia, but has recognized the independence of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia. It has also emphasized its view that it has a "privileged" role to play in states that were formerly part of the USSR -- which include Belarus, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, plus Central Asian states..
On August 20 2008,Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (Raadoslaav Seekorskee) and the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the "Missile Shield Treaty" and an agreement Polish-U.S. military cooperation in Warsaw . American missiles wiere to be placed in northern Poland. Polish public opinion had opposed the missiles, but swung in their favor after the Russian invasion of Georgia. Sikorski had held out for U.S. financial aid to modernize the Polish armed forces, and managed to obtain it. The treaty involved the positioning of U.S. Patriot Missiles in Poland, while the radar installations are to be placed in the Czech Republic. The Czech government had agreed to these installations earlier, despite much public opposition as well as opposition by Russia. (The Czechs are to be protected, if necessary, by missiles launched from U.S. warships in the Mediterranian.)
The stated aim of these two"Target" treaties is to enable the U.S. to track and shoot down Iranian missiles aimed at the United States. (Their most direct trajectory is alleged to be over Poland.) Russia opposed the treaties and has condemned them, warning Poland that it will now be targeted by Russian missiles. The missiles are to be put on site in Poland by 2012. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visited Warsaw on Sept.8, 2008, and, while demanding respect for Russian rights to predominant influence in the territories of the former USSR, expressed readiness to accept the Missile Shield Treaty provided it was accompanied by real guarantees, which would have to negotiated.
As it turned out, the U.S. missiles placed in Poland were unarmed mockups and after the Democratic victory in the U.S. elections of Nov. 2008, President Obama did not go any further. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented a "RESET" button to Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov.
The recession which began in 2008 and went into full swing in 2009, focused .U.S.attention on the economy.
What is the Polish balance sheet for the 19 years following the collapse of communism? Democracy is solidly entrenched, privatization has made good progress, and the country is far more prosperous than in 1989. Only 9.6% of workers were unemployed in June 2008, a great decrease from 2005-2006. Hundreds of thousands of Poles took advantage of Poland joining the European Union [EU] in 2004, to seek work in Western Europe. The largest number found work in England and Ireland. Some have been returning home in summer and fall 2008, especially when the credit crisis, begun in the U.S., has also hit Europe. Poland's no. 1 trading partner is Russia, from which Poland obtains most of its oil and gas. The Poles are now seeking alternate sources of energy.
major reforms, implemented all at once after the communist collapse, caused much chaos, especially in the
Health Service, which is severely underfounded. There was much civil
unrest in the form of peaceful or even violent protests in the 1990s, e.g. by Polish farmers
against the import of foreign foodstuffs . However, some political scientists
argued that this demonstrates the strong hold that democracy has on the country.**
Membership in the EU has helped well prepared farmers since 2004.
**[see: Grzegorz Ekiert and Jan Kubik, Rebellious Civil Society. Popular Protest and Democratic Consolidation in Poland, 1989-1993, University of Michigan Press, 1999. G. Ekiert is professor of Government at Harvard University; J. Kubik is professor of Political Science at Rutgers University].
On the whole, the picture is more positive than negative. Poland is economically better off than Russia and most of the Balkan states, although it lags behind the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia.
However, Polish economic progress is far from uniform. On the one hand, the key cities have prospered. Warsaw has been experiencing a massive construction boom for many years and has become a very expensive city. Krakow has become a great tourist attraction, for it has been spruced up and is a pleasure to see in comparison with the drab days of communism. Poznan, Gdynia, Gdansk and Szczecin all demonstrate prosperity while Wroclaw has become a "star" city. Direct foreign Investment has poured in, bringing better returns within 7 years than Paris or Berlin, where returns come after 20 years. The Polish economy grew by about 33% in the period 1995-2000, outstripping Hungary and the Czech republic. * Investment decreased precipitously with the economic recession that appeared in the West that yea, but Polish exports grew by more than 30% since 2004, while exports to Russia alone rose by 75% and the foreign trade share of the GDP in 2008 was about the same.*
*[On the upswing of the Polish economy, see Leo V. Ryan, CSV, and Richard Hunter Jr., "An Interim Report on the Polish Economy," The Sarmatian Review, vol. 28, no. 3, 2008, pp.1418-1421. For more detail, see their article in the Polish Review, v. 53 no. 2, 2008, pp. 183-216.
On the other hand, in medium and small, one-industry towns, the factories or mills have been disintegrating. The inhabitants live off small welfare payments supplemented by their garden plots. One example is Tomaszow Mazowiecki (pron. Tohmaszoof Mazohvetskee), about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south-west of Warsaw. It used to be a textile manufacturing center, but no investor has appeared so far to buy up the outdated mills and modernize them. At the same time, another small town, north of Warsaw, Plock, which used to live off its oil refineries, managed to attract a U.S. Levis producer and acquired a private university, However, the Levis have now moved to Ukraine, where labor is cheaper. This is also true of the manufacture of other consumer goods. (One producer of luxury Polish leather goods, now has its products made in China).
In general, heavy industry suffered greatly, with many workers either laid off or paid an inadequate wage, while tens of thousands of coal miners were laid off with one time benefit payments. The former Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, the cradle of Solidarity, later renamed the "Pilsudski Shipyard," was sold off in pieces to private investors and many former workers were laid off; some parts are still for sale. Before 2004 (when Poland joined the EU) it was estimated that overall, about 15-20% of the population had become wealthy since 1989 and another 15-20% managed to live well, which left about 55-60% living near or at the poverty level, while the welfare safety net is inadequate. This is not surprising, for welfare is only adequate in wealthy European countries like Britain, France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Berlin and Paris are now attempting to cut back welfare payments and health benefits, but are meeting great popular opposition in the process.
The farmers of Poland, still make up 20% of the employed population.The average farm has 5 hectares of land (about 12.35 acres), so it is too small to be efficient. The state farms were dissolved and many were bought up by private investors. However, the collective farms - even the well run ones - were left to rot, along with the people who worked them.
Private farmers borrowed heavily from the government to modernize and found it difficult to pay off their debts. They were hard hit in the early 1990s by western agricultural imports, which were cheaper than their own products due to European Union (UE) subsidies for agricultural goods. Therefore, they protested, sometimes violently, both against foreign food imports and against the lack of adequate, guaranteed, government prices for agricultural produce. Indeed, the main obstacle to Polandís entry into the European Union was EU unwillingness to subsidize Polish farmers, so the vast majority of P. farmers opposed entry into EU for fear they will not be able to compete with its products. The other obstacle is the need to adapt Polish laws to the EU legal system, but this is making progress. As mentioned earlier,well prepared farmers have received funds from the EU since Poland joined the EU in 2004. Some farmers' wives have found well paid jobs in W. Europe, especially as caretakers for older people, but there has also been much exploitation in W. Europe of workers without language and other skills. (Some were found working in conditions resembling WW II labor camps.)
Higher Education and Research
As in all post-communist states, higher education and research have also suffered grievously in Poland from under-funding by the government, as have scholarly publications.
The Polish health service was reformed in such a way in 1999 that chaos still reigns. It will take both time and money to put the service in order. Meanwhile, private clinics are doing well.
Old Age Pensioners.
Old age pensioners and people earning low wages are often forced to leave their formerly subsidized apartments when private owners decide to sell the house or rent it out for higher prices.
The Ethnic makup of contemporary Poland.
Poland is more ethnically homogeneous than it has ever been, with minorities making up about 5-7% of the total population of some 40 million today*
*[see: Tadeusz Piotrowski, POLANDíS HOLOCAUST. Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic,1918-1947, Jefferson, N.C. and London, 1998, p. 260; Gabriele Simoncini, "National Minorities of Poland at the End of the Twentieth Century," The Polish Review, vol. XLIII (43), 1998, no. 2, pp.173-194].
However, minorities are much more visible than in the communist era. The German minority, located mostly in Silesia, has its deputies in parliament, also its own press and radio stations, while the German language is taught in schools by teachers coming from Germany. There have been clashes with ethnic Poles when German and Polish Silesians built or tried to build monuments to their Wehrmacht (German Army) dead. Silesians were subject to conscription into the Wehrmacht, but many of Polish descent deserted to the allied armies, esp. the Polish 2nd Corps in Italy. Those sent to the Russian front were either killed or used for forced labor after capture.)
There was a latent fear in Poland that Germans would come in and buy up land in western Poland once the latter entered the European Union. For this reason, the Polish parliament passed a law prohibiting sale of land to foreigners for 20 years without the permission of the government. (This is contrary to EU legislation and a compromise 7 years period after Poland jonied the EU was agreed that year, i.e. 2004).
There is also a movement with roots in the pre- World War I and interwar periods demanding recognition of a "Silesian minority," which is neither Polish nor German. However, as of now, it is weaker than the recognized German minority which benefits from German financial support.*
*[see: Karl Cordell, Tomasz Kamusella and Karl Martin Born, "The Articulation of Identity in Silesia since 1989," in: Karl Cordell, ed., The Politics of Ethnicity in Central Europe, Houndmills, Basingstoke, England, and New York, 2000, ch. 7, pp. 161-187; K. Cordell is a political scientist specializing in German and Polish politics, also German-Polish relations, who was then teaching at the University of Plymouth, Great Britain; K.M. Born, a German scholar, was then a Senior Research Fellow there; Tomasz Kamusella is a specialist on the politics of identity in Silesia, who has taught at the University of Opole, Poland and worked in the Provincial Administration there and has recently been teaching at Trinity College, Dublin. NOTE: Five of the eight chapters in this collective work deal with Silesia. The book has a very useful list of place names with Polish and German versions, a Chronology of Silesian history, maps, end notes to chapters and an index].
There are only a few thousand Jews still living in Poland, mostly old people. There is some residual anti-Semitism, but occasional acts such as painting swastikas on walls, or the destruction of headstones in cemeteries, are generally confined to "skinheads" or extreme right-wing youth groups, which is also the case in other European countries. There are legal conflicts over the return of private property to the descendants of Polish Jews. The Polish government takes the stand that religious property must be returned to religious bodies, but the return of private property cannot differentiate between Jews and non-Jews, for many Christian Poles also lost their property either to the Germans in World War II, or to confiscation- nationalization by communist regimes after the war. (It should be noted that no compensation has, as yet, been paid to Polish landowners who lost their property in former eastern Poland, although it can be claimed that those who settled in former German territories were compensated with land there. Most of those people, however, had very small farms before WWII.)
There are positive aspects to the Polish-Jewish
relationship. There is an annual festival of Jewish culture in Krakow and since 1989 "Marches of the Living" take place at Auschwitz (P. Oswiecim)
to commemorate the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. On May
2, 2000, the President of Israel, Ezer Weizman and the President of Poland,
Aleksander Kwasniewski, led the annual march.
Some 5-6,000 young Jews and 800-1,000 young Poles took part in the march.
Kwasniewski called on the young Jews to put historical prejudice behind
them and see the Poles as their friends. Both Walesa and Kwasniewski have expressed deep regret for crimes committed by Poles against Jews in World War II. Finally, Polish and Israeli historians
have been working on new school text books which will discuss the Jewish Holocaust
in German-occupied Poland in a manner avoiding mutual hostility or recrimination. Polish school children now learn about the Jewish Holocaust at school.
There is some friction with the Ukrainian minority. While most of Polandís Ukrainians live on the western Baltic coast -- where their grandparents or parents were forcibly resettled from south-eastern Poland in 1947 in "Operation Vistula" -- the main point of friction is near the Polish-Ukrainian frontier in the town of Przemysl (pron. Pshemysel), which has a small but vocal Ukrainian minority. At the same time, while official Polish-Ukrainian relations are good, conflicts persist, e.g. over the renovation of the Polish military cemetery in Líviv (P. Lwow), where Polish soldiers killed in the Polish-Ukrainian war of 1918-19 are buried. (The L'viv City Council obviously dislikes honoring the Poles for defeating the Ukrainians at that time).
There is also frictionin south-eastern Poland over the building by Ukrainians of monuments to heroes of the Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army (Ukr. acronym: UPA), some of whose units (esp. the Bandera faction of UPA) murdered about 60,000 Poles in former Volhynia in 1943-44, in order to cleanse the area of Poles. Polish and Ukrainian heads of state have exchanged apologies for the past, but Ukrainian and Polish resentment lingers on. In July 2003, the Polish and Ukrainian Presidents -- Aleksander Kwaniewski and Leonid Kuchma -- made conciliatory declarations on the Ukrainian Insurectionary Army (UPA) massacres of Poles in Volhynia in 1943 and Polish retaliation against the UPA. However, west Ukrainian opinion generally blames the Poles for murdering Ukrainians and is reluctant to acknowledge the crimes of the Bandera faction in the Volhynian UPA. Both sides also committed atrocities in East Galicia.The Poles, for their part, don't like to admit that the Home Army, in retaliation, carried out some atrocities against Ukrainians, and that Polish Communist Security Forces carrying out "Operation Vistula" in 1947 were also guility of atrocities.*
*[On the Ukrainian ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia in World War II, see Lec. Note 19, Introduction].
Polish Relations with Lithuania and Belarus; Lithuanian and Belarusian minorities in Poland.
Official Polish-Lithuanian relations are good, but in the early 1990s the Lithuanian government discriminated against its Polish minority, which made up about 9% of the total population and is stil concentrated in the Vilnius [Polish: Wilno] region. This was mostly due to the fact that part of this minority supported continued union with the USSR when the majority of the Lithuanian population wanted independence in 1988-89. The Poles feared Lithuanian discrimination and this, in fact, came into being with Lithuanian independence in 1989-1990. The situation has improved since that time, but in September 2008 the Lithuanian Post Office issued an envelope with pictures of Hitler, Pilsudski and Stalin, labelling them as the murderers of the Lithuanian people. Jozef Pilsudski had Polish troops seize the then predominantly Polish city of Wilno (Lith. Vilnius, Rus. Vilna), in October 1920, which was passionately resented by the Lithuanians who claimed it as their capital on historical grounds. (It was the capital of medieval Lithuania.) Pilsudski was not, however, a dictator on the model of Hitler or Stalin, and he did not murder Lithuanians.
