On 19 February 1987, Jacques Santer, Head of the Luxembourg Government, opens the ‘Harvard National Model United Nations’ Conference at Harvard University. In his speech, he discusses East-West relations from a European perspective.
On 8 October 1989, during an interview with the radio programme ‘Grand Jury RTL–Le Monde’, Roland Dumas, French Foreign Minister, comments on the opening up of Central European countries to the West and discusses German reunification.
On 25 October 1989, François Mitterrand, President of the French Republic, delivers an address to the European Parliament in which he gives his first impressions on the upheavals taking place in Eastern Europe.
On 20 November 1989, commenting on the gradual collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, the British left-wing daily newspaper The Guardian discusses the geopolitical effects of the end of the Cold War.
On 22 November 1989, the British left-wing daily newspaper The Guardian outlines the efforts made by the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) to shake off the Stalinist model of society and move towards a market economy.
In 1990, in an article in the magazine Europäische Rundschau, Thomas Klestil, Secretary General at the Austrian Foreign Ministry, considers the new situation in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Communist bloc and analyses the consequences of this new order for Austria’s identity.
‘Hungary, Poland, Romania, GDR, Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Bulgaria’. On 4 January 1990, Fritz Behrendt, a Dutch cartoonist originally from Berlin, illustrates one of the geopolitical consequences of the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, namely a ‘return to Europe’ of the main countries in the former Eastern bloc.
On 31 January 1990, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe comments on political developments in Central and Eastern Europe and recommends the Committee of Ministers to promote rapprochement with the European countries which have returned to democracy.
On 5 February 1990, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel describes the scepticism felt by the people of the countries of Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism and the political parties' transition towards Social Democracy.
In March 1990, the Portuguese economic affairs magazine Cadernos de Economia considers the causes and consequences of the difficult transition of the Eastern European countries towards a market economy.
On 25 February 1991, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and for Defence of the seven member countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation (the USSR, Bulgaria, Romania, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia), meeting in Budapest, announce the dissolution of the military arm of the Warsaw Pact.
On 1 July 1991, in Prague, the eight member countries of the Warsaw Pact (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR) decide to dissolve the Warsaw Pact Political Consultative Committee.
On 25 September 1995, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommends the Committee of Ministers to adopt a proactive policy towards refugees and asylum-seekers from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.
In 1996, in an article in the magazine Europäische Rundschau, Heinz Fischer, President of the Austrian National Council, analyses the political changes in the countries of Eastern Europe from Austria’s point of view and emphasises the need for the enlargement of the European Union to include these countries.
‘Whatever you do, don’t look at him!’ The cartoonist Behrendt illustrates the fears of the Soviet authorities that the anti-establishmentarianism triggered in Poland by Lech Walesa and the social movement Solidarnosc (Solidarity) will spread throughout the Eastern bloc.
Adam Michnik, born on 17 October 1946 in Warsaw, was one of the main leaders of the opposition to the totalitarian rule of the Polish United Workers’ Party and was co-founder, with Jacek Kuron, of the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR) in 1976. He took part in the Round Table talks in 1989 before being elected MP in the Polish Sejm the same year.
‘In need of help?’ In 1985, the German cartoonist, Fritz Behrendt, depicts the importance of Lech Walesa’s Solidarnosc trade union in providing support to Polish society against the failures of Marxism and General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s Communist regime.
In 1986, activists belonging to Solidarnosc, the Polish Workers’ Trade Union, demonstrate in favour of the release of political prisoners and organise strikes which defy the regime of General W. Jaruzelski and paralyse the country.
‘Eye test’. In 1988, German cartoonist Lang illustrates the policy of mistrust adopted by Lech Walesa and the Polish workers’ trade union Solidarnosc with regard to the Polish Communist regime led by General Wojciech Jaruzelski.
On the campaign trail for the first semi-democratic elections in Poland since the end of the Second World War, Bronislaw Geremek, Special Adviser to Lech Walesa during the Round Table talks, stands in June 1989 as the candidate for the social movement Solidarnosc.
On 19 September 1989, in Warsaw, the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Polish People’s Republic sign an agreement concerning trade and commercial and economic cooperation, anticipating the establishment of a free-trade area between the EEC and Poland.
