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.