Polish local administration policyin the Bialystok region has at times been repressive toward the Belarusian minority . The Polish government, however, supports the opponents of Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenka, president since 1994. The Belarusian government, in turn, makes it difficult for the Polish minority to have the Polish language taught in schools, and to have Polish priests and churches.
These relations have been officially correct, although at times far from cordial. It took the Polish government -- under President Lech Walesa-- until 1993 to secure the withdrawal of the last Russian troops. They left behind devastated buildings as well as land ecologically damaged by gasoline dumps and military exercise areas (same in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and the former German Democratic Republic, now part of united Germany). Poland borders on Russia in the Kaliningrad region (in former East Prussia). Moscow has tried, but failed to obtain a "corridor" through Polish territory to this militarized port city. (Transport goes by sea, also by rail through Lithuania).
President Boris N. Yeltsin once told President Walesa
when visiting Warsaw in 1993, that Russia would have no objection to Poland joining
NATO, but he must have been in his cups because the Russian government continued
to object, although it had to accept the fact in 1999. Polish trade
suffered greatly from the breakdown of the Russian economy when the USSR disintegrated in late 1999. It used
to take some 50% of Polish exports, but in 2008 75% of Polish trade was again with Russia. (This, however, improved a great deal in 2009-10 because of the change of government in Poland and the Smolensk air catastrophe of April 2010, for which see below).
Above all, there are serious Polish-Russian disagreements on interpreting the past.
1. Some Russian historians continue to defend the Ribbentrop-Molotov Non-Aggression Pact of August 23 1939, with the German-Soviet Partition of Poland (Secret Protocol). They claim the pact was mandated by Soviet security needs, even though it brought the German armies that much closer to Moscow. In October 2008, a retired Russian general came forward with 700 pages of documents allegedly showing that Soviet generals had proposed a massive Red Army strike at Germany in mid-August 1939, if Poland agreed to their transit to the German frontiers. (The Sunday Telegraph, London, report of Oct.20, 2008). It is most unlikely, however, that Stalin would have risked a war with Nazi Germany in fall 1939, especially if he knew that the French and British General Staffs had secretly agreed on a defensive posture in case Germany attacked Poland.
Indeed, the Soviet-German partition of Poland put the Germans nearer to Russian territory and resulted in the Wehrmacht reaching the outskirts of Moscow by late October 1941. They might have taken the capital if there had not been an early winter, or if Hitler had left enough armored divisions near Moscow to defeat Georgy Zhukov's counter-attack of 6 December that year.* However, Hitler assumed Moscow would fall and sent these divisions to the Caucasus to seize Soviet oil production. German forces were also besieging Leningrad for almost three years.The Red Army pushed the Germans away from Moscow; defeated them in the Battle of Stalingrad, Feb. 1943, and decisively at the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. From that time on, the Germans were in retreat, but fought tenaciously to the very end.
*[See Andrew Nagorski's book: The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow that Changed the Course of World War II, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2007.]
2. The Katyn Issue in Polish-Russian Relations.
While acknowledging in 1990-92 that the NKVD executed 21,857 * Polish prisoners of war in spring 1940 by order of Stalin and his Politbureau, some Russian historians and Russian media continued to accuse the Poles of perpetrating a "Katyn" of their own by murdering 60,000 out of 100,000 Red Army soldiers taken prisoner in the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-20, (mostly in summer-fall 1920), who did not return home. Polish historians, for their part, pointed out that about 65,000 Russians did go hom, also that most of those who died fell victim to malnutrition and disease, especially the typhus epidemic, which also killed many Poles. Also, some prisoners joined "White Russian" units and fought against the Bolsheviks, while others escaped, melting into the Polish countryside. In early 2001, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski , then Polish Foreign Minister, presented Polish documents on the above question to the Russian government when he visited Moscow, but some Russian historians continue to write about a "Polish Katyn" in 1919-1920. Some progress, however, has been made, at least by professional historians. Polish and Russian historians collaborated on a book on the Red Army men, prisoners of war, in Polish captivity: Krasnoarmyetsy w Polskim Plenu, 1919-1922. Sbornik Dokumentov i Materialov, (Moscow, 2005). The Polish scholars arrived at the figure of 16,000 dead, while the Russians arrived at 18,000. Both figures were nowhere near the 60-65,000 previously claimed by some Russian authors. We should also note that about 50% of Poles taken prisoners by the Bolsheviks did not return home. They probably died of the same causes as the Red Army men -- malnutrition and disease.
*[Of the figure of 21,857 Polish victims, 14,552 were from the 3 special NKVD prisoner- of- war camps at (1) Kozelsk (murdered at Katyn near Smolensk);(2) Ostashkov (murdered in the NKVD jail, Kalinin, now Tver, and buried in nearby Myednoye); and (3) Starobyelsk (murdered in the NKVD jail, Kharkiv, and buried in the park nearby), while 7,305 others were murdered in NKVD prisons in western Belorussia and western Ukraine. For the total figure and its breakdown, see: Note by Chief of KGB USSR, A. Shelepin to Nikita S. Khrushchev, March 9, 1959, in which Shelepin gave the total figure and suggested the destruction of the prisoners’ personal files (which seems to have been done) but keeping the records of the judgments by the Troika (Threesome) appointed to this task (apparently also destroyed), in: KATYN. A Crime Without Punishment, edited by Anna M. Cienciala, USA; Natalia S. Lebedeva, the Russian Federal Republic; and Wojciech Materski, Poland, Yale University Press, 2007 (appeared in late January 2008; reprinted 2009).
Four Polish volumes of Russian Katyn documents were published in Warsaw in 1995-2007. Two Russian volumes appeared in Moscow in 1997, 2001. All these volumes were edited jointly by Lebedeva and Materski. The Eng. lang. volume contains 122 documents selected from their work. Anna M. Cienciala wrote new introductions and gave additional information in the end notes. ]
Polish and Russian military cemeteries were opened in Katyn, Kharkov and Myednoye in summer 2000, with separate but neighboring burial sites for Poles as well as Soviet citizens whose deaths were due to Stalin's policies. The Soviet, later Russian, investigation of the Katyn Crime, begun in 1991, ended unofficially in September 2004 and officially in March 2005 with the conclusion that there had been no genocide or a crime against humanity, but that the Soviet authorities involved had acted beyond their authorization,a crime according to the Soviet Criminal Code of the time, and as such, subject to the statute of limitations. Moreover, the persons accused, notably Stalin and Beria, were dead, so they were not subject to judgement. (This is according to Russian law.) The victims' families and Polish public opinion were outraged by this conclusion. A Polish investigation began in November 2004.
There has been no official apology from Moscow, although the Soviet government of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, expressed "its deep regret" for "a heinous Stalin crime" in April 1990, when it finally acknowledged the NKVD had murdered the Poles in 1940 (Soviet press communique, April 13, 1990. The blame was placed on Beria, then head of the NKVD, and his deputy, Merkulov, with no mention of Stalin.) Also, President Boris Yeltsin was heard asking for forgiveness on visiting the Katyn monument in Warsaw in 1993. Poles do not consider this, however, to be an official apology.
At a press conference during his state visit to Warsaw in January 2002, President Vladimir Putin said that Stalinist crimes cannot be put on the same level as Nazi crimes (i.e. genocide.). His statement should be seen in the context of the Russian admiration of the heroism of the Red Army and the Russian people in the "Great Fatherland War," which was led by Stalin and ended in a smashing victory over Nazi Germany, so anything that casts a shadow on the above is resented.However, the Katyn massacres were not carried out by the Red Army and the Russian people are not blamed for them. It was Stalin and his Politburo who ordered the massacres or forced labor not only of Poles but also of millions of Russians, Ukrainians, and other Soviet citizens.
It is true that Stalin did not use gas chambers to kill his enemies. Many of them were shot, but most of those arrested for alleged anti-state crimes died of what was known in the camps as the "sukhyi rasstrel" (dry shooting), that is, not from a bullet but from disease and exhaustion.** Finally, while the Russians always remember that the Red Army liberated the peoples of Eastern Europe from the Germans, most Russians do not acknowledge that communism and Soviet domination were forcibly imposed on these countries, leading to more loss of life, the imprisonment and mistreatment of thouseands of people,economic hardship, lies about Polish history, and other suffering. Besides the above, Stalinist crimes against both Soviet and other peoples, though much discussed and condemned in the late 1980s - early 1990s under Gorbachev, do not generate much interest among most Russians today. On the contrary, the prevalent view, strongly propagated by the Russian government under President Putin, and now under President Medvedev, is that Stalin was a great leader who modernized the USSR, with some inevitable mistakes on the way. Most important of all, he led the Red Army to victory against Nazi Germany.
President Putin, during a state visit to Warsaw in early 2008, finally called Katyn " a Stalinist crime," but the draft of a Russian history textbook for schools, while acknowledging it as such -- portrays it as justified revenge for the (alleged) Polish murder of Soviet prisoners of war in 1919-1920 and after (August 2008). As mentioned earlier, a projected Russian history textbook for schools presents Katyn as justified revenge for the alleged Polish murder of Soviet POWs in 1920.***
**[For the "sukhyi rasstrel," see Jacques Rossi, Gulag handbook : an encyclopedia dictionary of Soviet penitentiary institutions and terms related to the forced labor camps, translated from the Russian by William A. Burhans, New York, 1989.)
[*** Russian Press, Aug. 25, 2008].
Polish-Russsian Realtions began to change for the better with the election of a center-right coalition government headed by Donald Tusk in October 2007. Tusk took a more friendly line toward Russia, although Lech Kaczynski, elected president for five years in 2005, pursued an overtly anti-Russian line on his own, particularly in supporting Georgia against Russia in 2008. Nevertheless, on Sept. 1, 2009, Putin (Russian Premier since mid-2008) attended the 70th anniversary of the German attack on Poland on Sept. 1, 2009, in Gdansk, and condemned the Secret Protocol to the Nazi-Soviet Pact of Aug. 23, 1939.
Putin and Tusk met again at Katyn on April 9, 2010, where they made speeches to commemorate the massacre of Polish prisoners of war on Stalin's order in spring 1940. This was the first time a Russian Premier had come to Katyn. On the following day, April 10, the plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski, with his wife as well as 96 officials and prominent Poles, crashed in fog at Smolensk airport.This was a terrible tragedy for the Poles, and doubly so for taking place ner Katyn. The Russian leaders, Premier Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev, expressed their condolences, while the Russian people showed their sympathy by bringing flower to the Polish embassay in Moscow and a day of mourning was proclaimed in Russia.
Most Poles appreciated Russian sympathy but President Lech Kaczynski's brother, the leader of the Law and Justice Party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski, immediately expressed the view that Lech and his delegation had been murdered. He and his party charged the Tusk government with responsibility while others spoke of a Russian plot. Despite these charges, the Russian government followed a policy of conciliating Poland. President Medevev expressly condemned Stalin for the Katyn massacre in late April and again during his state visit to Warsaw in early December 2010.
In the meanwhile, Jaroslaw Kaczynski obtained church permission to have his brother and sister-in-law buried at Wawel Castle, Krakow, where famous Poles are buried. This met with widespread disapproval since the late president's achievements did not qualify him for this resteing place. Furthermoe, Jaroslaw's supporters placed a cross in front of the Presidential Palace, Warsaw, and vowed to stay there until a monument was built in this place to Lech Kaczynski. After several weeks, the cross was moved to a church. In the June 2010 Presidential Elections, J. Kaczynski lost to Bronislaw Komorowski, and the PiS party also lost the local government elections in November.
As Polish and Russian commissions invetigated the causes of the Smolenski catastrophe, Jaroslaw. Kaczynski sent two emissaries, former For. Minister Fotyga and former head of State Security, Macierewicz. to Washington to lobby congressmen for support of an international commission to investigate the catastrophe, but they did not succeed. In December, Premier Tusk publicly expressed his disappointment with the report of the Russian commission of investigation,which was resented by Moscow.
In fall and early winter 2010, however, Polish-Russian state relations continued to improve. In late November 2010, the Russian Duma (Legislature) overhelmingly supported a resolution condemning the Katyn massacre and Stalin for ordering it. The conclusion of this resolution stated that: the victims "had been rehabilitated by history." This was welcomed by Polish public opinion but left open legal questions such as: classifying the crime (a war crime,a crime against humanity, genocide, or a combination of these), and rehabilitating the individual victims, that is, legally affirming their innocence. The Russian Memorial Society and the Polish Katyn Families (which have stated they are not demanding any financial compensation), have been fighting for the resolution of these questions, also accessibility to all the documents collected by the official Soviet, then Russian Katyn Investigation, which had been closed by the Russian Military Prosecutor's Office in March 2005. President Medvedev saw to it that some 90 vols of the Russian Katyn investigation were turned over to Poland. (The total number known to exist is over 800.).The head of Memorial's Polish Section, Aleksandr Gurianov, had been supporting the rehabilitation of individual cases brought by victim families to Russian law courts, but after meeting a blank wall the Katyn case was sent to the International Justice Tribunal in the Hague.
Interpreting the recent past: Was communist Poland a semi-sovereign state?
There has been much discussion in Poland on how to characterize the communist "Polish People's Republic," later "Peopleís Poland," 1944-1989: was it a semi-independent state, or a satellite? Should it be called the "Third Republic." [The Polish state which was partitioned in 1772-95 was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Commonwealth is a translation of the Latin Res Publica = Public Matter) which is called "The First Republic." This is because Kings had to obtain the support of the nobles in parliament for their policies. The "Second Republic" was Independent Poland, Nov. 1918- Sept. 1939. The term: "Third Republic" is now used mainly by right-wing Polish political parties to denote post-communist Poland in 1989-2005. (The elections of 2005 brought to power a coalition of right wing parties led by "Law and Justice" headed by the Kaczynski brothers, but they lost the elections of October 2007 to the moderately conservative coalition of "Platforma Obywatelska" (Civic Platform) and the "Zjednoczone Stronnictwo Ludowe" (United Peasant Party), led by Premier Donald Tusk. The short-lived PiS coalition period is sometimes called the "Fourth Republic."
