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This volume presents a collection of diplomatic documents describing Britain’s relations with Communist Europe from 1979 to 1982, with special focus on the crisis in Poland.
After coming to power in 1979, the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher was determined to follow a policy of ‘differentiation’ between the Soviet Union and the rest of Communist Europe, and between individual countries; and also to encourage states to exercise a limited amount of independence. They saw promising signs in Poland’s pluralism, Hungary’s new economic experiment and Romania’s independent foreign policy. This policy was soon engaged when in 1980 the Solidarity trade union challenged the power of the Party state in Poland. Political demands, social unrest and economic crisis culminated in martial law in December 1981, finally lifted in December 1982. The documents in this volume chart the formulation of British policy towards Communist Europe during these turbulent years, in particular the UK response, in consultation with Western partners, to the unfolding crisis in Poland and the threat of Soviet intervention. The volume also covers bilateral relations with Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia. Key themes include the defence of human rights; the impact of dissidents and religion; the effect of the Polish debt crises; and the future of Yugoslavia following Marshal Tito’s death.
This volume will be of great interest to students of British Politics, Eastern European Politics, Cold War History, Diplomacy Studies and International Relations in general.