People's Republic of Poland in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance 1956-1970
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PRL w Radzie Wzajemnej Pomocy Gospodarczej w latach 1956-1970
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People’s Republic of Poland in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance 1956-1970 The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) was established in 1949 upon the initiative of Stalin and comprised a successive step towards the formation of the Eastern bloc. The Council, which generally speaking, served Soviet interests, consolidated the Soviet economic model in dependent countries and made it easier for the Kremlin to control and influence the shape and trends of their economies. During the first years of the existence of COMECON, Poland was forced to assume the role of a supplier of fuel and raw material not only for her eastern neighbour but also for the GDR and Czechoslovakia. The breakthrough caused by the Twentieth Convention of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the ”Polish October” events partially changed this highly unfavourable situation. The new Polish authorities, especially Gomułka, attached great hope to COMECON. The leader of the Polish United Workers’ Party went on the assumption that it would suffice to better organise the work performed by the Council for it to become an efficient motor force for economic progress. Hence the considerable activity pursued by Warsaw in initiating various changes within the Council and pertaining to, i.e. the structure of the COMECON apparatus. The Council was, however, unable to create longer-term conditions suitable for accelerating the economic growth of its member states. The reason lay in limitations stemming from the character of the centrally planned economies of the socialist countries. The prime obstacle for cooperation within COMECON was the chaotic currency/financial system. On the other hand, the strategy of a mutual synchronization of economic plans as well as efforts aimed at production specialisation and coordination merely rendered indelible the negative economic tendency prevalent among the Council countries, affecting the autocratisation and bureaucratisation of the economic administration and increasing the technological backwardness. All these factors were accompanied by the contradictory interests of the member states and the stand represented by the Soviet Union for whom COMECON possessed not only economic but predominantly political significance. The Kremlin treated the Council as yet another instrument for maintaining the cohesion of the Eastern bloc and for providing additional chances for the economic dependence of the members states and the exploitation of their economies.
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