Right wing historians deny Peopleís Poland any independence and condemn it wholesale, while left-wing sympathizers emphasize its national character and the positive aspects of its legacy, such as mass education and the resulting social mobility of workers and peasants. Finally, moderate historians see an increase of Polish Communist governments' elbow room in domestic affairs after October 1956.* Right wing historians also portray the Polish governments of 1989-2005 as dominated by communists. (In fact, they included post-communists, the prime example being Alexander Kwasniewski, President in 1995-2005.)
*[ An excellent, brief survey of the dispute over the character of "People's Poland" can be found in Andrzej Paczkowski, "Communist Poland 1944-1989: Some Controversies and a Single Conclusion," Polish Review, vol. 44, no. 2, 1999, pp. 217-225].
B. Czechoslovakia; the Czech and Slovak Republics.
The first democratic elections were held in Czechoslovakia in June 1990. They resulted in a resounding vote against communism because the people voted for the "Civic Forum" in the Czech lands and for the "Public against Violence" in Slovakia. However, these two coalitions soon differed over economic and constitutional issues.
The conflict over economics was between proponents of a speedy transition to the free market and those - former communists and socialists - who wanted a gradual transition with built-in safeguards to maintain living standards. When Finance Minister Vaclav Klaus was elected head of the Civic Forum in October 1990, reforms for a fast transition began. The currency was devalued by 54.5% and privatization took off. Prices doubled in Jan. 1991. The budget was balanced in 1992. The effects of these reforms were harsh. Production and real wages fell and so did foreign trade, which was the result of collapse of the Comecon (Communist Economic Cooperation bloc), especially the Soviet markets.
The Czech conflict with Slovakia was another result of economic reforms - for unemployment in Slovakia was over twice that in the Czech lands (10% versus 4%). Slovak heavy industry, especially armaments, depended heavily on the Soviet market, which deteriorated after 1989. No wonder the Slovaks turned against the shock therapy implemented by V. Klaus .Economic suffering strengthened old resentments against the Czechs. These were manipulated by the former communist leader - and ex-boxer - Vladimir Meciar who emerged as a Slovak nationalist.
In the Czech lands, the elections of January 1992 swept away many idealists who had led the November-December "Velvet Revolution" of 1989. The elections brought in professional politicians. Klaus' ODS (Civic Democracy Party) won the largest number of votes in the Czech lands. Klaus was at logger heads with President Vaclav Havel, whose term of office ended in Dec. 2002. He was succeeded as President by none other than Klaus, but the Czech parliament elected him by the margin of only one vote.
Jirina Siklova, smuggled books to Czechoslovakia from the West, - She became head of the Gender Studies Dept., Charles IV University, Prague.
[New York Times Magazine, November 7, 1999, p. 80.]
In January 1992, the Slovak National Council approved a declaration of sovereignty, though not independence by 113 votes to 24. Meciar wanted complete economic autonomy, which meant state subsidies for industry and slowing down privatization - neither of which Klaus would accept. He saw the Slovaks as impeding his reforms and pressed for separation. At the same time, Slovak opinion was turning more against the Czechs. Nevertheless, it is important to note that there was no absolute majority among Czechs and Slovaks in favor of separation; even in September 1991, when opinion polls showed only 46% of Czechs and 41% Slovaks were for it.
In fact, the agreement to separate the two nations was made by the politicians, Klaus and Meciar, both of whom opposed a plebiscite (referendum) on the matter. The Federal Assembly voted for separation on October 1, 1992, but the majority failed to reach 2/3 as mandated by the constitution. On November 25, 55 opposing deputies abstained, so a majority was achieved. Despite appeals by President Havel and the work of many Slovaks supporters of the union, the two parts of Czechoslovakia became separate states on Jan. 1, 1993.
In the Czech Republic, economic reforms continued and Klaus was the most popular leader in September1993 after President Havel. But a left-wing party, the CSSD (Czech Social Democratic Party), led by Milos Zeman opposed Klaus and his reform program in favor of slower transition and a larger safety net. Indeed, by 1996, the CSSD was close behind Klausís ODS (Civic Democratic Party), with 26.4% of the vote. Klaus and his party suffered setbacks in late 1996 and in 1997 due to financial and banking scandals. Finally, he was forced to resign due to another scandal (donations to his party) in 1998, but was elected President in December 2002 and re-elected in 2006.
The Czech economy is in very good shape; it has benefitted from large foreign investment, especially from Germany. It is the first country among the former Comecon (Communist Common Market) to be recognized as a "developed" country (2006). It also ranks first among former communist states in the Human Development Index. *
*[see: Czech Republic, Wikipedia, 2008).
In ethnic relations, we should note the rise of racism and xenophobia in the Czech and Slovak republics, as instanced especially by discrimination against and attacks on the Roma (gypsies). This led to mass Roma emigration, both legal and illegal, especially to Britain and Canada, so that both countries took measures to restrict it.
In Slovakia, initial economic hardship reduced
Meciarís popularity, He lost power in spring 1994 but regained it in
the September election that year. He soon established an authoritarian regime,
which, along with acommunist- style economic policy, isolated the country from
the West. He developed close ties with Russia, on which Slovakia depends
for all of its natural gas and 80% of its oil, while exporting aircraft engines
in return. The economic situation improved and Meciar manipulated Slovak nationalism
to his advantage, so he was able to stay in power until October 1998.
The new government of Mikulas Dzurinda that came to power at that time launched an ambitious program of economic reform aiming at a rapid transition to the free market. On April 2000, Meciar was arrested by a Swat-like team which dynamited his back door to get into the house. He was charged with corruption (paying illegal bonuses worth $350,000 to his cabinet ministers), but released on bail pending trial. Dzurinda retained power after the parliamentary elections of Oct. 2002. Slovak economic development has been impressive and the country became a member of both the EU and NATO. It is, however, 100% dependent on Russian oil and gas.
Slovak-Hungarian relations have had their ups and downs. Slovaks have pursued a policy of assimilation toward the large Hungarian minority in the southern part of the country, which has led to tensions with Hungary. *
*[See: Tunde Paskas, "The Influence of Language Policies on Slovak-Hungarian Relations in Slovakia," Analysis of Current Events, Nov-Dec.1998, vol. 10, nos.11-12, published by the Association for the Study of Nationalities in Eastern Europe and ex-USSR, pp. 5-6].
The new, democratic Slovak government that came into power in October 1998, worked to improve these relations, but the Gabcikovo Hydrolectric Dam on the Danube river, started under communist rule, has been a problem. The Slovaks wanted to complete it, diverting the Danube river for their needs, while the Hungarians opposed it. The case was put before the International Court of Justice at the Hague, which decided in September 1997 that the two parties were to continue negotiations in good faith. The Slovaks almost completed their part of the dam, but could not put it into operation without the Hungarian completion of the lower dam, and the Hungarians were not working on that. In spring 2,000 a Swedish company was negotiating to buy the dam and pay the debts involved. The Slovaks completed their side of the dam, but the Hungarians have not done so with theirs.*
*[I am grateful to Leslie Dienes, Prof. Em. of the K.U. Geography Dept., for information on the Gabcikovo dam since 1997].
One positive development in Hungarian-Slovak relations is the 2003 agreement on the Hungarian Status Law [see Hungary, below].
The Hungarians held their own "roundtable talks" from mid-June to mid-September 1989, but these did not lead to full agreement as in Poland. The "Alliance of Free Democrats" (SZDSZ) and their allies refused to sign the agreement on peaceful transition of 18 September 1989. They insisted on a nationwide referendum on holding parliamentary elections before popular presidential elections, so as to prevent the election of the popular reform communist Imre Pozsgay as President by the national assembly. They gained their point, for the referendum, held on November 26, yielded a small majority in favor of having parliamentary elections first.* This was after the formation of the first, majority non-communist government in Poland, Sept. 12.
*[see Rudolf L. Tokes, Hungaryís Negotiated Revolution, Cambridge University Press, 1996, app. 7.1, pp.357-360]
The Hungarian Socialist Workersí Party (HSWP) held its 14th and last Congress on October 9, 1989. The majority of the delegates voted to dissolve the old party and replace it with the Hungarian Socialist Party (HSP). The communists formed their own HSWP led, as before by Karoly Grosz., but this proved to be a very weak party which lost out in the elections held in November.
In November 1989, the HSP Central Committee accepted a very liberal program: political pluralism, new, free elections to parliament, ending censorship of the media, endorsing a free market economy, and giving up control of ministries except for Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Defense. (This is, of course, what was agreed at the Roundtable in Poland, except that there the first round of elections restricted contested seats to 35% in the lower house. Furthermore, the two parties formerly allied with the communists abandoned them after the June elections and joined w the Solidarity bloc, resulting in a non-communist majority in the Sejm (pron. Seym = equivalent of the U.S.House of Representatives).
The largest Hungarian party to emerge in the completely free parliamentary elections of spring 1990 was the Magyar Democratic Forum. (MDF) with 24.7% of the vote. The MDF was slightly to the left of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), which won 21.4% of the vote. Pozsgayís Patriotic Peopleís Front won only 1.87% of the vote. The HSP, successor of the communist party, won less than 4%, which was the required threshold for electing deputies.
Prime Minister Jozsef Antallís coalition government (MDF, Small Holders and Social Democrats) set a moderate course for the economy over the next two years, 1989-91, opposing shock therapy and restitution of land to previous owners. However, it cut subsidies to industry and raised prices, including a hike of 65% of fuel, but welfare expenses were increased to prevent unrest. Privatization went ahead, but at a snailís pace.
A new, extreme right wing emerged in the MDF, led by Istvan
Csurka, a poet and Vice-President of the party. Csurka adopted a
nationalist and anti-semitic stance. He even claimed there was "an international
Zionist conspiracy" of Jews, communists and liberals in Hungary - as well as
in the International Monetary Fund (!) He talked about "genetically inferior
strata" of the population, pointing at the Roma (500.000 in Hungary).
Antall made some concessions to the nationalists, notably allowing the reburial of Admiral Horthy in his home town in September 1993, and calling him a Hungarian patriot, but he expelled Csurka from the MDF. Furthermore, neo-Nazis and Communists were banned by law from wearing their emblems in public, and a law was passed guaranteeing minorities the right to use their languages in education.
Antall died of cancer in December 1993. His successor, Peter Boross, could not retain popular support for the MDF, which lost the elections in May 1994. The Magyar Socialist Party (MSZP) won the greatest number of votes, 33% , and formed a government under Gyula Horn. He followed a policy of national reconciliation in Hungary and with her neighbors, notably by abandoning all territorial claims on Slovakia and Romania in return for guarantees of the rights of ethnic Hungarians living there.
In the economic sphere, Horn continued the austerity measures begun by Antall; this meant more unemployment and currency devaluation, which caused some unrest and a crisis in November 1995. Privatization of large companies went forward, accompanied by some scandals, as was the case elsewhere. The Hungarian GDP rose slowly and unemployment stood at 10% (in early 2,000 about 9%). Hungary became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in late March 1996.
The socialist MSZP lost out in the elections of May 1998, even though it still won most of its previous vote. It lost power because the opposition managed to pull itself together. What emerged was a center-right coalition led by Victor Orban of FIDESZ (Union of Young Democrats ). This result was similar to the that of Polish elections in Sept. 1997, which also produced a center-right coalition.* Orban, about 39 years old, and Tony Blair of Britain, were then the two youngest Prime Ministers in Europe.
*[see: Ben Fawkes, The Post-Communist Era, 1999].
Laszlo Rajk, Jr., 1999, former dissident.
New York Times Magazine, November 7, 1999, p.75.
The elections of April 2002 resulted in the victory of the left-wing alliance of the Socialist Party (MSZP) - 178 seats, 46.11% of the vote - and the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) - 20 seats, 5.18% of the vote. However, the alliance won only by a majority of 1% of the vote = a majority of 10 seats in the Legislature. The right-wing party FIDESZ made the greatest gains, winning 48.7% of the vote and 188 seats. This meant a divided country, with the left-wing alliance preponderant in Budapest and Hungary of east of the Danube, while western Hungary was solidly right-wing, and FIDESZ also won supports in some eastern regions of the country. MSZP stands for social welfare and help to the worse off, but it also supports globalisation and foreign investment. * Hungary became a member of the European Union in 2004, along with Poland and the Czech Republic.
*[ George Schopflin, "The Hungarian Elections and Beyond." End Note, R[adio] F[ree]E[europe[, R[adio] L[iberty], April 24, 2003]
** [RFE.RL. June 05, 2001; April 26, 2002]..
In 2003, Hungary gave up its stand for privileged status of ethnic Hungarians from Slovakia and Romania in education and employment benefits in Hungary. It signed agreements with both countries giving ethnic Slovaks and Romanians the same rights if they came to study or work in Hungary.
The main economic problems in 2003 were the soaring budget deficit - about 8% of GDP in Dec. 2003 - due to raising the salaries of teachers, health workers and other state employees, as per the Socialists' election promises. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave "serious warning" about the deficit to the Hungarian government. The situation was made worse by declining foreign investment.
In September 2006, Premier Ferenc Gyurcsany, leader of the Socialists, (elected in Sept. 2004), admitted in a closed party session that the Magyar Socialist Party had been lying about the state of the economy for a year and a half, and that the economy had been kept afloat by loans.There were riots when this was leaked to the public, but they were put down brutally by the police. In Sept. 2008, on the second anniversary of the speech, there were riots again, but no injuries resulted from police again.The budge deficit has been reduced, by cutting down the social services,to below 5%, with a target of 3% in 2008.
D. Note on the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
These three states had been part of the Russian Empire since
the 18th century (Lithuania from the late 18th century partitions
of Poland), but were independent in the interwar period. In August 1939,Hitler
recognized them as being in the Soviet sphere of influence (Secret Protocol
to Nazi-Soviet Pact, August 23 1939). They had to accept Soviet garrisons in late 1939 and were annexed to the USSR in June
1940. The peoples of the three republics "voted" in rigged elections for admsision in the USSR. Tens of thousands of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were deported
to Siberia, where many died. At home, local communists, acting under Soviet supervision.
imposed the Stalinist political, economic and social system. In view of this
treatment, it is not surprizing that most of the the people in each country welcomed the
German army in June-July 1941, and even formed military units, including the SS,
that fought on the German side against the Red Army.
