Photo: Juraj Bartoš

We benefited significantly from the cooperation with “brother” socialist countries. Czechoslovakia and other socialist countries were economically self-sufficient

Facts and disproval of the myth ↓

During the more than forty years of their rule, communists kept on repeating that the economic “cooperation” among socialist countries is more efficient and more successful than the capitalist international trade and is more beneficial for their citizens. In contradiction with economic rules and the foundations of wealth resources and functioning of bilaterally beneficial trade, the regime declared the economically senseless thesis saying that the Socialist Camp would be economically self-sufficient thanks to that, i.e. it would need no trade with capitalist countries. The East Bloc countries tried to achieve the maximum economic and financial self-sufficiency in practice. 

The idea of economic self-sufficiency of the Socialist Bloc in the area of foreign trade has proven to be an illusion in fact. Socialist countries could not do without import from developed capitalist countries. For instance, the foreign trade of socialist Czechoslovakia with developed capitalist countries represented 17% of the total Czechoslovak foreign trade in 1983.

On the other hand, the economic cooperation with other socialist countries was disadvantageous for Czechoslovakia. Under the influence of the USSR, Czechoslovakia was forced to enter into disadvantageous business partnerships and contracts and develop an economy that depended on the USSR as concerned energy and resources. Examples of those disadvantages include the export of Czechoslovak arms to so called friendly regimes and exchange of products for raw materials and energy, particularly crude oil and natural gas from the Soviet Union. The CEMA trade was hindered also by the irrational system of mutual payments in transfer rubles that were inconvertible due to which the countries with active trade balances were not able to use their surpluses to purchase outside the CEMA (more in chapter 2.3 Economic relations with foreign countries). 

During the 41 years of socialism, Czechoslovakia developed a strong resources and energy dependence on the then Soviet Union, which has been surviving until these days and represents the future risk embodied in Slovakia´s dependence on the supply of crude oil, natural gas, and nuclear fuels from Russia.