Egypt's revolution has only just begun
Egyptians embrace on Friday night while celebrating President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.
February 11th, 2011
07:36 PM ET

Egypt's revolution has only just begun

Egypt's revolution takes me back to the fall of communism in my native Bulgaria.

The first breath of freedom, the joy in the heart and the high hopes for the future are simply overwhelming!

But in Bulgaria that joy was soon tempered by the realization that the battle for change had only just begun.

If the country was to have true democracy, the system had to change, not just the leaders at the top.Egypt today stands where Bulgaria did on November 10, 1989, when the unthinkable happened.

Bulgaria's longtime Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov resigned and the reformist wing of his party took control.

The Communists promised democratic reform and opened negotiations with the fledgling opposition.

It was incredible to see the Communist elite at the same table, negotiating giving up its absolute power, with a group of dissidents they had repressed for years. Would they really give that up?

The dissident who led the disparate umbrella group in the talks told me how they managed to stand their ground against the politically savvy Communists. First, Zhelyo Zhelev said, they decided to put up a united front and set aside their differences. And even more important, they vowed to keep up the pressure for genuine change. So the opposition continued to lead pro-democracy rallies while negotiating the country's transition. Bit by bit, the Communists began to give up powers.

But keeping up the pressure for genuine reform was risky. At one point, a misunderstanding brought Bulgaria to the brink of a Tiananmen scenario. The Communists had no experience in dealing with dissent. And when tensions heated up in front of parliament, they panicked. Fearing the crowd would break into the building, the Communist president ordered the military to bring in the tanks.

That order was never passed down the chain of command.

And Bulgarians dodged a bullet.

Two decades on, a young generation has no memory of that fight for change.

But Eastern Europe's revolutions remind us that change does not come easy. It could go terribly wrong in a blink of an eye. And it is a long process of dismantling the old system, piece by piece.

Egypt's revolution has only just begun.

Read more about the transition in Bulgaria.

Post by:
Filed under: Bulgaria • Egypt • World
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Sam

    I hope Egypt takes the right next steps. What i think is special about this revolution is that it was started by people who know history and learned from it, not just because of food prices. It was started and much supported by middle and upper class people who are aware of what democracy and freedom is. I hope democracy and freedom will sweep the whole middle east as it did in eastern europe years before it, we should also learn from that.

    February 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    I'm no expert, but I'll say this, The Romans invented pizza. The Chinese invented spagatti, not the Italians, that is a myth.

    February 12, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kaydgee

    It is a shame that the most racist and small minded comments so often come from those picking a screen name that tries to convince us that they are representing for the people of the US... like, say, America 1st. (who would be the first one to be upset when called a Bagger.) The Egyptians of Tahrir Square are no different from the Chinese of Tienamen Square. Why some posters try to assign less validity to their living under the thumb of a dictator than their Asian counterparts is perplexing. We should be happy for the birth of the same kind of democracy that took us billions of dollars to force in Iraq.

    February 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. junkyarddog

    Now it is time for african americans to have our revolution in america oh! Wait we cant we spend all our time being white washed sell outs i see why we are hated so much

    February 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
1 2