Some Lithuanians and Latvians also participated in killing or rounding up of the Jews, who were placed in ghettos and deported to death camps. Together with Ukrainians, they provided the vast majority of guards in the Nazi ghettoes and death camps for Jews in German-occupied Poland. When the Baltic States were re-annexed to the USSR in 1944-45, more deportations took place and communism was imposed once again.
In 1987, in the context of Soviet President Gorbachev’s "Glasnost" (Open discussion) a mass movement began in all three republics demanding the truth about the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23 1939, and mass demonstrations took place on its 50th anniversary in August 1989. Thus,in late August 1989, tens of thousands in all three republics joined hands to form a human chain to protest the pact. National flags were hoisted and independence anniversaries were celebrated. Communist leaders became national leaders and worked for autonomy, then independence. This was achieved by all three at the time of the failed rightist putsch in Russia in August 1991.
It should be noted that Latvia declared independence unilaterally in May 1990, but Russian troops seized key installations in March 1991 and killed a few Latvians. However, there was an overwhelming vote for independence in a nationwide referendum in May that year and Boris S. Yeltsin, then President of the Russian Republic, recognized Latvia as an independent country in September, at the same time as he recognized Estonia and Lithuania. *
*[See: "Estonia, History," in: http://www.ukans.edu/history/VL. The history given at this site for Latvia and Lithuania does not cover these events, but the piece on Estonia is excellent and also mentions the other two Baltic States. See also: Taagepera, Estonia. Return to Independence, Boulder, CO., 1993, and later edition].
It is true that the sizable Russian minority - about 30% - was a problem at first, but most of these people seem reconciled to staying put, especially in view of the difficult economic situation in Russia after the dissolution of the USSR in late December 1991.
In view of the new Russian policy, however, of giving passports to Russian living abroad (as in S. Ossetia and Abkhazia prior to the war with Georgia in August 2008), the Estonians as well as the Latvians must be worried about the considerable percentages of Russians (who came in after WW II) in their populations. Moscow might use them as Hitler used the Sudeten Germans in 1938 to begin the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.
In June 2002, the Estonian parliament voted to condemn the crimes of the Soviet and German "occupation forces" in Estonia from 1940 to 1990. This meant that the Estonian Soviet Republic was viewed as an occupied state -- a fact denied by Russia which claims the elections of 1940 expressed the people's will to become part of the USSR. (The same claim is made by Moscow regarding Latvia and Lithuania, although all three "elections" were rigged.) The Estonian parliament did not condemn individual communists, but it condemened the NKVD and its successor the KGB for carrying out Soviet terror measures in the country.. It also stressed the fact that both the Nazi and Soviet occupiers repressed or deported over one fifth of the total population of Estonia. Estonians, however, know that it was the Soviet authorities which deported their people to Siberia and caused most of the suffering.
Of the three countries, Estonia has achieved the most striking economic development because it started out as the most prosperous of all Soviet republics, had a clearly defined reformist elite and managed to secure significant economic help from Finland, especially in reducing its fuel dependence on Moscow. It also carried out economic shock therapy. By 1993, it had reduced its exports to Russia to 17% and its GDP began to grow by 4% p.a. By 2006, it was the most prosperous of the post-Communist states.
Latvia and Lithuania faced more economic difficulties because their industry, developed by Russians, was tightly integrated with the former USSR, especially Russia. Therefore, disconnecting industrial production from Moscow caused much suffering.
It is estimated that 17% of the Latvian population was deported to the USSR in 1949-52. Furthermore, due to the massive Russian influx into Latvia after World War II, Latvians now make up only about 57% of the population. As in Estonia, the Russians formed an economically privileged strata, with their own schools and community life, which was naturally resented by the natives. These people also remembered the brutal Soviet occupation of 1940-41, and the equally brutal period following the re-annexation of the country to the USSR at the end of World War II.
is not surprising, therefore, that independent Latvia wished to reduce
the political role of this large minority. Thus, the Latvian naturalization
law of 1994, required five yearsí residence and a knowledge of
Latvian, which proved too difficult for most older Russians; also, Russian officers
were excluded. (Russians resident in Latvia before 1940 acquired automatic citizenship).
The effect of this law - violently attacked in Russia and strongly criticized
in the West - was that 21.2% of the electorate was non-Latvian, amounting to
just over one fifth of the whole. However, in May 2002, the Latvian parliament
passed a law stating the candidates running in elections need not possess the
highest level of proficiency in the Latvian language, and this has been praised
by western officials. It remains to be seen whether, and if so how Russia will use Russians elected to the Latvian parliament for its own ends.
The Latvian economy developed slowly, not only due to the industrial disconnection with Russia, but also to slow privatization which did not begin until 1995. However, the political system is firmly pluralistic and democratic.
Lithuania had also suffered greatly under the Soviet occupation in 1940-41. Small partisan units in the forests resisted the Soviet occupation for a few years after World War II. It was and is a predominantly Catholic country, where an underground religious opposition and "Samizdat" (self-publishing = underground books and press) emerged in the 1970s. Lithuanian communist leaders were among the first to jump on the nationalist band wagon in 1989, but were soon replaced - though only for a short time - by much more nationalistic leaders, first among them Vytautas Landsbergis, a leader of the "Lietuvos Persitvarkymo Sajudis" (Lithuanian Reform Movement), Sajudis for short (formed June 1988). He became President in 1991.
The first non-communist governments focused their attention on repressing the Russian and Polish minorities - each representing about 9% of the population - mainly because they had opposed Lithuanian independence for fear of later discrimination against them
The economy was in shambles, due not only to the disconnection from Russia, but also to very slow privatization and the decline of agricultural production resulting from the speedy dissolution of state and collective farms, even the well managed ones, without measures to help new private farmers. Economic suffering led to the election victory in November 1992 of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party headed by the ex-communist leader Algirdas Brazauskas, who became President. He implemented a more conciliatory policy toward Russia and continued the privatization of the economy, so that the GDP began to rise from 1994 onward. A right-center government was elected in 1996, but Lithuania lagged behind its Baltic neighbors in economic development.*
In the next presidential elections, Brazauskas - who supported good relations with Russia - lost to the young Rolandas Paksas, who struck a more independent note. He came out in favor of Lithuania joining both NATO and EU. It is not surprising that he did not find favor in Moscow. It was found, however, that Paksas that was in cahoots with the Russian Mafia , which ended his career..
All three Baltic States are now members of the European Union and NATO -- a fact much resented by Moscow. \
Bibliography on Lithuania
Alfred Erich Senn, Lithuania Awakening, Berkeley, CA., 1990 [traces national movement in Lithuania from August 1988 to late 1989. A.E. Senn has also recently published a book on developments in Lithuania in 1989-90].
Same, Gorbachevís Failure in Lithuania, New York, 1995.
Bibliography on the Baltic States.
Walter R. Iwaskiw, ed., Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: country studies, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress/ Washington, D.C., Division of the Army, 1996. (See also individual country studies in later years).
Romuald J. Misiunas, Rein Taagepara, The Baltic States. Years of Dependence, 1940-1990, revised and expanded ed. [of R.J. Misiunas earlier work by Taagepara], Berkeley, CA, 1993..
Graham Smith, ed., The Baltic States: the national self-determination of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, New York, 1994,
Joseph I. Vizulis, The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939: the Baltic Case, New York, 1990.
See also articles in: Nationalities Papers; Problems of Post-Communis;, East European Quarterly,and journals devoted to Baltic countries (see Hist. 557, Bibliography, part I., periodicals)..
20B. The Balkans since 1989.
The disintegration of Yugoslavia overshadows developments in other Balkan states because of the wars which accompanied it. Yugoslavia will, therefore, be discussed first in this section, and the other states after it.
A.The Clash of Serbian, Croat and Bosnian Nationalisms in
Lord David Owen, co-author of two proposed solutions for Bosnia in 1993, wrote:
"Nothing is simple in the Balkans. History pervades everything and the complexities confound even the most careful study. Never in my over thirty years of public life have I had to operate in such a climate of dishonour, propaganda and dissembling." *
A historian can make the following comments on this statement: (1) Nothing is simple anywhere; (2) History shapes the present in every country, even when people donít pay much attention to it, as is the case in the United States; (3) The art of the successful, political lie was always admired in the Balkans.
This said, Lord Owen, Cyrus Vance and Thorvald Stoltenberg (Owen-Stoltenberg plan), deserve admiration for their efforts find a solution for Bosnia, even though they ended in failure. (see below). The U.S. government rejected their plans it would not intervene militarily at this time, while the European states did not want to get involved in such intervention without the U.S.
Finally, after fighting had gone on in Bosnia for three years, Asst. Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke for the U.S., Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs, and Bosnian President AIija Izetbegovich on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims, stitched together the Dayton [Ohio] Agreements signed on Nov. 21,1995 and ratified in Paris on Dec. 14, 1995. U.S. armed forces arrived in 1996, but with a stated deadline of staying only one year. The patchwork agreement failed to produce amicable cooperation between the three nationalities. Refugees were generally too afraid to return to areas where they would be minorities, the economy did not recovere, and NATO troops stayed. (For the contents of the Dayton agreement, see the end of this text).
The Bosnian problem seemed as intractable as other national/racial conflicts, e.g. the Palestinian Arabs versus the Israelis; the fighters for Basque independence versus Spain; the Hindus versus Muslims over Kashmir, and the Turks versus the Greeks on Cyprus (although things have quieted down there). In all these cases, the struggle is over control of territory, with the manipulation of national-religious ideologies and history to justify the claims of both sides in these conflicts. Only the Irish managed to end the fight between the IRA and the Irish Protestants of N. Ireland, and that after long negotiations in which the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, played a key part.
A review of the history of the peoples of former Yugoslavia and their national programs is needed to understand how intractable these conflicts have been in this part of the world.
1. Brief Review of the History of the South Slav Peoples and Lands, including Bosnia.*
*[For more details in Balkan history to 1980, see Lecture Notes 9, 10, 14, 16-18]
The Serbs and Croats migrated to their present lands in the 6th and 7th centuries a.d. (c.e) from the "cradle of the Slavs," which is generally thought to have been located between the Elbe river in the West and the Bug or Dnieper rivers in the East..
The Slovenes and Croats - the latter also in Bosnia
-were converted from Rome in the 9-11th centuries a.d. (c.e) and so adopted
the Latin alphabet. They belonged to the Roman Catholic Church (after
the split into the eastern and western churches in 1054) . There was, it is
true, a Bosnian church [Bogumils] for a while, but it did not differ much from
the R.C. church, and was gradually absorbed into it.
Bosnia was a medieval kingdom. In 1391, it included the present territory as well as part of Dalmatia. In 1448, a part of Bosnia called Hum separated from the rest under Herzeg (from Herzog, German for Duke) Stefan, and was later known as Hercegovina, or Herzegovina. After the Ottoman conquest, about 44% of the Serb and Croat population in Bosnia converted to Islam in the 15-18th centuries. They became a privileged class of landlords and merchants, while the Christian Serbs and Croats worked the land as serfs. They hated their Moslem lords.
Croatia was a kingdom from 924 to 1105 when it was joined to Hungary. It covered most of the area it has today, including Dalmatia and part of Bosnia. After the conquest of most Hungary by the Ottoman Turks in 1526, the northern Croatian lands and Dalmatia were ruled by Venice, briefly by Napoleon, and then by Austria, that is, they became part of the Habsburg Empire (Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918).
The Serbs who -- along with the Bulgarians, Romanians, Albanians and the Russians - were converted to Christianity from Constantinople and adopted the cyrillic alphabet. They belonged to the Orthodox Church but had their own Slavic liturgy. Serbia was a medieval kingdom which attained its largest size under Stefan Dushan in the 14th century. (1308-55). His kingdom included Serbia as well as parts of today's Bulgaria and Macedonia.
In the course of the late 14th - 15th centuries, the Serbs of Serbia as well as the Serbs and Croats of Bosnia came under Ottoman rule. On June 28, 1389, the Ottoman Turks defeated the Serbs at Kosovo Polje.(Kosovo Field, just west of today's Kosovo capital, Pristina) Heroic accounts of the Serb fight there became the core of Serbian mythology, passed down through the generations in song and poetic recitation and glorified in 19th - 20th century Serbian history textbooks. Indeed, Kosovo-Metohija has many medieval Serbian churches and is viewed by the Serbs as the cradle of their civilization. Therefore, Kosovo, though now populated mostly by Albanians (92% of the population), is sacred to most Serbs.
In 1830, Serbia became an autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire, gaining independence in 1878. It was recognized as such by the Congress of Berlin held in July that year in the aftermath of the Russian victory over the Ottoman Turks. At this Congress, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was given the right to administer Bosnia, although theoretically it remained part of the Ottoman Empire until annexed by the A-H in 1908. The Ottoman government supported the Muslims as a privileged class of landlords and merchants - which was greatly resented by the orthodox Serbs and catholic Croats, especially because they were still serfs tied to the land, even though serfdom had been abolished in the Habsburg Empire in 1848 .
On June 28, 1914, the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the A-H throne, his wife Sophia in Sarajevo by a young Serb fanatic, Gavrilo Princip, led to the outbreak of World War I because the Austro-Hungarian and German governments agreed to use it as a pretext for an A-H attack on Serbia, and rejected negotiation or arbitration. This fact, together with the German attack on Belgium and France triggered World War I.. when Russia, France and Britain fought Germany and Austria-Hungary. (See Lecture Notes 10)
The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, came into being on Dec. 1. 1918, that is, before the opening of the Paris Peace Conference in Jan. 1919.
The land reform which took place between 1919 and 1931 transferred most of the land in Bosnia from the Muslims to the Serbs and Croats, so the Muslims became a mainly urban population.
The continuing dissatisfaction of the Croats with their status in the Serb-dominated Kingdom, and the murder of one of their leaders, Stjepan Radic, led King Alexander I (1888-1934) to establish a royal dictatorship in Jan. 1929. He abolished all the old administrative units, replacing them by new ones, called "banovinas," in an attempt to damp down Serb-Croat hostility. In fact, however, the largest ethnic group, the Serbs, continued to rule the country through the bureaucracy and the army. This created much resentment, especially by the Croats. Alexanderís dictatorship was repressive by contemporary western standards, particularly. toward Communists and Croat patriots; it was much more repressive than for e.g. Pilsudskiís Poland,but far less repressive than Hitlerís Nazi Germany or Stalinís Communist USSR.
