The Molotov Plan was a system proposed by the Soviet Union to provide economic aid to the countries that remained in its area of influence after World War II . The name comes from the then Soviet Foreign Minister, Viacheslav Molotov.
By the end of the war, Europe had been practically completely destroyed. The continent, moreover, had been divided into two parts: one under American influence and the other, governed by communist parties under the influence of Moscow and encompassing almost all the eastern countries.
Given this, the United States offered economic aid for the reconstruction of the countries affected by the conflict, including those of the eastern bloc. However, the Stalin government rejected the idea, as it considered it to be an American tactic to gain power in the countries of its ideological and political orbit.
The Soviet response was to present its own Aid Plan, channeled through bilateral agreements. This project soon evolved into a larger one, CAME or COMECON, which remained in force until 1991.
At the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were at a turning point. On the one hand, it still seemed possible that both countries could cooperate. On the other, the division of the areas of influence seemed to lead to irreparable tensions.
The political and economic systems were totally opposed, but they had managed to collaborate on specific issues such as the Nuremberg trials or the Paris Treaties of 1947.
The prolongation of the Soviet occupation of Iran provoked its first diplomatic clash in 1946. After this, many others followed, until, finally, it became clear that the world was heading towards a bipolar configuration.
This would end up leading to the Cold War, in which the two superpowers indirectly clashed for several decades.
After the end of the world conflict, developed to a large extent on European soil, the continent found itself with destroyed infrastructures and with many difficulties to recover.
The United States became the most important world power . General Marshall launched a proposal to European countries to help rebuild. This was very well received in both London and Paris, as in other European countries.
The so-called Marshall Plan did not exclude the Soviet Union or the countries in its sphere of influence, and many in the US thought it would also accept US aid.
The Conference on the Plan took place in Paris on June 27, 1947. Among the attendees was Viacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Minister. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the needs of the European countries and agree on what amounts would be allocated to each of them.
However, to the surprise of many attendees, the Soviets rejected the Plan. The reason was, according to Molotov himself, that it was “an interference of certain countries in the internal economic affairs of other countries. Despite the fact that Czechoslovakia and Poland wanted to participate, the Stalin government prevented it.
As noted above, the Molotov Plan was the response to the Marshall Plan proposed by the United States.
As was the case with the American plan, the one presented by the Soviet Foreign Minister was aimed at helping to rebuild the countries affected by World War II. The difference was that it was only dedicated to the eastern bloc.
Many historians point out that there was a hidden objective behind that aid, as was also the case with the Marshall Plan. Financial aid to neighboring countries would be a great way to increase their influence, making them end up depending on your help.
The Molotov Plan consisted of allocating a part of the budget of the Soviet Union to help economically the countries of the eastern bloc, which had come to be governed by the communist parties after the Second World War.
Participants in the program would be Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany. Tito’s Yugoslavia, for its part, soon broke with the Soviet regime and preferred to present itself as a non-alienated country.
The plan would be channeled through a series of bilateral trade agreements. Finally, its practical application would be reflected in the creation of CAME, an economic alliance of the socialist countries.
Some historians claim that the Molotov Plan was never implemented. Others, even recognizing that this is true, point out that it was the germ of the creation of CAME, much more ambitious.
CAME or COMECON
The Molotov Plan quickly led to the creation of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CAME). This organization, also known as COMECON in the West, was an agreement between the countries of Eastern Europe to collaborate with each other economically.
Its appearance dates from the Conference of Representatives held in Moscow in January 1949, in which Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the USSR and Czechoslovakia participated.
In April of that same year, the first session of the organization was held, whose decisions were taken unanimously, in theory, until the beginning of 1960.
After those first years, the organization expanded with the entry of other countries from the communist sphere. Thus, the German Democratic Republic, Mongolia, and Vietnam entered somewhat later and, in 1972, Cuba joined them.
In this way, CAME went from being an institution that grouped a few geographically close countries to become a kind of socialist international with members from three continents.
Among the agreements it approved are the principles that regulated cooperation between its members on economic issues.
CAME went much further in its objectives than the Molotov Plan intended. While the latter only wanted the USSR to provide economic aid to neighboring countries, the new organization was more ambitious.
In this way, its purpose was to promote the unification and coordination of actions in pursuit of the development of a planned economy. In the same way, it sought to favor the economic, scientific and technical progress of the member countries. Its ultimate goal was to reach the level of Western countries in these areas.
The fall of the communist bloc, in 1991, meant the disappearance of the CAME. At the time, it had managed to control 10% of world freight traffic. Upon dissolving, that number had dropped by three percentage points.
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