On 28 October 1989, the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung speculates on Poland’s gradual transition to a democratic regime and analyses the repercussions of this transformation on the neighbouring countries.
Le 2 février 1990, le quotidien belge La Libre Belgique revient sur les promesses d'aides accordées par la Communauté économique européenne (CEE) à la Pologne à l'issue de la première visite officielle en Belgique du Premier ministre polonais, Tadeusz Mazowiecki.
On 26 June 1990, during the Presidential campaign for the successor to General Jaruzelski in Poland, the French Communist daily newspaper L’Humanité comments on the growing disagreement between Lech Walesa, First Secretary of Solidarnosc, and his former supporters.
On 10 December 1990, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro considers the victory of Lech Walesa, founder of the Polish trade union Solidarnosc, in the first presidential elections held in post-Communist Poland.
On 26 April 1990, in Warsaw, in response to the geopolitical upheavals taking place in Central and Eastern Europe, Krzysztof Skubiszewski, Polish Foreign Minister, outlines the main thrust of his country’s foreign policy.
On 22 April 1992, the French daily newspaper L’Humanité publishes a retrospective devoted to the political action taken by General Wojciech Jaruzelski, Polish Prime Minister from 1981 to 1985 and Polish Head of State from 1989 to 1990. The newspaper particularly praises his management of the 1981 crisis, in which Soviet intervention was avoided, and his role in the peaceful transition to a democratic regime.
On 13 August 1986, military troops parade in front of the VIP stand on the 25th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall. The photo shows a number of prominent East German leaders: Hermann Axen, Günter Schabowski, Heinz Keßler, Egon Krenz, Willi Stoph, Erich Honecker and Margot Honecker.
‘Happy Birthday.’ In August 1986, the German cartoonist, Horst Haitzinger, takes an ironic look at the 25 years of the Berlin Wall and criticises the crimes of the East German Communist regime led by Erich Honecker.
On 13 October 1987, in an interview given to the daily newspaper La Libre Belgique, Erich Honecker, Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), discusses the role of the GDR in the international arena and his Government's position on the introduction of democratic reforms.
‘Temptation — Governess Honecker: ‘Don’t look! That’s a porn shop …’ In 1988, in response to Gorbachev’s reforms in the Soviet Union (USSR, or ‘UDSSR’ in German), the cartoonist Ernst Maria Lang portrays the refusal of the East German leadership to reform the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
‘GDR’. On 10 July 1989, Fritz Behrendt, a Dutch cartoonist originally from Berlin, paints an ironic picture of the reaction of Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), to the proliferation of protest movements sweeping across several countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Behrendt particularly emphasises the East German authorities’ refusal to change and to introduce democratic reforms. In the centre of the cartoon, Erich Honecker is sat in his military bunker surrounded by barbed wire, symbolising the GDR, with his hands over his ears so that he cannot hear the calls for freedom and democracy.
On 15 August 1989, in an article for the French daily newspaper Le Monde, Henri de Bresson analyses the economic situation in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and emphasises the East German authorities’ refusal to change and to consider democratic reforms.
On 8 October 1989, the day after the 40th anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the Politburo of the Central Committee of Germany's Socialist Unity Party (SED) reaffirms its desire to continue to steer the country along the path of Socialism and condemns the Federal Republic of Germany for interfering in the GDR's domestic affairs.
‘Bar the door!’ In 1989, the German cartoonist, Fritz Behrendt, portrays the Communist leaders of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) seeking to oppose, as far as possible, the measures to democratise the country along the lines of the Soviet ‘perestroika’ model.
On 13 December 1989, Richard von Weizsäcker, West German Foreign Minister, discusses on East German television the question of the reunification of Germany and gives his opinion on the implementation of democratic reforms in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
On 23 October 1989, Matyas Szürös, President of the Hungarian Republic, announces the decision to abandon all references to the People’s Republic and instead to refer to the Republic of Hungary, i.e. to a democratic state governed by the rule of law.
On 25 October 1989, the French daily newspaper Le Monde describes the joy of the Hungarian people following the proclamation, two days earlier, of the new Republic and recalls the crushing of the uprising in Budapest by Soviet tanks during the winter of 1956.
‘After 45 years: finally free!’ Liberation from Nazism, Soviet occupation, national independence. In 1990, the German cartoonist Behrendt depicts the political developments in Hungary over the past 45 years.