After a coup in Belgrade, which overthrew the pro-German government and aligned Yugoslavia with Britain, Hitler attacked Yugoslavia, including a devastating bombing of Belgrade, in early April 1941. The country was occupied by German and Italian forces until 1945. During this time, an expanded Croatia was an "independent" state under German protection. It adopted the chequered red-white coat of arms of early medieval Croatia (used by independent Croatia today) and was headed by the fascist Ante Pavelic. This Croatia became infamous for the "Ustashe" (Croat militia) massacres of Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in both Croatia proper and in Bosnia.
Many of the Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) collaborated with the occupants, and there was even a Bosnian SS division - which never took the field. In the North- Eastern Banja Luka region, the Muslims supported Titoís partisans. Most of the 2 million Yugoslav lives lost World War II were lost in the fighting between Serbs and Croats.
Under Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980),Yugoslavia became a communist country, but after breaking with the USSR in 1948 it turned into an independent communist country, i.e. not part of the Soviet bloc. Tito managed to restrain national enmities, but in trying to balance the nationalities he kept on giving more power to the republics. This actually strengthened Serb, Croat, Slovene, and Bosniak (Muslim) nationalisms.
The Bosnian Muslims were recognized as a national group in 1968. Also, the largely muslim Albanians of Kosovo, who were always the majority, were given autonomy, that is, Kosovo became an autonomous region in Yugoslavia. The government of the autonomous region of Voevodina in the north-east of the country, which had a large Hungarian minority, was also given more power.
After Titoís death, Serbian attempts to control the "League of Yugoslav Communists," (LYC). and through it the whole country, plus the collapse of communism in East Central and S.E. Europe in 1989, led to the emergence of long repressed national hostilities. Serbian political and military leaders set out to unify their people living in Croatia and Bosnia with Serbia, and this led to protracted wars in Croatia and Bosnia.
2. Croat, Serb, and Bosniak Nationalisms.
(i). Croat nationalism.
The father of Croat nationalism was Ante Starcevic (1822-1896) He claimed for the Croats all the territory that would later become Yugoslavia. He considered the Serbs to be Croats gone wrong, and the Bosnian Muslims as Croats who should be converted gently to Catholicism. His concept of the minimal territorial shape of Croatia was more or less the same as early medieval Croatia, but his view that all the peoples of Serbia and Montenegro, also Bosnia, were really Croats, opened large vistas of Croat expansion.
We should recall that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Croats worked for Austrian recognition of "The Triune Kingdom" (Slavonia,Croatia and Dalmatia) as a Crownland, that is, a third member of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which had been created by the Compromise of 1867. However, both the Hungarians and most Austrian statesmen, led by Emperor Francis Joseph (1830-1916, ruled 1848-1916), opposed this because they believed it would weaken the Empire. This view was shared by German statesmen led by Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), who unified Germany by war, creating the German Empire in 1871. He did not want Germanyís A-H ally to be weakened by being divided into three parts instead of two.
After the end of World War I, Croatian politicians feared an attack by Italy, which demanded Dalmatia. Therefore, they agreed to a union with the Serbs in December 1918, assuming they would have self-government. They were bitterly disappointed when Yugoslavia turned out to be a centralized monarchy run by the Serbs. Therefore, Croat-Serb tension undermined Yugoslav unity. In 1928, the Croat statesman, Stjepan Radic (1871-1928), was assassinated on the floor of the National Assembly. As noted above, this led King Alexander to implement a royal dictatorship in 1929 and to abandon old national lines by reorganizing the country into new administrative units (banovinas). Alexander was assassinated in Marseilles, 1934, while on a state visit to France; his host, French Foreign Minister Jean- Louis Barthou (1862-1934), who accompanied him in an open car, bled to death from his wound. The assassination was widely believed to have been organized by Croatian extremists financed by Italy.
In Aug. 1939, the Yugoslav government concluded an agreement with the Croatian politician Vladimir Macek (1879-1964), granting autonomy to an enlarged Croatia, which included part of Bosnia- Hercegovina with the town of Mostar. (In 1992 the Hercegovina Croats were to proclaim a "Herceg Bosnia"). But the advent of World War II precluded a test run of this agreement.
As mentioned earlier, the Croat "ustashe" massacred Serbs during WWII. They massacred them in the Krajina Region of Croatia (where a large number of Serbs had settled in 1690 to escape Ottoman rule, and where the Austrians established a military frontier against the Turks, manned by these Serbs), and also in Bosnia. Tens of thousands died in Croatian concentration camps, especially Jasenovac, called "the Balkan Auschwitz." The memory of these massacres was manipulated by Serbian leaders in the Serb-Croat War of 1991-95. We should, however, bear in mind that Titoís Partisans massacred many Croats in 1945-46, and Croatian images of that horror were manipulated by Croatian politicians in 1991-95. Tito refused to allow the establishment of a Croatian Krajina Republic.
(ii). Serbian nationalism.
The father of Serb nationalism was Ilya Garsanin ( 1812-74), who wrote the "Nacertanje" (pron. Nachertanye) or charter for Serb expansion, in 1848. This assumed that the future Serb state would have the boundaries of the Serbia of Stefan Dushan. Serb nationalists looked on the Muslims as "Turks," and hated them as landlords until the land reform of 1918-31. (See Lec. Notes no. 9).
The Serbs dominated interwar Yugoslavia, but in World War II
tens of thousands died in Croat concentration camps, or were massacred in their
villages in Krajina and Bosnia by the "Ustashe." Indeed, the most objective
estimates of Serb deaths due caused by the Croats puts them at 120,000 in Croatia,
or 14.4% of their population there, and at 209,000 or 16.7% of their population
After Titoís death in 1980, Serbian intellectuals proclaimed their belief that the Serbs were deprived of their patrimony by the strengthening of the non-Serb republics under Tito. They were particularly angered by the Albanian control, at Serb expense, of the administration and educational system in Kosovo - the sacred shrine of Serb nationalism (Battle of Kosovo Polje 1389). An example of this train thought is the 1985 Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences which spoke of the "expulsion" of the Serbian people from Kosovo, likening it to the defeat of 1389 (!). Indeed, the Memorandum spoke of the "physical, political, legal and cultural genocide of the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija" as the worst defeat of the Serb. people since 1941. They also spoke of the threat to the Serbs in Croatia. * It is true that this Memorandum was a draft and not an official documents; however, it reflects the views of Serbian intellectuals as well as Serbian public opinion at the time.
* [excerpts in: Problems of Post-Communism, vol.44, no.4., July-August 1997, p.4].
Slobodan Milosevic (1941- 2006 ),a former Serbian Communist bureaucrat, who became the leader of the Serb Communists in 1987, used these nationalist themes, especially Serb resentment of the Albanian control of Kosovo, to rise to power as President of Yugoslavia in 1990. He abolished the autonomy of Kosovo, put the the Albanians there under Serb rule again, and abolished the autonomous status of Voevodina, which had a large Hungarian minority. He supported the Croatian Serbs in fighting for their Krajina republic in Croatia, and the Bosnian Serbs for control of Bosnia (wars 1992-95 see below), with the overall aim of uniting all these territories in a greater Yugoslavia ruled by Serbs.
We should bear in mind that although the Serbs were the aggressors
in these wars, they saw themselves as fighting to avoid the fate of their fathers
or grandfathers in World War II. It is also clear, however, that this self-image
was manipulated by Milosevic and other Serb leaders to attain their goal
of a united Serbia-Yugoslavia. They used genocide against the Muslim Bosniaks
- called "ethnic cleansing" - plus the rape of Muslim women, as deliberate policies
to achieve the goal of expelling Muslims and joining all of Bosnia to Serbia. The Croats also killed
Muslims, and the latter retaliated against both.
[from: Charles Simic, "Anatomy of a Murderer," The New York Review of Books, Jan. 20,2000, pp.26,28].
(iii). Bosniak, or Bosnian-Muslim nationalism.
It is not clear exactly when the Bosniaks (Muslims of Bosnia)
- who spoke Serb or Croat languages - acquired a modern national identity, because
for most of their 20th century history they kept a low profile. In any case,
they lost their privileged position as landowners in Bosnia with the Yugoslav
land reform, 1919-31. Still, they supported the interwar Yugoslav governments
in return for bribes for their votes at election time, and held some ministerial posts. In fact, every interwar Yugoslav
government. ruled with their support.
As mentioned earlier, in World War II, many Bosniaks collaborated with the occupants. Furthermore, in facing the" Ustashe," many declared themselves to be Croats. (A few thousand Bosnian Serbs "converted" to Catholicism to save their lives)..
Tito divided the country into six republics, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. He did not recognize the Bosniaks as a distinct Yugoslav nationality until 1968. Still, even after 1968, separatism and relations with outside states were not allowed. Thus, in 1981, some Bosniak nationalists were given long sentences, including the muslim leader Aliya Izetbegovic (1925- 2003), who got 14 yrs. In 1984, a Bosnian Serb leader Vojislav Seselj was condemned to prison for spreading hostile propaganda against the constitutional order of Yugoslavia. In 1994, he was one of the most prominent Serb leaders who were killing Muslims in Bosnia. Later, he challenged Milosevic for the Presidency of Yugoslavia.. He is said to have made a great deal of money during the Bosnian war. He sent his "White Lions" (who were vicious mercenaries) into Kosovo, where they massacred Albanian Kosovars.
from: Tim Judah, The Serbs, New Haven and London, 1997.
(iv). The Wars of 1990-95
In April-May 1990, free elections in Slovenia and Croatia, led to Communist defeat. The Fall 1990 elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Macedonia led to the same result.
Milosevic tried to preserve Serbian dominance over the lands of former Yugoslavia To this end, he played Serb nationalism to the hilt, beginning in Kosovo, 1987 - when he made his famous speech to the Serbs there, telling them they would no longer be "beaten" by the Albanian Kosovars. Later, when war broke out with Croatia and Slovenia, he even claimed that the Austrians, Hungarians, Croats and Slovenes were plotting to re-establish the Austro-Hungarian Empire (defunct in Nov. 1918). Also, he claimed the Croats were bent on exterminating the Krajina Serbs in Croatia.
a.The Serb-Croat War over Kraijina.
In May 1991, the Serbs of Krajina, fearing discrimination by the Croats, proclaimed the Krajina Republic. The Serb-Croat war in Croatia broke out in July 1991, after Croatia and Slovenia had proclaimed their independence the previous month. It is true that the government of newly independent Croatia failed to recognize equality of rights for the Serbs of Krajina, but these Serbs had planned earlier to establish their republic by force and proclaimed it in March 1991, before the proclamation of Croatian independence in June of that year, at, at the same time, as Slovenian independence.
Croat and Slovene independence was recognized by West Germany and other western states. The Yugoslav Peopleís Army (YPA) soon abandoned the attempt to conquer Slovenia with its very small Serb minority. but the Krajina Serbs were able to fight as long as they did because of the support of the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA) organized by General Radko Mladic. The Krajina Serbs managed to seize one third of Croatia and their merciless shelling of the Croat town of Vukovar was followed by the killing of most of the survivors. (November 1991). At this time, the first news reports began to come in about Serb "ethnic cleansing" of Croats.
In January 1992, former U.S. Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, negotiated an agreement on behalf of the U.N. between Croatia and YPA for the deployment of a U.N. Protection Force (UNPROFOR). The Serbs held on to their gains - including Eastern Slavonia - until they were driven out of the Krajina region in Aug-Sept.1995 by a successful Croat offensive. This was tolerated by the U.S. as a lever to get the Serbs to sign a peace agreement (Dayton Accords).
[from: Scott Peterson, "Key Balkan Region Edges Toward Peace. Turnover of Eastern Slavonia, on Serb-Croat border, will be closely watched," Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 1996, p.7].
b.The Bosnian War
The Bosniaks - Bosnian Muslims - constituted the largest single group in Bosnia, about 44% of the total population, followed closely by the Serbs, then Croats. In the 1991 census, Bosnian Muslims stood at 1,9 million out of a population of about 4.4 million. (After the war, the population was estimated at about 2,700.000, plus some 2,000,000 displaced as refugees).
In the Bosnian elections of November 1990, the three ethnically based parties won 86% of the 240 seats in the Bosnian Assembly: The Serb Democratic party led by Radovan Karadzic won 72 seats; the Croat Democratic Community won 44, and the Muslim Party for Democratic Action won 85. The three parties agreed to form a coalition government - but the Bosnian Serbs did so most unwillingly.
In March 1991, a secret meeting allegedly took place between the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Croat President. Franjo Tudjman. They are said to have agreed to partition Bosnia, but were unable to carry out this plan.
from: Tim Judah, The Serbs.
On April 26 1991, Serb-dominated municipal districts of Bosnia, close to Krajina, proclaimed a Bosnian Krajina. In late September. the Yugoslav People's Army established. the Serbian Autonomous Region of Hercegovina. On Dec. 21, 1991 - the Bosnian Sebs proclaimed their own republic in Pale.
The Feb.29.1992 a Referendum on independence -- held at the insistence of the European Community -- was boycotted by the Serbs, while the Muslims and Croats of Bosnia voted for independence. The Bosnian Republic was recognized. by Western states and admitted to the U.N. in May 1992.
In April - May 1992, Bosnian Serb military formations, supported by the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA), attacked Muslims and Croats in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and the Bosnian War began. Radovan Karadzic (a psychiatrist), co-founded the Serbian Democratic Party in Bosnia, and was the first president of the Serbian Reublic in Bosnia. He organized Bosnian Serb propaganda that pictured the Bosnian Muslims as bloodthirsty "Turks" bent on killing off the Serbs.
The Serb siege of Sarajevo lasted 2 years, 1992-94, then picked up again. While Western nations dithered, Serb artillery in the mountains around the city bombarded it mercilessly, while Serb sharpshooters in the hills and within the city, picked off people trying to get food and water.
from: Bogdan Bogdanovic, "Murder of a City," The New York Review of Books, May 27, 1997, p. 20.
