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Posted on October 8th, 2012, by

An important and problematic  aspect  of de-communisation concerns the identification of individuals who betrayed  the interests of the nation. Discuss, drawing on the  experiences of at least two Central and East European states

The late 20th century was characterized by the end of the epoch of the Cold War, which, in its turn, was marked by the downfall of communist, totalitarian regimes in countries of Eastern Europe. In fact, the 1980s were very turbulent years when the democratic forces and the people movements in countries of the Soviet bloc grew in power and eventually resulted in revolutions, which, though, were quite different from revolutions in its traditional sense. Instead, they were often accompanied by the reunification of people and peaceful victory of democratic forces over pro-Soviet regimes which had to give in the power. The 1980s were the time of dramatic changes in the history of Eastern Europe and the entire world. In fact, it was the end of the communist era in Eastern Europe which was marked by the end of the Cold War, the ruin of the USSR and downfall of communist regimes in Central and Eastern European countries.

In such a way, the late 1980s were marked by the distinct de-communisation of Eastern and Central Europe. At the same time, the de-communisation was a natural effects of the rule of totalitarian regimes established by communist leaders of Eastern and Central European countries and maintained and supported by the USSR. The downfall of communist regimes was inevitable because of the systematic violation of human rights by ruling regimes and their leaders. As a result, people, who used to be national leaders became criminals, who betrayed national interests. In this respect, it is possible to refer to N. Ceausescu and J.B. Tito as two communist leaders whose rule was marked by numerous violations of human rights, while the end of their regimes were marked by the revolution and civil war respectively, which actually were the main effect of the  violation of human rights by their regimes.

The political situation in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s

The development of political situation in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s was characterized by the growing tension and profound economic and political crisis. In fact, the many specialists analyze in depth the roots of the revolutionary movements in Eastern Europe[1].

In addition, they focus their attention on short-term perspective and analysis of the events in the period of the revolutions[2]. At the same time, specialists attempt to depict the development of anti-communist movement in countries of Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and East Germany revealing the fact that the totalitarian regimes in these countries were totally dependent on the support of the USSR and militarized and security forces and did not have the public support[3]. In stark contrast, people living in Eastern Europe were really disappointed in the regimes established in these countries and the really wanted freedom. The latter means that people wanted to influence the power and, what is more, they wanted to decide on their own what country they actually want to live in, they wanted to define their own future, instead of the oppression from the part of the ruling communist regimes.

On the other hand, the analysis of works of many researchers perfectly reflect the political climate that dominated in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s[4]. As the phantom of communism was haunting Europe in the late19th early 20th century, similarly the phantom of democracy was haunting Eastern Europe in the late 1980s[5]. The communist regimes ruling in Eastern Europe under the military and financial support of the USSR have totally discredited themselves by the 1980s. The military intervention of the USSR in 1956 targeting the repression of the revolutionary movement in Eastern Europe was still fresh in memory of many Europeans while the approaching economic collapse of the communist system forced people to demand democratic changes which could change the socio-economic situation for better[6].

The irresistible desire of freedom may be perfectly felt while reading the book by Ash since the author depicts the mood of people and their dissatisfaction of the ruling regimes. In fact, people were convinced that the communist elite ruling in Eastern Europe distanced from ordinary people and was rather repressing the local population than implementing communist ideals in real life[7]. The extreme bureaucratization of the communist regimes deteriorated the situation even worse widening the gap between the government and ordinary people. As a result, the revolutions that overwhelmed Eastern Europe were the natural consequence of the growing popular protest and the desire of people to take independent decisions concerning their own future, instead of total obedience to the ruling regimes.

The regime of N. Ceausescu

N. Ceausescu was one of the most notorious figures in the history of Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century[8]. His regime led to the outburst of the people’s rage which ended in the revolution and execution of N. Ceausescu, who became a symbol of oppression of human rights and liberties and the people enemy of Romania, who betrayed national interests[9]. In actuality, such an outcome of Ceausescu rule is quite natural since his regime was based on the systematic violation of human rights and liberties[10]. In fact, the fundamental liberties and rights were severely oppressed in Romania under Ceausescu.

To put it more precisely, Ceausescu established a dictatorial regime and people had no opportunities to change it because they could not elect their leader[11]. In fact, the entire political system of Romania was based on the total domination of the Communist Party headed by Ceausescu, while there were no other political force that could challenge the power of the Communist regime and, what is more, the existence of any kind of opposition was severely oppressed while dissidents and political opponents of Ceausescu were either imprisoned or physically eliminated[12].

Moreover, his social and economic policies were also accompanied by numerous violations of human rights. In this respect, his demographic policies were particularly offensive in regard to human rights. In fact, abortion was banned, while childless families were penalized by the progressive of taxation[13]. As a result, being childless meant higher taxes for Romanian families, which apparently violated their fundamental rights and forced Romanian men and women bear children.

In addition, his economic policies were characterized by the neglect of private property rights. The development of national economy was based on the strict state regulation, which eventually resulted in the economic crisis, which was accompanied by the shortage of food. The crisis was the result of the economic policy of Ceausescu who ordered to export agricultural products to get money to maintain his regime[14]. However, this policy resulted to the pauperization of the population and put many families on the edge of starvation.  Hence, Ceausescu policy was a betrayal of national interests of Romanian people, who eventually executed their former leader.