On 16 January 1990, in an interview granted to the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir, László Kovács, Hungarian Junior Foreign Minister, discusses the emergence of a new political reality in Eastern Europe and the future of the Hungarian minority in Romania.
József Antall, who was born on 8 April 1932 and died on 12 December 1993 in Budapest, became an opponent of the Hungarian Communist at the time of the 1956 uprising. He was leader of the Hungarian Democratic Forum from 1989 to 1993. On 23 May 1990, Antall became the first democratically-elected Hungarian Head of Government since the end of the Second World War.
On 11 November 1989, the Civic Forum, an association comprising Czechoslovak opposition and democratic initiative movements, holds a political press conference in at the Laterna Magica Theatre in Prague. From left to right: Rita Klimova, Alexander Dubcek, Václav Havel and Jirí Hájek.
On 24 November 1989, the day after the collective resignation of the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro speculates on the possible return to the national political stage of Alexander Dubcek, leader of the ‘Prague Spring’ in 1968.
On 14 December 1989, in a telephone interview for the weekly publication Les Nouvelles de Moscou, Alexander Dubcek, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia during the ‘Prague Spring’ of 1968, talks about the political future of Czechoslovakia.
On 25 November 1989, more than half a million people attend a rally organised by the Civic Forum on Prague's Letna Plain in the presence of Alexander Dubcek and Vaclav Havel to celebrate the regained freedom in Czechoslavkia.
On 25 January 1990, during his first official visit to Poland, Václav Havel, acting President of the Czech Republic, delivers an address from the rostrum of the Polish Parliament in which he emphasises the efforts being made by the two countries to embrace democracy and speculates on the political future of Central Europe.
On 24 November 1989, a few weeks before the popular uprising, Nicolae Ceausescu is unanimously re-elected to the post of Secretary-General at the end of the 14th Congress of the Romanian Communist Party.
On 22 December 1989, the French daily newspaper Le Monde describes the ineffectiveness of the state of emergency, decreed the previous day by President Nicolae Ceausescu, in containing the spread of the revolutionary movement in Romania.
On 24 December 1989, in an article for the French daily newspaper Le Figaro, Alain Peyrefitte, former French Minister, considers the causes and consequences of the popular insurrection and the overthrow of the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania.
In 1989, the German cartoonist, Fritz Behrendt, portrays the fall of the dictatorial Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania in the wake of the collapse of Marxism and Stalinism in the Soviet Union and in the whole of the Eastern bloc.
Todor Khristov Zhivkov, who was born on 7 September 1911 in Pravets and died on 5 August 1998 in Sofia, became leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party in 1954 before taking up the post of Head of State from 7 May 1971 to 10 November 1989. Under his leadership, Bulgaria was a satellite country that was perfectly in line with its Soviet big brother.
On 25 December 1987, the French daily newspaper Le Monde speculates on the enthusiasm of the Bulgarian Communist leaders to apply the principles of Perestroika to the economic sector while categorically refusing to extend the reforms to the political field.
On 18 January 1989, in an interview with the French daily newspaper Le Monde, and on the eve of the visit of the French President François Mitterrand to Sofia, Todor Zhivkov, Secretary-General of the Communist Party and Bulgarian Head of State, takes a clear position against the adoption of a multi-party system in his country.
Todor Khristov Zhivkov was stripped of his functions as leader of the Communist Party and of the Bulgarian State on 10 November 1989. In one of his last public appearances, the powerful leader of Bulgaria for over 35 years vainly resists the appointment of his successor, Petur Mladenov.
On 4 December 1989, one month after the collapse of Todor Zhivkov’s regime in Bulgaria, Petko Simeonov, a political opponent of Communist totalitarianism and co-founder of the action group ‘Union of Democratic Forces’, grants an interview to the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel in which he gives his views on the political and economic prospects of a Bulgaria now led by Petar Mladenov.
On 16 January 1990, commenting on the Bulgarian Parliament’s abolition of the leading role of the Communist Party in society and the State, the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir speculates on the preservation of the socialist nature of the Bulgarian State in the constitution and on its potential consequences for the country’s future.
On 16 October 1991, following the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, the Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung speculates on the ability of the Union of Democratic Forces, now the majority party, to form a coalition government.