Return to Diversity: A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II

By Joseph Rothschild; Nancy M. Wingfield | Go to book overview

8

The Postcommunist Decade

1

In the first decade after the collapse of Communism, the states of East Central Europe pursued with varying degrees of vigor the twin goals of democracy and a market economy. Shedding the Communist past has not proved easy, as the legacy of almost half a century of Communist rule was deeply embedded in political institutions and economic structures. The difficulties of transition were reflected in similar patterns of economic downturn (Warsaw Treaty Organization members saw trade with their chief trading partner, the Soviet Union/Russia, decline sharply in the early 1990s), followed by relative rebound, rising crime, racism, and the resurgence of former Communists and autocratic leadership. The burden of the shift to a market economy fell disproportionately on older and unskilled workers as well as women and children, while some of the ex-Communist nomenklatura became wealthy. Although regional cooperation took the backseat to Western reorientation, the three northern tier countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary created the Visegrád Triangle in February 1991 (the Visegrad Group since the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993) for diplomatic, economic, and political cooperation, but the varying pace of reform rendered regional cooperation difficult. The prospect of membership in the European Union (EU) and NATO encouraged most of the countries of East Central Europe to attempt to overcome traditional ethnic and territorial enmities. The invitations in mid-1997 to begin talks on membership in the EU and NATO underscored the increasing differences between the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, on the one

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Return to Diversity: A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Return to Diversity iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Preface to the Second Edition x
  • Preface to the First Edition xi
  • 1: The Interwar Background 1
  • 2: World War II 23
  • 3: The Communists Come to Power 75
  • 4: The Dialectics of Stalinism and Titoism 125
  • 5: The Revenge of the Repressed:East Central Europereasserts Itself 147
  • 6: A Precarious Stalemate 191
  • 7: The Various Endgames 227
  • 8: The Postcommunist Decade 265
  • Notes 303
  • Suggested Readings 317
  • Index 325
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