Western governments shrank from sending in troops, fearing unpopularity due to returning body bags. This was esp. true of the United States, where memories of the Vietnam War were very strong. Finally, small numbers of troops belonging to NATO nations, also Russia, were sent in as an international force: the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) to protect the civilian population, mostly Muslims, but they were few and often unable to help. The best example of their inability to protect Bosniaks against Serb ferocity was the infamous massacre of thousands of Muslims at Srebrenica, July 1993, for which General Radko Mladic is held responsible, along with Radovan Karadzic. A small force of Dutch troops stood by rather than risk being slaughtered by the Serbs. It should be noted, however, that while the Dutch suspected evil, all they actually saw was Bosniak men being led away, while women and children were put on buses and driven out of town. The massacre was discovered in 1995, and more mass graves were discovered in 2003.
from: Tim Judah, The Serbs.
The Serbs captured 70% of Bosnian territory. They drove out the Muslims from the localities they conquered, then immediately brought in and settled their own people in the empty villages and towns. At the same time, they carried out a calculated policy of murdering their male prisoners and raping Muslim women - to shame the latter and thus prevent them from returning to their homes later. The Bosniaks retaliated by driving out Serbs from their (Bosniak) majority areas, while the Croats drove out the Bosniaks from theirs. By the end of the war, there were over two million refugees, mostly Bosniaks, but also Serbs and Croats.
from: Warren Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, New York, 1996.
Two major proposals were put forward in 1993 to resolve the nationalities problem in B-H. (1) The (Cyrus) Vance - (David) Owen Plan of Jan.1993, proposed to divide the state into Muslim, Serbian, and Croat Cantons (Swiss model), with a joint area around Sarajevo. However, there was much opposition to this, including the U.S., since the plan gave the largest areas to the Serbs and Croats. (2) The Owen-Stoltenberg Plan (Aug.1993), proposed a partition of B-H, this time more clearly on national lines, again giving the largest area to the Serbs, a little less to the Croats, and the least land to the Muslims. This plan was also rejected on the grounds that it would reward Serb aggression.
from: Bosnia in the Wars of Yugoslav Succession
Meanwhile, the Serb shelling of Sarajevo continued, as did sniper fire against the population. The infamous "market" slaughter of February 5, 1994 (people gunned down while doing their shopping at a street bazar), shown on U.S. TV., did much to turn W.European and especially U.S. opinion against the Serbs. (The film "Welcome to Sarajevo," gives a good idea of life in the beleagured city, and includes this massacre). Also - as the U.S. presidential election campaign warmed up in 1995. Republican presidential candidate Robert Doleís attacks on President Bill Clintonís lack of foreign policy moved the U.S. government to act. After an ultimatum to the Serbs in Feb. 1994, they withdrew their line some 20 km, but when the threat of a NATO strike receded, they began to shell the city once again. There were U.S. air strikes at Serb positions and President Clinton decided to push the warring sides toward peace. It was in U.S. interest to stop the war lest it draw in other Balkan states (Greece supported the Serbs while Turkey supported the Bosniaks) and perhaps Russia as well (Moscow supported the Serbs).
In November 1995, Asst. Secr. of State Richard Holbrooke, S .Milosevich and I. Izetbegovic negotiated the patchwork Dayton Ohio Agreements, ratified in Paris, Dec. 1995, which mandated the following:.
1. Bosnia was to be a single state divided in two parts: a Muslim-Croat Federation covering 51% of the area, and a Bosnian-Serb Republic with 49% of the area. (The Serbs then held about 70% of Bosnia).
2. Each entity was to have its own President and Legislature. The Central Govt. was to have a collective Presidency. The Central Parliament membership would be 2/3 Muslim and Croat and 1/3 Serb. There were to be democratic, internationally-monitored elections.
3. The Central Govt. in Sarajevo was to be responsible for foreign and economic policy, citizenship, immigration, and some other issues.
4. Radovan Karadzic, Radko Mladic, and others indicted for genocide, were to be barred from holding office.
5. Refugees would be allowed to return home with free movement guaranteed.
6. The peace accord would be implemented by a NATO force of 60,000 including 20,000 Americans. The latter were to stay only for 1 year, but reduced US. forces were still there in late 2003.
["Containment Could be the Key to Peace," Washington Post National Weekly Review, Dec. 1999, no. (?) p.7.
These peace accords did not work very well. Elections were, indeed, held in Sept.1996 and 1999 for a three man Presidency and for a National Assembly. However, the Croats refused to cooperate with the Bosniaks, while the Bosnian Serbs often made things as difficult as they could.(Radovan Karadzic was caught in Belgrade, in May 2008. He had been working, heavily disguised, as a specialist in alternative medicine and psychology.. He was indicted of war crimes by theCriminal Tribunal of the former Yugoslavia, was transferred to the Hague, and is now awaiting trial by the International Justice Tribunal there. Mladic is still at large. Milosevic himself and some minor war criminals were arrested and taken to the Hague to stand trial by the International Justice Tribunal. Milosevic died there in 2006 before his trial ended.)
The future of Bosnia-Hercegovina is uncrtain. If U.S. troops leave, other NATO forces will leave too and the Serbs may attack the Bosniaks again. The U.S. is building up Bosniak army in anticipation of the U.S. withdrawal, a policy which may restrain the Serbs.
The Bosnian Serbs are unlikely to give up their goal of uniting all of Bosnia under their rule. One thing is clear, U.S. and other NATO troops must stay in Bosnia to keep peace between the three feuding nationalities and win time. Perhaps several decades of peace and prosperity will heal the wounds of war and make national hatreds obsolete, but this seems a remote possibility.
As for privatization in Bosnia, each ethnic group favors its own people and there has been a great deal of corruption. Thus, valuable property has been sold to members of each group at laughably low prices, to be resold by them at very high prices. Western economic experts and overseers have not been unduly worried by this process, seeing any kind of privatization as an improvement. However, the new "capitalists" have used their wealth to finance their own interests as well criminal activity.* As of May 2002, new U.S. financial aid to all countries was to be conditional on democracy and absence of corruption in government and the economy. Economic development has been impressive in the years that followed.
* [See:Timothy Donais, York University, "Privatization and Peace-Building in Post-Dayton Bosnia," ACE Analysis of Current Events, vol. 13, no. 4, Dec. 2001, pp.7-11. ACE is published at Baylor University for the Association for the Study of Nationalities].
In this age of ethnic- national states, the Canton system
or partition of Bosnia on national lines, as proposed in the Owen -Vance
and Owen-Stoltenberg plans of 1993, seems to be a more realistic solution than
the present arrangement, but it is unlikely that either plan could be achieved
Meanwhile, Mladic, responsible for the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, is still free men, though indicted of war crimes. Milosevic, has died and Radovan Kardzic is on trial at the Hague.
President Vojislav Kostunica, former President, then Premier of Serbia, opposed independence for Kosovo and Montenegro. In Montenegro, the vote for independence was only some 2% against remaining part of Yugoslavia, but a referendum was abandoned under western pressure to avert another possible Balkan war.
c. Serb versus Albanian Kosovars. The NATO War against Yugoslavia and its Outcome, 1998-2000.
As mentioned earlier, Slobodan Milosevic used Serb resentment over Albanian domination in Kosovo to fire Serbian nationalism and rode it to power as President in 1990. In that year, he abolished the Kosovo self-government granted by Tito, which allowed the Albanian Kosovars to take over the administration, police and education of the province in which they formed an overwhelming majority - except for the northern part which is predominantly Serbian; it has coal mines and some industry.
Kosov Population Figures, 1991.
[from: Miranda Vickers, Between and Serb and Albanian. A History of Kosovo, New York, 1998, p. 320].
The Kosovars greatly resented losing their self-government and having to suffer renewed discrimination in all areas of public life inflicted on them by the Serbs. The moderate Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), wanted to improve conditions by peaceful negotiation with Belgrade. However, Milosevic was not interested, nor was opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic , head of the "Serbian Renewal Movement," who viewed Kosovo as the Serb Jerusalem, nor his rival, Zoran Djindjic, head of the "Democratic Party." The LDK held a referendum in 1991, which resulted in a majority vote for independence, although a U.N. protectorate was also acceptable and violence was to be avoided. Then, a shadow Kosovar government came into being, headed by Ibrahim Rugova, who tried to secure autonomy by peaceful means.
When peaceful methods brought no results, a Kosovar paramilitary organization came into existence in 1996: the Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA, Albanian acronym: UCK). The KLA bought arms in Albania and clashes began between them and the Serbian police in 1997. The KLA managed to secure control of 30-40% of Kosovo territory but Serbian forces defeated them in August 1998,although they survived as a political force. Serb police and civilians began to attack and harass the Kosovars and in the fall of 1998 about 300,000 Kosovars fled their homes. 50,000 of them hid in the forests and mountains near their villages. * The others fled into neighboring Macedonia and Albania, while some who lived near the border with Montenegro, fled there.**
*[See Aydin Babuna, "The Albanians of Kosovo and Macedonia:
Ethnic Identity Superceding Religion," Nationalities Papers, vol. 28,
no. 1., pp. 76-78;
** Javier Solana, "NATOís Success in Kosovo," Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999, pp. 115-116. J.Solana, former Secretary-General for NATO, has been the European Unionís High Representative for Foreign Affairs since 1999].
OSCE (Org. for Security and Cooperation in Europe) observers were sent into Kosovo after U.S. Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke had obtained Milosevicís consent, and NATO prepared air operations against Yugoslavia if needed. However, the OSCE observers were harassed by Kosovo Serbs and withdrew.
Next, NATO and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arranged for negotiations between Serbian and KLA representatives at Rambouillet castle, outside Paris, France, in February 1999. Milosevic was asked to pull the Serbian police (really armed paramilitary troops) from Kosovo and, after three years,accept an international conference to decide Kosovoís future by taking into account the will of the people. The KLA delegates, who wanted independence, went home for consultations, then came back and accepted the NATO proposal. (One journalistic account of the meetings at Rambouillet states that M. Albright, who came in unannounced to a KLA delegatesí session, was shooed away by them - because they took her for a cleaning woman! This was likely due to their view that this was the only reason a woman could have come to their meeting). The Serb delegates refused to accept the 3 yr arrangement. Indeed, while the talks proceeded at Rambouillet, a Serb military buildup was in progress in and around Kosovo and the Kosovars continued to flee to surrounding countries. It became known later, that the Serbs began to terrorize and kill Kosovars before NATO operations began against Yugoslavia.
In view of this situation, NATO forces began "Operation Allied Force," that is on March 24, 1999 they began to bomb military objectives in Yugoslavia (Serbia) so as to pressure Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. This was the first time that NATO, a defensive organization, took offensive action against a sovereign state. The air campaign was chosen because something had to be done to stop the Serb terror in Kosovo, but NATO members, especially the U.S., did not want to risk casualties by sending in troops. Also, the air campaign was expected to last just a few days, when Milosevic would give in rather than see his country ruined.
As it turned out, the air campaign lasted 77 days and the Serbs launched a vicious ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosovo named "Operation Horseshoe" - which was so well organized that it was clearly prepared beforehand. It led to the killing of several thousand Kosovars and the flight of some 863,000 - or 46% of the Kosovar population - into the neighboring states of Albania and Macedonia. Western governments and NGOs (non-govt organizations) came in to to put up tents , supply food, clothing, and medical care. What was generally under- reported was that 100,000 Serbs and Montenegrins - 60% of the total population of this ethnic group - also fled from Kosovo. *
*[For the Kosovar and Serb-Montenegrin figures, see: David Binder, "Why the Balkans?" East European Studies Newsletter, n.d. but with: Calendar of Events: May - June 2000, p.6].
Milosevic finally accepted NATO conditions on June 7, 1999, and NATO troops began to enter Kosovo to restore order there and allow refugees to return. They found many mass graves of Kosovars murdered by the Serb forces. Meanwhile, much of Yugoslaviaís economic infrastructure such as bridges, dams, railways, etc. had been destroyed.
An American missile struck the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing several people and provoking strong Chinese protests. It was soon revealed that the CIA was using an outdated map of Belgrade and did not know the Chinese Embassy had moved to a new location, just next door to a building designated by the U.S. as a military objective. Finally, the embassy was hit instead of the next door building by a mistake, due to lack of clarity in an air photo. The Chinese government refused to believe the bombing had been in error. They allowed mass demonstrations in front of the U.S. embassy in Beijing and demanded an apology. This was given, as well as financial compensation to victimsí families, and the uproar gradually died down.
It should be noted that Russia and China both objected strongly to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Indeed, Soviet Prime Minister Evgenii Primakov traveled several times to Belgrade to conduct talks with Milosevic. It seems fairly clear that Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin wanted to demonstrate Russiaís claim to an active role in the Balkans by helping the Serbs. Indeed, some Russian peace-keeping paratroops suddenly left Bosnia, where they participated in the peace keeping action, and arrived at Pristina airport, which they placed under their control. Their aim seems to have been to establish a Russian force capable of occupying a part of Kosovo (they had not been allotted a sector). However, they were unable to secure the overflight of Russian supply planes through Bulgaria and Romania - which refused permission - so the Russian attempt to secure a bridgehead in Kosovo failed. Nonetheless, Yeltsin promoted and decorated the commander of the paratroops who seized the airport.
U.S. policy in the air war and over Kosovo was criticized not only by Russia and China, but also in the U.S., notably by a prominent expert on Russia, Michael Mandelbaum, who claimed in late 1999 that Kosovo was not a national interest of the U.S., called the whole policy a failure, criticized its deleterious effects on US relations with Russia, and targeted Secretary of State Madeline Albright for special denigration. *
*[Michael Mandelbaum, "A Perfect Failure," Foreign Affairs, September-October 1999, pp. 2-8. Mandelbaum, a former opponent of the expansion of NATO and proponent of a U.S. policy friendly to Russia at the expense of East European countries, was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations for 1999-2000. See also the criticism by David Binder in the East European Studies Newsletter for May-June 2000, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C].
