Changes in Central & Eastern Europe
O'Cain, Sinay, Branham, Wisnosky
Poland and Hungary Reform
The Breakup of Yugoslavia
Democracy Spreads in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia was a conservative government led by Milos Jakes who resisted all change and arrested several dissidents including Vaclac Havel-a popular critic of the government. The people began to protest on October 28, 1989 with about 10,000 people who wanted democracy and freedom. Hundreds were arrested but a few weeks later, 25,000 students were inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall and demanded reform in downtown Prague. On November 25, about 500,000 people protested and within hours, Milos Jakes resigned and a new parliament elected Vaclav Havel the President a month later.
Reformers launched an economic program based on “shock therapy” which caused a sharp rise in unemployment and hurt Slovakia especially. unable to agree on economic policy, Slovakia and the Czech Republic drifted apart. Havel resigned as president because of the people’s support to split the nations. As of January 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries. Havel was then elected president of the Czech Republic but later stepped down in 2003 because of health problems. Vaclav Klaus was elected and the Czech Republic slowly improved in the face of some serious problems. They pushed to become a full member of the European Union by 2004.Slovakia also proceeded on a reformist, pro-Western path. It experienced one of the highest economic growth rates in the region in 2002. It hoped to join both NATO and the EU in the near future.
Overthrow in Romania
By 1989, only Romania seemed unmoved by the calls for reform. Romania’s ruthless and brutal dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu used his secret police to enforce his orders. The Romanian were aware of the reforms in other countries and began a protest movement of their own.
In December, Ceausescu ordered the army to fire on demonstrators in the city of Timisoara which killed hundreds of people. This massacre ignited a popular uprising against their leader. Within days, the army even went against their leader and joined the people. Shocked by the collapse of his power, Ceausescu and his wife attempted to flee but were captured, then tried and executed on Christmas Day, 1989. Romania held general elections for presidency from there on out.Throughout the 1990s , Romania struggled with corruption and crime as it tried to salvage its economy. The government continued to make economic reforms to introduce elements of capitalism. The government also began to reduce the layers of bureaucracy in order to encourage foreign investors. Furthermore, in order to achieve membership in the European Union, the Romanian government began to move away from a state-controlled economy.