Social Transition and War in Post-Communist Society

  • Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 10)


As some authors have already noted, living in transition is nothing new for former communist countries (Drezov, 2000:195; Bolcic, 1995:13). Countries which are presently faced with “post-socialist” transition1 are a special group of countries of the modern era because their global societies have undergone two “transitions” during a period of some (five to seven) decades: first a transition from capitalism “to socialism” and now a transition “from socialism” to capitalism.


Foreign Direct Investment Communist Country Social Transition Ethnic Conflict Economic Sanction 
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  1. 1.
    Some authors also speak about transition to a new social order (Bolcic, 1995: 14), while others use terms such as transformation from “communism” to “post-communism” (Blagojevic, 1998:19). Bearing in mind both Marxist philosophy and ideological discourse accepted in the former communist countries, the terms such as socialism, transition from socialism and post-socialist society may be more appropriate for naming former and present social systems in the countries included in the survey. However, in order to avoid confusion, throughout this work I will use largely accepted terms such as communism, transition from communism and post-communist society.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    However, in spite of differences in their economic situation in the pre-transitional period, it was common for all former communist countries that, before changes, they endured long lasting and deep economic crises which showed the impossibility of the continued existence of state-planned economies, i.e. of their partial economic reforms. (Lazic, 1995:61).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    As we will see later, although much less than Serbia, Macedonia and Bulgaria also experienced some consequences of ethnic conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    These contradictory social processes are so complex that they make comparative analyses extremely difficult. It seems that Blagojevic is right when she calls these processes the transformation from “communism” to “post-communism” (Blagojevic, 1998:19).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Data for Serbia are based on 1991 census and should not be taken for granted, since the ethnic structure was changed due to war-related migrations — immigration of Serbian refugees from other parts of the former Yugoslavia as well as emigration of both people of Serbian and non-Serbian ethnic origin from Serbia.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    However, since, as in other countries, Roma people tend to conceal themselves under another group identity, their number may be much bigger.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    On the first pluralistic elections nationalistic parties won in all republics of the former Yugoslavia. “Building of national states became the main political aim which undermined the establishment of democracy and civil society, while establishment of a welfare state was also forgotten”(Vrcan, quoted by Milic, 1994, p.124). In the struggle for power between communism and anticommunism the winner was nationalism, while democracy lost again (Milic, 1994, p.124)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    In the 1970’s and 1980’s Bulgaria experienced some controlled development of contacts with Western countries, but it was so gradual and imperceptible that it was almost entirely neglected by Western observers (Drezov, 2000: 199).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For example, Bulgaria was removed from the EU visa blacklist not earlier than at the end of 2000 (information received by Bulgarian_Studies on December 1, 2000)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    This fell in output was larger than that which occurred during the Great Depression of the 1930’s (Rostowski, 1996, quoted by Bod, 1998:14).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Foreign investment in Bulgaria was lowest among former Soviet satellites (Drezov, 2000:210), while Macedonia and Serbia mainly share lowest foreign investment in comparison to other countries of the former Yugoslavia.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    However, the trend was not rectilinear in Hungary as well. In 1994, foreign inflows represented less than half the level of previous year, and even less than in 1991, which was the year of sharp contraction. This year, new (Socialist) government practically stopped initiating any new privatisation transactions for several months and re-launched it again in March 1995.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Among the former CMEA-member countries, Bulgaria was the most closely attached to the Soviet economy, with its dependence on trade with the Soviet Union growing continuously even during 1970s and 1980s, when a number of east-European countries attempted to reorient some of their trade to/from some other trading partners (Dobrinski, 2000:582).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Monitor, Centre for the Study of Democracy, No 5, 1999, p.6Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    According to Bulgarian Government sources, the country was losing $1.5 million a day in exports after NATO rendered the Danube impassable. Bulgarian trade economy lost $70.7 million as a result of the war (Dempsey, 2000:65).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ranno signalizirane-polugodisen obzor (Early signalising-half year report), December 1998-May 1999), Sofia: UNDP.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Markovic was a market-oriented Communist who stressed deregulation, elimination of laws that hindered entry into the market, privatisation of small businesses, and creation of capital markets. The results of his reform were spectacular. Inflation dropped precipitously, foreign exchange reserves rose dramatically, and foreign debt declined. As a consequence, foreign investors were encouraged and flocked to Yugoslavia. ( Stokes, 1997: 130–31 )Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Greek intransigence delayed international recognition of Macedonia and its pressure on Macedonia to accept recognition within the UN and EU under the cumbersome euphemism of the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, only fuelled tension between the two neighbouring countries.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Source:, retrieved on November 10, 2000.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    V.M. Bozinovska “Dve varijantc za ekonomska katastrofa” (Two variants for economic catastrophy), Vecer, 22 April 1999, p. 11.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Immediately after the end of NATO bombing of FRY, at the Paris donation conference, Macedonia was given financial help which, however, was far from being enough to cover all economic loss Macedonia experienced in connection to the Kosovo war and NATO bombing - M.Radenkovic “Mimodopska okupacija”(Peace time occupation), NIN, 9 September 1999, p. 44–45.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Macedonian trade unions, for example, reported that 40,000 Macedonian workers were on “forced leave” and that 120,000 workers have not been paid in months (J.Cook “Macedonia ‘On the Brink of Economic Crisis”, Financial Times, July 20, 1999, p.3).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    At the end of 1999, Serbia had almost 1 million refugees and internally displaced people, which made it the country with the highest number of refugees in Europe. Refugees came to Serbia in waves — the first big wave was in 1992, the second was in 1995 and the last one was in 1999, after the NATO bombing. In 1995, 250,000 people from a former Serbian province in Croatia (Krajina) were expelled and moved to Serbia in a very short period of about two weeks. In 1999, about 230,000 Serbs from Kosovo came to Serbia under similar conditions as the Krajina people (Mrvic-Petrovic, 2000:101). The large number of refugees was an additional burden for the Serbian economy, especially because humanitarian aid for Serbia was always much behind the aid given to other parts of the former Yugoslavia.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    UN sanctions were formally economic but their effects were global — political, cultural and moral, which consequences were long lasting even after their abolition (Lazic, 1995:75).Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hyperinflation, together with bank fraud, based on the collection of foreign currency from people by false promises of high interest rates, was used deliberately by the ruling neo-communist party in order to obtain its citizens’ last supplies of foreign currency. The same strategies were used by neo-communists in Macedonia (Nanevski, 1998:57–62), but the inflation was not so high and disastrous as it was in Serbia.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    It is estimated that the total economic damage as a consequence of NATO bombing was $29.608.5 million and that the GDP fell 44.4 per cent in comparison to the previous year (Dinkic, 1999:9).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vesna Nikolic-Ristanovic
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Criminological and Sociological ResearchBelgradeSerbia

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