It All Began in Warsaw
We in Bulgaria know November 10th (1989), and keep repeating it, though the real date is June 4th.
The date marks the first (semi) democratic elections in Poland as well as the massacre on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Perhaps never before in political history has there been a date of such coincidence – where the struggle for freedom of speech and market economy was resolved in two completely opposite manners.
Both Poland and China went on to succeed in their own ways, and to give an example how a nation can transform when it is aware of what it wants to achieve.
Today all eyes are on Poland, and not just because President Barack Obama and a number of other world leaders are there to mark the 25th anniversary of the elections. It is because unlike the Chinese success which was mostly an example for itself, the Polish one spread throughout Eastern Europe. It reached even Russia to a certain degree.
These 25 years passed in an instant. Looking back, we cannot help but think of the Ceausescu saga, the occupation in Lithuania, for the multiple swings to the left and to the right of the post-Communist bloc… For those on the right, who turned left, and for those on the left who have no idea where they stand. For the different roads that Bulgaria and Hungary took, and the differences between Czech Republic and Romania. For the breakup of Yugoslavia and the ever-diminishing Serbia. For Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Zhelyu Zhelev, Adam Michnik, Leszek Balcerowicz – and the whole group of dreamers who strived to see Eastern Europe as what it is today, peaceful and market-oriented.
Let us not forget it all started in Warsaw, a quarter century ago. Twenty-five years, which today measure like 2 centuries. One for the change of the political system, and another for the transformation of the centralized economy into a market one. This, not only to celebrate, but to reflect upon and assess our progress – each country for itself.