Mandelbaum was ably answered by James B. Steinberg, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. He pointed out the U.S. has an important national interest in preventing instability in the Balkans, which might lead to a wider war. Steinberg also rejected Mandelbaumís view that Milosevicís intent to drive out the Kosovars from Kosovo is unproven because documentation to prove this is lacking. Steinberg rightly says that the Serbs had already carried out ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia so whether NATO attacked Yugoslavia or not, there was no need to doubt this was also Milosevicís plan for Kosovo. In fact, Serbs were killing Kosovars in Kosovo before the beginning of NATOís air campaign.*
*[James B. Steinberg, "A Perfect Polemic. Blind to Reality on Kosovo,"Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999, pp. 128-133].
NATO found the task of running Kosovo extremely difficult. Most of the refugees returned, but the former KLA leader Hashim Thaci, who became the head of the Party for the Democratic Prosperity of Kosova, at first had more influence on the Kosovars than the moderate Ibrahim Rugova, head of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK). Indeed, Thaci approved Kosovar revenge killings of Serbs, but in spring 2000 Rugovaís LDK was getting more support than Thaciís party. In the meanwhile, however, many more Serbs fled to northern Kosovo or to Serbia or Montenegro, while the town of Mitrovica is still divided by the river into Serb and Kosovar sections and NATO troops have difficulty in controlling the two nationalities there.
The NATO nations did not set out to grant independence to Kosovo, but to restore order and prepare conditions for a later decision on its status. However, Kosovo declared its independence as the Republic of Kosovo in Feb. 2008. Its independence was recognized by the U.S. and 50 other states, a step strongly protested by Russia and Serbia. Russia cited this as a precedent for its recognition of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia --autonomous regions in Georgia since 1991 -- as independent states, after its defeat of the Georgian army in August 2008.
Bibliography on Kosovo 1998-2000.
. Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge, New York, 2000. This seems to be the best work so far. See Ivo Banacís review essay discussing this and other recent books on the war, in "Sorting out the Balkans," Foreign Affairs, May-June 2000, pp.152-157. (I. Banac, b. Croatia, 1947, has the Bradford Durfee chair of European History at Yale University and is a specialist on the nationality problems of former Yugoslavia.)
Select Bibliography on the Disintegration of Yugoslavia.
Lenard J. Cohen, Broken Bonds. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia, Boulder, CO., Westview Press,1993 (excellent, balanced survey of history from 1830 to 1992).
Robert J. Donia and John V.A. Fine, Jr., Bosnia & Hercegovina.A Tradition Betrayed, New York, Columbia Univ. Press, 1994. ( good survey with maps, sympathetic to Bosniaks)
Misha Glenny, The Fall of Yugoslavia. The Third Balkan War, rev. ed. London, Penguin, 1993, and later editions (excellent, colorful, reporting by a British journalist who knows the region).
Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, SREBRENICA. Record of a War Crime, Penguin Books, London, 1996, New York, 1997. (a study of the massacre of Bosniaks there).
Michael Ignatieff, Blood and Belonging. Journeys into the New Nationalism, New York, 1993, ch.1, Croatia and Serbia. (Ignatieff, a Canadian of Baltic-Russian descent, has written konwledgeably about nationalism in the Balkans and in the Baltic region).
Tim Judah, The Serbs. History, Myth & the Destruction of Yugoslavia, New Haven and London, 1997 (excellent historical-analytical survey by a highly educated, first rate journalist. Judah is a graduate of the London School of Economics and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He was the Balkan correspondent of the Times of London and the Economist, is now a freelance writer living in London. For his most recent book on Kosovo, see below).
Mujeeb R.Khan, "Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Crisis of the Post-Cold War International System,"East European Politics and Societies, (EEPS) vol. 9, no. 3, Fall 1995, pp. 459-498 (a passionate statement of the Bosniak cause).
Peter Mentzel, ed., Nationalities Papers, vol. 28, no. 1, March 2000, (excellent articles by specialists on the historical background of Balkan Muslims in the Ottoman Empire, then in Balkan national states to 1991, also on Muslim minorities in the Balkans since 1991. P. Mentzel, a specialist on the history of the Ottoman Empire, teaches in the Dept. of History, Utah State University, Logan, UT).
Aleksander Pavkovic, ed., "The Disintegration of Yugoslavia: Inevitable or Avoidable?" Nationalities Papers (Special Issue), vol. 25, no. 3, Sept. 1997. (Excellent articles on: The Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia; The Politics of Disintegration; International Reactions to Yugoslaviaís Disintegration. by specialists.. A. Pavkovic, a 1983 Ph.D. Belgrade University, was trained in Literature, Philosophy, and Political Science, and is now at the Center for Slavonic and East European Studies, Macquarie University, NSW, 2109, Australia).
Mark Pinson, ed., The Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Their Historic Development from the Middle Ages to the Dissolution of Yugoslavia, 2nd edition, Harvard Middle Eastern Monographs Cambridge, Mass., 1996 (balanced essays by exeperts on each period covered).
Marcus Tanner, Croatia. A Nation Forged in War, New Haven and London, 1997 (historical and eye-witness account by the Balkan correspondent of the London Independent, 1988-84, later asst. foreign editor of this paper).
Unfinished Peace. Report of the International Commission on the Balkans, with a Foreword by Leon Tindemans, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington,D.C., 1996 ( an excellent, balanced survey of all Balkan countries but with special attention to former Yugoslavia, including of course, Bosnia).
Warren Zimmermann, Origins of a Catastrophe, New York, Times Books, Random House,1996 (By a U.S. diplomat who served in Yug. in the 1960s and was ambassador in 1989-92 - lively, insightful story with sketches of key Serbian and other politicians. The author still believes in the possibility of rebuilding a multi-ethnic Yugoslav state).
D. Politics and the Economy in Croatia and Slovenia since 1991.
The former Communist, then dissident, Franjo Tudjman, was head of the HDZ - The Croat Democratic Union - which won the elections in spring 1990 with 44.5% of the total vote and obtained just over half the seats in the national legislature. Tudjman used this victory to establish a quasi-dictatorship. He did this by exploiting Croat nationalism. Indeed, he restored the old, medieval red and white chequered Croatian coat of arms - also the flag of fascist Croatia in WW II - and hung portraits of Ante Pavelic, the fascits Ustashe leader, in police stations. Tudjmanís use of nationalistic symbols helped provoke the war with the Krajina Serbs, although they, as well as Milosovic, bear a larger share of responsibility for this tragedy.
The long Krajina war between the local Serbs and the Croats, which finally ended in fall 1995, meant that economic modernization and foreign investment were delayed. Meanwhile, Tudjman came to control the police, the judges, and the media, achieving near dictatorial power. He even wore a white uniform similar to Titoís (!) His party won the elections again in October 1995 with 43% of the vote - just as Croatian troops were driving the Serb paramilitaries out of Krajina. However, the HLS - The Croat Socio-Liberal Party - managed to win an overall 27% of the popular vote and even more in the capital, Zagreb. In June 1996, Tudjman was re-elected President with 61% of the vote. (His rival for the post, Vlado Gorovac, was beaten up on election day, apparently by some of Tudjmanís bodyguards). But Tudjman was sick with cancer for some time before dying in 1999. The next elections saw the complete defeat of his party.
In 1914, this country was the most prosperous part of the South Slav lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was also more prosperous than the other parts of interwar, as well as post World War II Yugoslavia. In 1990, just before independence, its exports amounted to 51% of its Gross National Product (GNP). It constituted 8% of the total Yugoslav population - but produced 25% of the countryís exports.
Slovenia was only briefly attacked in July 1991 by the Yugoslav People's Army [Serb], which met with strong resistance and moved out of the country. By 1993, 67% of Slovenian exports went to Western Europe and in 1995, its per capita income was $9,000 - the highest in Eastern Europe. Much foreign investment came in, particularly from Italy and Germany. By 2006, 60% of the economy was privatized.
The country is ethnically homogeneous for 87% of the population is Slovene. It has been ruled by coalition governments since 1992 (Liberal Democrats, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens, ex- Communists, and others) headed by a Liberal Democratic Prime Minister, Janez Drnovsek, who was confirmed in the post for a second time in January 1997. Slovenia is the only success story in former Yugoslavia, but after Tudjsmanís death, Croatia has been making up for lost time.*
*[Most of the information on Croatia and Slovenia has been taken from: Ben Fowkes, The Post-Commnist Era, cited earlier; see also articles in Nationalities Papers, Dec. 1999. See also CIA list of heads of government.]
Bibliography on Croatia, Slovenia.
Leonard J. Cohen, "Embattled democracy: postcommunist Croatia;" Sabrina Petra Ramet, "Democratization in Slovenia - the second stage," both in: Karen Dawisha and Bruce Parrott, eds., Democratization and Authoritarianism in Postcommunist Societies, 2, Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 69-121, 189-225. (This book covers all the Balkan countries, with pride of place allotted to Yugoslavia. S.P. Ramet (b.1949) is a specialist on former Yugoslavia, also the Balkans in general, has published over 40 books. she taughts at the University of Washington, Seattle, then in Norway. WA. Leonard J. Cohen has written books on communist Yugoslavia and its disintegration; he teaches Political Science at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada).
S.P. Ramet, Balkan Babel. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia from the Death of Tito to Ethnic War, Boulder, CO., 1996, ch. 11 (Slovenia and Macedonia).
Marcus Tanner, Croatia. A Nation Forged in War, New Haven and London, 1997 (ch. 14-19 takes the story from 1980 to the end of the Krajina war in 1995).
This ancient country became the heart of a far-flung Empire under Alexander the Great of Macedonia (353-323 b.c). It was later part of Greece, Rome, and the Ottoman Empire. It was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia in 1912; Bulgaria seized more than it had been allotted, and this led to the 2nd Balkan War, 1913, which Bulgaria lost, along with most of the land it had seized. The north western part, with a Serb majority, became part of Yugoslavia in 1919, and again - after seizure by Bulgaria in WW II - in 1945. It then obtained the status of one of the six constituent republics of that state.
Macedonia became an independent state in 1991, and was recognized as such in 1993, although Greece objected to its name, which is the same as that of a part of Greece. The majority of the Macedonian population is Slavic and speaks Macedonian. Bulgarians claim this language is really Bulgarian, but Macedonians deny this. The people are mostly Orthodox, but there is a large Albanian, Muslim, minority in the northern part of the country.
Some U.S. military forces were stationed in Macedonia as a safeguard against the spread of Yugoslav wars to other Balkan countries. Macedonia accepted many refugees from Kosovo, though it did so with some reluctance in view of its already large Albanian minority.
[see: Risto Lazarov, This is the Republic of Macedonia, trans. Filip Korzenski, Skopje, Macedonia, 1993].
In February 2001, units of the Kosovo
Liberation Army took control of part of northern Macedonia, claiming they did
so in support of the rights of the Albanian population there, who claim discrimination.
The Albanian political leaders here demanded a change in the Macedonian
constitution, giving their people the status of equal partnership with the majority,
that is, the Macedonian Slavs. In April 2001, Macedonian armed forces regained
control of the area after some fighting. U.S. and
other western leaders have intervened and political negotiations took place,
but tension continued.
Macedonia is still struggling for the right to keep its name, against Greek claims that the real Macedonia is Greek Macedonia. However, Greece has been investing quite heavily in the country, despite the strife over its name. Also, leaders of the Slavic majority in Macedonia protest Bulgarian claims that the Macedonian language is really an impure version of Bulgarian.
The old kingdom of Montenegro, which existed before the Ottoman
conquest and became independent in 1878, became part of Yugoslavia in 1919 and
again in 1945. It is still officially part of what was called Yugoslavia and
is renamed Serbia today, but is increasingly showing signs of a desire to distance
itself from Belgrade . However, the elections of April 22, 2001, yielded only
a 2% majority in favor of independence, and a referendum was abandoned
due to western pressure. The western powers did not want to risk another Balkan
war, this time between the Serbs and Montenegrins. However, in June 2006, 55% of Montenegrins voted for independence and it was recognized that year as an independent state.
Concluding thoughts on ethnic nationalism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia
As mentioned earlier, there are two competing schools of thought on ethnic-nationalism. On the one hand, some western historians and political scientists condemn it out of hand. They blame President Woodrow Wilson for opening the door to it in Eastern Europe through his insistence on the principle of self-determination at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the peace treaties which ensued. According to these scholars, the violent ethnic nationalisms which caused the disintegration of Yugoslavia can be traced back to the American president and the peace settlements of 1919. *
*[see Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes. A History of the World, 1914-1991, New York, p.31, and his supporters in Thanasis D. Sfikas, Christopher Williams, eds., Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Central Europe and the Balkans, Aldershot, England, 1999, pp.80-81. This view is also shared by Robert Bideleux and Ian Jeffries, A History of Eastern Europe. Crisis and Change, London, New York, 1998, see especially Part V on Interwar E.European nationalism.]
On the other hand, some historians and political scientists believe that ethnic nationalisms, together with its goal of establishing national states, is the continuation of a natural development which took place in western, central and northern Europe in the 19th and early 20th century. Thus, instability and wars are bound to continue as long as this goal is not achieved. From this point of view, the ethnic nationalisms that tore apart Yugoslavia are the natural consequence of an unfinished process, so "The long-term interest of democracy and democracies should guide policy in these instances toward a higher regard for the cause of national self-determination."*
*[see: Philip G. Roeder, "Peoples and States after 1989: The Political Costs of Incomplete National Revolutions," Slavic Review, vol. 58, no. 4, Winter 1999, pp. 854-881, quote on p. 881. Prof. Roeder teaches Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. See also Nationalities Papers, vol. 24,no. 2, June 1996; this volume contains a prefatory note "The Guns of Ethnonationalism" by Harry H. Huttenbach - who seems nostalgic about the old multiethnic states - and valuable articles on Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and western Finnish nationalism, also the German minority in Polish Upper Silesia, and on Germanyís Ukrainian policy in 1918-26]
In any case, it seems that the age of multinational states is finally over. Various ethnic groups could co-exist in the past under foreign rulers in multinational empires, that is, the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, Russian Empires and to a lesser extent, the German empire. However, national consciousness undermined this co-existence throughout the 19th century, especially after 1848, and developed into ethnic nationalism. In the 20th century, two or more former subject nationalities of the former empires sometimes laid claim to the same land, which was often inhabited by a mixed population and conflict ensued. It is not surprising that in such cases one nationality rejected the option of being ruled by another.
