Economic Entanglements in East-Central Europe and the COMECON’s Position in the Global Economy (1949-1991)

Economic Entanglements in East-Central Europe and the COMECON’s Position in the Global Economy (1949-1991)

Research group “East Central Europe Transnational” at the Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (GWZO) at the University of Leipzig / Fachkommission Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften im J.G. Herder-Forschungsrat / Centre for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies at the European University Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder (ZiP)
From - Until
14.11.2012 - 16.11.2012
Müller, Uwe

The involvement of further parts of East-Central Europe in the soviet sphere of influence in the wake of WWII had far-reaching consequences for the economic relations both between East-Central European countries themselves and between the region and other parts of the world. The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA/ COMECON), founded in 1949, marked for four decades socialist countries’ space of action both in an economic and geographical sense. Since its dissolution more than 20 years ago the CMEA became a research object in various branches of economic history. The historicisation of research on the CMEA and the progressive opening of new sources created novel perspectives and questions. It therefore deserves consideration that, although the CMEA eventually proved to be a failed effort for a supranational coordination of national planned economies, it was never simply reducible to a free trade zone.
Indeed, it initiated and coordinated joint projects in large economic and infrastructural areas. Hence studying the range of bottom-up attempts at cooperation and integration offers new insights in the system and operation of command central planned economies. Despite efforts at autarky both on the level of individual nations and the bloc at large, contacts with neutral and non-aligned states played an important role in CMEA countries’ foreign trade relations as early as in the 1950s and 1960s. Changing global economic conditions in the 1970s brought about a revision of economic and political strategies in which relations with the “First” and “Third World” earned ever more significance.


14 November
4-4:45 pm
Chair: Klaus Ziemer (Neckarsteinach)
Uwe Müller (Leipzig), Introduction. East Central European Planned Economies in the global Economy (1945-1990)

5.15-7.30 pm
1. The CMEA. A transnational Institution which works?
Simon Godard (Geneva), Internationalism as a vocation? Considerations on the working culture of CMEA-public servants
Erik Radisch (Bochum/Leipzig), Soviet Concepts of the Comecon (1956-1971)
Jan Lomícek (Prague), Czechoslovak participation in joint projects within the CMEA in the seventies and eighties of 20th century

8:00 Reception

15. November
2. Case studies about branches
Chair: Zdenek Lukas (Vienna)

9.30-11.00 am
Pál Germuska (Budapest), A Special case of Branch-Cooperation. Military Industrial Collaboration in the frames of the CMEA
Mila Oiva (Turku), Competition and the Socialist Integration – Contradictory Concepts? The case of Polish exports of ready-to-wear clothes to the Soviet Union

11.30 am-1 pm
Zsombor Bódy (Budapest), Semantic of Political Economy of the International Relations in the COMECOM. The Example of the Hungarian Ikarus Buses. 1957-1975
Christopher Mady (Bochum), Hungarian Foreign Trade Relations in the Automobile Industry

2 pm – 4.15 pm
3. Relations between West and East
Chair: Karl von Delhaes (Marburg)

Mikhail Lipkin (Moscow), The perception of west European integration in the USSR
Angela Romano (London), Defensive and transformative: the European Community's policy towards the Comecon since the early 1970s
Suvi Kansikas (Helsinki), The CMEA as an arena for competing national interests

4.45 – 6.15 pm
Johan Schot/Jira Janac (Eindhoven), Tensions of Sovietization and Europeanization of Railway Governance system in East-Central Europe
Peter Švík (Bratislava), Reflections on the general trends in the East-West trade with civil aviation technology in 1960s and 1970s

6.30 pm
Sitzung der Fachkommission (nur für Fachkommissionsmitglieder)

8.00 pm
Conference Dinner

16 November
9.00 – 11.15 am
4. The CMEA in the global economy
Chair: Sebastian Kinder (Tübingen)

Christian Gerlach (Bern), Reintegration into the capitalist world market? Grain imports to Eastern Europe in the 1970s and their implications
Radek Soběhart (Prag), „Es lebe Oberst Muammar Gaddafi!“. Tschechoslowakisch-libysche Beziehungen (1974-1985). Ein Beitrag zum globalen Kalten Krieg.
Martin Dangerfield (Wolverhampton), Post-CMEA Economic Relations of Former Soviet Bloc Countries and Russia: Continuity and Change

11.45 am – 1.15 pm
5. Final Section
Christoph Boyer (Salzburg), Comments
Dagmara Jajeśniak Quast (Leipzig/Frankfurt-Oder), Closing remarks: Multiple international dimensions of Comecon. New research approach of old phenomena.

Contact (announcement)

Dr. Uwe Müller
Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (GWZO) at the University of Leipzig

Editors Information
Published on
Temporal Classification
Regional Classification
Subject - Topic
Additional Informations
Country Event
Language(s) of event
Language of announcement