Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the Ronald Reagan administration. This volume is best read in conjunction with other volumes in the subseries, in order to better understand the East-West relationships, the nature of U.S. foreign policy, and bilateral relationships with Eastern Europe during the end of the Cold War. The most important of these volumes include: Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, Volume VII, Poland, 1977–1981; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, Volume IX, Poland, 1982–1987; Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, Volume III, Soviet Union, January 1981–January 1983; Volume IV, Soviet Union, January 1983–March 1985; Volume V, Soviet Union, March 1985–October 1986; Volume VI, Soviet Union, October 1986–January 1989; Volume XI, START I; Volume XII, INF, 1984–1987; and Foreign Relations, 1989–1992, Volume X, European Security, 1984–1992.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1981–1988, Volume X

This volume documents U.S. policy toward each of the countries in Eastern Europe, except Poland. The documentation herein highlights the administration’s struggle with its policy of differentiation toward Eastern Europe, with regard to both policy formulation and implementation. Additionally, Eastern European countries struggled to understand differentiation as well, and many, but not all, sought to strengthen their relationship with the United States in order to obtain better weapons, technology, or trade agreements, all the while balancing their developing relationships with the United States with, to varying degrees, their continued alignment with and commitment to the Soviet Union and communism.

The tension between differentiation and various protest movements within Eastern Europe that emerged or gained strength during this period is also highlighted in this volume. The reportage from various Eastern European posts makes it clear that what the future held had yet to be determined. All the while analysts and members of the intelligence community identified increasing disgruntlement and unrest on the ground in Eastern Europe. The United States remained focused on building relations with Eastern Europe countries, with the hope of introducing democratic principles and of lessening the influence of and commitment to the Soviet Union.

[Page X]

Human rights play an important role in this volume and are often discussed within the bilateral context. Many Eastern European countries had egregious human rights records, but they believed that human rights were an internal issue, and that the United States had no right to discuss these internal matters with them. The United States, however, was not dissuaded by this argument and continued to make the human rights agenda a central component of its policy toward Eastern Europe.

Several high-level visits illustrate the changing relationships between the United States and Eastern European countries. Vice President George Bush visited Eastern Europe in 1983 and Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead made several trips to multiple East European countries in the late 1980s. These visits, especially the working-level visits of Whitehead, showed a desire to engage and build and strengthen relationships with Eastern European countries, but in many instances also highlighted how slow progress was.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of officials, especially Lisa Jones and Cate Sewell, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Thanks are due to the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who were extremely helpful in arranging full access to the files of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Office of the Historian appreciates the assistance of Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS), in conducting the declassification review of this volume for the Department of State.

Melissa Jane Taylor collected and selected documentation and edited the volume under the supervision of Kathleen B. Rasmussen, then-Chief of the Global Issues and General Division, and Adam M. Howard, then-General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. The volume was reviewed by Kathleen B. Rasmussen, and Kristin L. Ahlberg, Assistant General Editor. Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division, coordinated the declassification review with the assistance of Chris Tudda and Dean Weatherhead. Matthew R.G. Regan did the copy and technical editing under the supervision of Mandy A. Chalou, Chief of the Editing and Publishing Division.

Melissa Jane Taylor