Population exchanges between Greece and Turkey after the Greek-Turkish War of the early 1920s and finally the huge population movements at the end of World War II, led to ethnically homogeneous states - although with some small minorities - in most of Eastern Europe, except Yugoslavia. After the wars of 1991-95 in former Yugoslavia and the war in/over Kosovo, it is unlikely that a multinational state or states are still a possibility in former Yugoslavia or anywhere else in Eastern Europe. The Russian Federation is a multi-national state and we may wonder how long the Russians, its largest national group, will be able to dominate the other peoples of the federation.
2. Bulgaria, Romania and Albania since 1989-90.
These three Balkan states have faced enormous economic problems and their development toward democracy has been uneven.
This country was psychologically closest to Russia; it also had a Turkish minority of some 9% of the population. The communist regime had been brutal in exterminating the prewar ruling class, also anyone who criticized the regime. In fact, concentration camps existed until the late 1950s, in which people considered to be dissidents were either worked or beaten to death.*
*[see: Tzvetan Todorov, Voices from the Gulag. Life and Death in Communist Bulgaria, trans. by Robert Zaretsky, Preface by Istvan Deak, University Park, PA., 1999. T. Todorov has published books on totalitarian regimes and concentration camps].
The first post-communist Premier, Petur Mladenov took power on November 10, 1989, immediately after his return from Moscow. He removed the old communist leader Todor Zhivkov who was jailed pending trial. [He was condemned to years in prison and died there]. Immediately after taking power, Mladenov was forced by public demonstrations to rescind the article in the constitution about the leading role of the communist party and to promise free elections. He did so.
The coalition of democratic parties, SDS, pressed for political reform and forced the government into roundtable talks in early January 1990. The government granted all demands except the postponement of free elections, which it hoped to win if held early. The communist party now became the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and won the elections of June 1990. However, the opposition challenged the results and, with great pressure from the students - who camped in the summer in the center of the capital, Sofia - it ultimately prevailed. Zhelyu Zhelev, leader of the SDS, was elected president. Nevertheless, the government remained in the hands of the BSP - made up of ex-communists, headed by Andrei Lukanov, until it finally resigned on November 30, 1990 after months of pressure from the anti-communist organization "Podkrepa" [support] federation, supported by the countryís Trade Unions. A transitional government emerged under a non-party leader, Dimitur Popov in December 1990 (He was succeeded by Filip Dimitrov in November 1991). On April 28, 2,000 President Stoyanov signed a law on the criminality of the Bulgarian communist regimes.
SDS rule, marked by extreme anti-communism, the trial of Zhivkov, and attempts at economic shock therapy, lasted until the elections of October 1992. The economic situation grew worse with the collapse of the USSR and the Comecon (Commuist Common Market,. when inflation and unemployment reached new heights. Meanwhile, privatization measures restored property to those who owned it in 1946, which had the effect of largely excluding the Turkish minority. They did not own land in pre-communist Bulgaria, but had acquired private plots in collective and state farms, which they now lost. As a result, 70,000-160,000 Turkish Bulgarians voted with their feet by crossing into Turkey. Zhelyu Zhelev intervened in September 1992 and began a policy of economic gradualism and national conciliation which was continued by the next Premier, Lyuben Berov. This government was under BSP influence until it lost office in February 1997. * Meanwhile, when the BSP could not improve the economic situation, it published a "White Book" in March 1995, which placed all the blame for Bulgariaís economic woes in the period 1989-94 on the SDS.*
*[see: Stefan Krause, " The White Book: Pointing the Finger," Transition, vol. 1, no. 10, June 1995, pp. 32-40; Transition is published by the Open Media Research Institute, Prague]
It is worth noting that Russian President Boris Yeltsin offered to negotiate Bulgariaís union with Russia on March 29, 1996 - an offer T. Zhivkov had made several times to Khrushchev, but which the latter rejected. Nothing came of it this time either.
The Bulgarian governmentsí reluctance to undertake economic reform and then the Russian offer of union delayed IMF loans to the country until July 1996, when it was granted a credit of $852 million. BSP leader and Premier Zhan Videnov, changed course toward economic reform so that Bulgaria could obtain more foreign help. The anti-communist Petur Stoyanov, elected President on November 3, 1996, continued this policy. The elections of January 1997 brought the SDS back into power and the new government obtained western loans in April- May. *
*[see: Ben Fowkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp. 169-179; see also: Ben Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge, England, 1997, ch. 9, Post-Communist Bulgaria, pp. 216-233; updated edition, 2005.]
The country has made great economic strides, especially after joining the European Union in 2007.Unemployment was reduced from 17% in 1995-98 to about 7% in 2007, but poverty still exists in the countryside. At the same time, there has been a "brain drain" due to educated people leaving for better jobs abroad.
Simeon (born 1937 the son of King Boris of Bulgaria), now known as Simeon Saxecoburggotski [after the House of Sax-Coburg] returned to his homeland and became Prime Minister in July 2001. However, he lost much of his popularity when his government failed to improve the economic situation - though it is hard to see how it could do so without massive western investment. He visited with President Bush in May 2002. He traveled to Moscow in June and signed a series of economic agreements with Russia. Russia is now one of Bulgaria's largest trading partners
A P.S. on Nikolai Ceausescu.
On 12 August 2002, the Scottish Sunday Herald reported after a Romanian paper, Ziua, that Ceausescu had enough Plutonium in May 1989 to build a Romanian "dirty bomb." This was apparently one of the reasons why Washington urged Russian President Gorbachev to intervene militarily in Romania after the revolt against Ceausescu began in December 1989, but Gorbachev refused. In July 2002, when President Iliescu visited Georgia, he thanked President Shevarnadze for rebutting the U.S. suggestion. *
*[[RFE/RFL, Aug. 12, 2002. In September 2003, East European Monographis, Boulder CO/Columbia Univ. New York, published a book titled Ceausescu. From the End to the Beginnings, by Pavel Campeanu. The author shared a cell with Ceausescu and had access to many hitherto unknown documents.]
In the first few years after the fall of Ceausescu, developments in this country were similar to those in Bulgaria. A group of former "reform communists" led by Ion Iliescu, head of the "National Salvation Front" formed in the revolution of Dec. 1989, took power at that time. He was elected President and, held a tight grip on the government for six years. He followed a policy of very slow reform and therefore had the support of industrial and agricultural workers. Indeed, Iliescu had no compunction in bringing hordes of brawny coal miners into Bucharest to beat up the students who camped in the heart of the capital demonstrating for more democracy, especially freedom of the press.
Unlike Bulgaria, Romania had a very small foreign debt because Ceausescu had forced austerity on the people to pay off much of it, but there were many other problems. Iliescuís political alliance with nationalists meant repression of the Hungarian minority and thus tense relations with Hungary. However, in a treaty signed in September 1996, Hungary gave up all claims to Transylvania and Romania agreed to implement a whole series of ethnic rights. Meanwhile, Iliescuís coalition began to break down when the extreme left Socialistsí Workersí Party left the government over its decision to privatize the banks in 1995.
Iliescuís Social Democratic Party of Romania (SDPR), which had delayed economic reforms for six years, was defeated in the elections of 1996 because of economic discontent over inflation and the fall of buying power. This alienated the working class that had supported the SDPR and thus Iliescu. At the same time, the democratic opposition managed to come together and found a new, moderate leader in Victor Ciorbea, a former Trade Union leader, who now headed the Democratic Convention Alliance (Rom. abbr: CDR) - similar to the later AWS coalition which won the elections of September 1997 in Poland. Emil Constantinescu a former communist, former rektor (Chancellor) of the largest Romanian university and now a pro-western reformer, was elected President in November 1996. The CDR also won the elections to the legislature, held at the same time. V.Ciorbea became the Premier of the new government.
This government undertook a series of radical economic reforms; it cut government spending, and pushed forward privatization, beginning with the banks. However, workers' protests against higher food and fuel prices, as well as against privatization, forced the government to slow down Thus, Ciorbea made little headway and resigned in March 1998. His successor, Radu Vasile, tried to follow the same policies as his predecessor, that is, move gradually toward a capitalist economy, but did not make much headway either.*
*[see: Ben Fawkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp.179-182; for more detail, see: Kurt Treptow, ed., A History of Romania, pp.556-592, which bring the story through 1996].
Romania obtained good marks with the U.N. and NATO when it refused Russian requests for the overflight of Russian supply planes to the Russian-held airport in Pristina (Kosovo) in summer 1999. Nevertheless, like Bulgaria, its economy suffered from the U.N. economic sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia. The country needs a great deal of foreign aid and investment. Illiescu was re-elected president in fall 2000, showed more willingness to move to free market and thus obtain western investment. From 2004 onward, the economy developed at a fast pace and the country joined the EU in 2007.
There is an ongoing issue in Romanian politics: the question of reunion with Moldova, most of which is the former Bessarabia ( It was originally in old Romania, then passed under Ottoman rule. It belonged to Russia in 1812-1918 and to Romania in 1918-40, the USSR in 1940-41, and again Romania in 1941-44). It became the Republic of Moldova when the USSR collapsed at the end of 1991.The population is about 65% Romanian-speaking, 13% Ukrainian and 13% Russian, with a few other small minorities. Russian troops are still staioned in Transnistria, or the region east of Dniester river. 17 December 2003,Victor Stepaniuc, the leader of the parliamentary group of Moldovan Communists spoke against the Romanian "minority" monopolizing the spiritual life of the country. In fact, the Moldovan minority is a Romanian-speaking majority. The Romanian Prime Minister, Iliescu, said the Moldovan communist party was resurrecting Stalinist theses on Moldova, and a Moldovan language.* Indeed, this reflects the Russian policy of holding on to Moldova through local Slavic communists. Russia also wants to retain control of Transnistria. In 2005, the former communist leader, President Voronin, turned the country toward the West and began working for its entry into the European Union.
*[RFE/RFL Newsline, Dec. 18, 2003].
Communism collapsed here later than elsewhere.The Communist President Ramiz Alia - who succeeded Enver Hoxha, (d. 1985) - began to implement some very timid reforms in 1990. Thus, the Party of Labor of Albania (PPSH) gave more freedom of decision to state enterprizes and allowed state and collective farm peasants to sell surplus food on the free market. In November 1990, after the first public demonstrations against the government since 1945, Alia promised that the PPSH would give up its monopoly of power. However, student demonstrations for democracy continued in the capital, Tirana, and other cities, and splits appeared in the ruling party. In February 1991, Alia gave in to public demand that opposition parties be free to function and a new, democratic constitution was issued in late December that year. At the end of March and early April 1992 second and third round elections were held in which the communists still won 56.2% of the vote as against 38.% by the Democratic Party established by Professor Gramoz Pashko and Dr. Sali Berisha.
However, the communist victory turned out to be a fraud, due mainly to the peasant vote. (Contemporary press reports said the peasants on the state and collective farms had been frightened by propaganda that they would starve if economic reforms were implemented). Dr. Sali Berisha became President of a non-communist government in April 1992. However, he used authoritarian methods to govern, e.g. he produced corruption and fraud charges against his rivals and enemies. The arrest of a former communist leader, Ramiz Alia, was understandable, but the jailing of Fatos Nano, the leader of the former communist party, now the Socialists, was not, nor was that of Vilson Ahmeti, Premier in 1991-92. Finally, the Law against Genocide and Crimes against Humanity of September 1995, excluded from public office or participating in elections all persons who had held positions of power before March 1991. Berisha secured control of the media but suffered defeat in a national referendum in November 1994, when 53.9% of the electorate voted against his new constitution.
The reasons for Berisha's downfall were economic. Despite the extensive help - mainly food - given the country by Albanian immigrants living abroad, particularly in the U.S , and some impressive economic growth, the country is mired in poverty. Tens of thousands of Albanians tried to escape it by sailing to Italy. The government, for its part, was involved in fraudulent financial deals, especially several "pyramid schemes." People invested their savings in these schemes on the promise of exorbitant profit, but they turned out to be frauds because the directors merely paid off investors with new investments. (The same was the case with the famous MM investment company, Moscow, advertised widely there in 1994). Nine pyramid schemes collapsed in January 1997 and more in February. Rebellions broke out all over the country and Berishaís government troops could not put them down. Berisha released political leaders, began to pay some of the investors, changed the Premier, and promised elections. All these measures, however, failed to pacify the country and he was defeated in the elections of June 29 and July 6 1997. * He became Prime Minister again in 2005.
*[see Ben Fawkes, The Post-Communist Era, pp.182-184; for more detail, see: Miranda Vickers,The Albanians: A Modern History,London, New York, 1995].
Albania remains the poorest country in Eastern Europe, with the highest infant mortality and the lowest life expectancy. Organized crime is still a daily reality, though it is decreasing. What is worse, is that much of the country is still living in the Middle Ages. Most peopleís identity is still defined by their clan, and their lives are ruled by an ancient code of honor based on blood feud. Thus, if a male member of one family is killed by a member of another family, the victimís family must avenge his death by killing a member of the murdererís family, and this leads to more murder. As a very perceptive New York Times reporter put it in December 1999,:
However, in spring 2000, Albania showed signs of recovery and there were even some signs of prosperity, at least in the capital, Tirana. The hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees who found a welcome haven in Albania in 1999, actually helped the countryís economy; hotels and room renting, for Western aid workers and journalists flourished, as did restaurants, shopkeepers and suppliers of all kinds. While most of the refugees went back to Kosovo, official figures show the economy grew by 8% and inflation was running at only 1% per year. These encouraging signs, plus the increasing security brought about by the pro-western - though mostly ex-communist - government has brought foreign investment into the country. Now Albania hopes to get western aid to modernize the port of Durez (Durazzo), build new electricity and rail connections to Kosovo and Macedonia, also improve the existing roads. * Of course, Albania needs a great deal of financial, medical, educational help and, above all, significant amounts of investment capital, so that it can, with time, modernize and improve living conditions for its long-suffering people. Albania is still the poorest country in Europe, but has been making progress, especially since 2000.
*[The Economist, April 29, 2000, p. 51].