Primary Sources

The Future of Eastern Europe


By the spring of 1990, the future of the individual countries in Eastern Europe was still open for debate. While Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary seemed to be transitioning toward Western-styled democracies, Romania and Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania were following a different course. The former had experienced violent uprisings, and in the latter the Communists seemed to be more successful in holding onto their power. In this intelligence briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency, attempted to predict the possible futures for East European countries. Mirroring the current political realities, the future appeared mixed, with new authoritarian regimes as likely as new liberal democracies.


Central Intelligence Agency, "The Future of Eastern Europe," April 1990, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

Communist party rule in Eastern Europe is finished, and it will not be revived. This and the lifting of Soviet hegemony create new opportunities for establishing representative democracies and self-sustaining market economies. The way will also open for new modes of regional political and economic cooperation. The greatest impetus is the resolve of East Europeans and their leaders to achieve reforms by emulating Western economic and political models.

The evolution of the region will make the designation "Eastern Europe" increasingly imprecise, as East-Central European countries--Poland, Czechoslovakia. Hungary, and East Germany—move ahead in closer association with the West, and the Balkans--Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania—settle into a more separate role. Yugoslavia, if it holds together, will continue close ties to the West.

In some East European countries, however, we will see political instability and perhaps even a revival of authoritarianism, amidst lingering economic backwardness and reemerging ethnic animosities. Despite Western aid and investment, the East European economies—excluding that of East Germany—are likely to make only uneven progress during the five-year time span of this Estimate.

Ultimately, prospects for healthy democracy will be closely tied to the way in which East Europeans resolve their systemic economic crisis. Western aid will be essential, especially in the early stages, to make up the "capital deficit" required to cushion any transition to market economies&hellip

How to Cite this Source

Central Intelligence Agency, "The Future of Eastern Europe," Making the History of 1989, Item #192, (accessed October 28 2021, 10:24 am).

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