Dictionary of East European History since 1945

By Joseph Held | Go to book overview

ern powers, and help from the Soviet Union obviously depended upon the behavior of the Bulgarians in the post-World War II world.

Dependence on Nazi Germany which was heavy during the war, was now exchanged by dependence on the Soviet Union. In 1944 and 1945, the Soviet Union demanded higher levels of exports than Germany had ever done, and in 1945, almost the entire foreign trade of Bulgaria went to the Soviet Union. Soviet-Bulgarian trade thereafter never sank below 65 percent of the total trade. The great economic crisis that hit Bulgaria at the end of the 1980s was the result of the sudden cessation of Soviet-Bulgarian trade, itself the result of the collapse of the Soviet economy. This was especially serious in energy; since the trade in Soviet oil slowed down to a very low level, electric energy production faced a shut-down. Only Western help in propping up Bulgaria's foreign trade could turn the situation around quickly, but such help has been slow in reaching Bulgaria. At the present tune, the new government is trying to rebuild its foreign trade with the West, but it does not have the hard currency necessary for such a change.


Bibliography

McIntyre Robert J., Bulgaria: Politics, Economics and Society ( London, 1988).

Union of Democratic Forces. Formed on December 7, 1989, the purpose of this political movement was the coordination of the activities of all groups that were opposed to the communist monopoly of power. The number of organizations that joined the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) increased rapidly. By the end of 1989, a resurrected Social Democratic party, the Federation of Independent Student Associations, and many other such groups joined the UDF. In January 1990, the UDF consisted of sixteen organizations under the direction of a coordinating council, whose chairman, Zhelu Zhelev, was a Marxist philosopher at the University of Sofia. Zhelev had been in trouble with the communist authorities many times before, since his unorthodox views did not correspond to those of the dogmatic old guard of the party. Since the early 1960s, Zhelev had been constantly under suspicion for political deviation. Under his leadership, the Union of Democratic Forces began the peaceful dismantling of the communist system.

The UDF also began preparations to change the Bulgarian economy into a market- oriented system. The first step the UDF took was to arrange for a meeting with the communist reformists at a roundtable discussion. By then, the reformists had changed the name of the Communist party to the Socialist party, and they did everything possible to distance themselves from the discredited policies of their predecessors. But the "new" Socialist party was unwilling to cut its umbilical cord to its predecessor's economic institutions. These were typified by the huge party headquarters that continued to fly the red flag with the sickle and the hammer of the old party.

The bureaucracy established during the communist supremacy also remained in place. In addition, the national radio network and the television broadcasting station remained in communist hands. The negotiations between the reform communists

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