The regime of J.B. Tito

The Balkan region was traditionally the centre of military conflicts and permanent confrontation. In fact, it is in the region where the World War I actually started. In this respect, the creation of Yugoslavia was rather an exceptional event in the history of the region since the new country which incorporated six countries inhabited by different groups Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Slovenia. What was really remarkable about this country is the fact that, in the period from the end of World War II to the end of the Cold War and downfall of the communist regime in Yugoslavia, i.e. for about fifty years the country lived in peace and the reason was not only the dominance of two superpowers in the world but also the strict rule, dictatorship as the matter of fact, of Tito[15]. However, soon after the death of this unchangeable ruler of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the country has simply fallen apart and, what is more important, the country became the area of bloodthirsty wars and genocide[16]. This is why, it is extremely important to research the basic reasons of the fall of Yugoslavia and the following military conflicts in order to better understand their origin that will help find effective solution of current problems in the region. In this respect, it should be said that one of the major reason is ethical conflicts which were sparkled out by the economic crisis in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s early 1990s[17]. Consequently, it is necessary to research the ethnic aspect of the conflicts in Yugoslavia as one of the determinant factors contributing to the escalation of tension in the region.

In order to research the essence of conflict in Yugoslavia and trace the link between the military tension and ethnic background it is necessary to the history of the country. It should be said that the analysis of the history of Yugoslavia, including the history of the 20th century will help better understand the extent to which Yugoslavia was a controversial country[18]. To put it more precisely, the country was extremely diverse in its ethnic grouping because Yugoslavia incorporated countries which had quite a different historical background and culture. As a result, Yugoslavia was ethnically diverse country where cultures which were traditionally opposing to each other were combined. For instance, there were predominantly Christian communities which lived next to Islamic communities in Yugoslavia.

At the same time, the country has managed to unite all peoples but the analysis of the history shows that the role of Tito, the ruler of Yugoslavia after the end of World War II, was particularly significant because it is due to his authoritarian regime he managed to control the country and keep all peoples together[19]. However, after his death and in the result of economic crisis ethnic question became extremely important and it is on the ethnic principle the country was divided between peoples living in Yugoslavia but this process was accompanied by numerous military conflict and even genocide caused by ethnic intolerance and chauvinism.

In such a context, Tito’s regime is quite paradoxical. On the one hand, it united nations within Yugoslavia. On the other hand, this unity and the regime itself were maintained on the basis of permanent repressions and violation of human rights[20]. In spite of the fact that Tito gave certain autonomy to ethnic groups within Yugoslavia, he was the only ruler of the country. He neglected basic human rights and liberties. The total control over the political power in the country limited consistently rights of people to elect legislative and executive bodies of power. The entire regime was based on the repression against political opponents of Tito and after his death Yugoslavia fell apart because different ethnic groups, comprising the state finally got the right and opportunity to openly declare their desire of independence, which was severely oppressed under Tito[21]. Hence, Tito became the national hero for Serbs, but a betrayal of national interests for minorities, which could not get independence under his rule.

Conclusion

Thus, in conclusion, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the communist regime in Central and Eastern Europe proved to be unable to survive because of the violation of human rights and liberties. People could not afford living without rights and liberties and when the economic situation started to deteriorate substantially they rebelled and ruined regimes which oppressed them and prevented from exercising their natural rights and liberties.


[1] Pilon, J.G. The Bloody Flag. Post-Communist Nationalism in Eastern Europe. Spotlight on Romania, Oxford University Press, 2006, p.214

[2] Ibid., p.126

[3] Ibid., p.135

[4] Ibid., p.178

[5] Ibid., p.241

[6] Behr, E. Kiss the Hand you Cannot Bite. London: Routledge, 2005, p.125

[7] Pilon, J.G. The Bloody Flag. Post-Communist Nationalism in Eastern Europe. Spotlight on Romania, Oxford University Press, 2006, p.217

[8] Behr, E. Kiss the Hand you Cannot Bite. London: Routledge, 2005, p.139

[9] Ibid., p,211

[10] Sweeney, J. The Life and Evil Times of Nicolae Ceauşescu. New York: Random House, 2004, p.116

[11] Behr, E. Kiss the Hand you Cannot Bite. London: Routledge, 2005, 140

[12] Ibid., p.156

[13] Sweeney, J. The Life and Evil Times of Nicolae Ceauşescu. New York: Random House, 2004, p.143

[14] Payam, A. and R. Howse. (Eds.). Yugoslavia, the Former and Future. Reflections by Scholars from the Region. Brookings Institution and United Nations Institute for Social Development, 1995, p.176

[15] Ibid., p.211

[16] Ibid., p.193

[17] Payam, A. and R. Howse. (Eds.). Yugoslavia, the Former and Future. Reflections by Scholars from the Region. Brookings Institution and United Nations Institute for Social Development, 1995, p.194

[18] Woodward, S.L. Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War. Brookings Institution, 1995, p.198

[19] Allcock, J. B. Explaining Yugoslavia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, p.218

[20] Payam, A. and R. Howse. (Eds.). Yugoslavia, the Former and Future. Reflections by Scholars from the Region. Brookings Institution and United Nations Institute for Social Development, 1995, p.46

[21] Woodward, S.L. Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War. Brookings Institution, 1995, p.217

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