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The Neutral Bloc commonly refers to the nations of Eastern Europe which have adopted some form of neutrality in relations to NATO in the west and the CSTO to the east (if not the Soviet Union as a whole). While the term has become used to refer to all neutral European states, the term was initially coined in the late 1990s in reference to the growing move by the former Eastern Bloc nations toward international neutrality following the end of the Warsaw Pact and communist rule. Many political annalists believe the move toward neutrality came about due to fears by Eastern Europeans over re-instigating the Cold War over their desires to grow closer to Western Europe. The notion of a Neutral Bloc has been regarded internationally as a major step in easing relations between the West and the Soviet Union. Despite removing any notion of military alliances, most of the Neutral Bloc nation shave since become member states of the European Union and other non-military organizations.
The idea of creating a type of neutral buffer state in Central Europe been in political discussion for centuries. One of the most recent proposals was shortly after World War I, in which a new nation would be formed out of the territorial losses of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Russia. This vast nation would act as a buffer state between Germany and Russia, who were seen as growing powers in Europe. The proposed nation never materialize, but would later rematerialized after World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.
The idea of political neutrality as a means of independence became a major question for many nations in Europe in the early years of the Cold War. In 1955, Austria would sign their Declaration of Neutrality, which peacefully ended Austria's occupation by the Allied forces, and was seen as Austria's only way to avoid the fate of neighboring Germany. Finland and Yugoslavia would also adopt some form of neutrality as a means to distinguish their independence from the Soviet Bloc.
Since the end of World War II, Europe was divided between the capitalist west (controlled by NATO) and the communist east (then controlled by the Warsaw Pact). This division would be characterized in the metaphorical (and even physical) Iron Curtain. The tensions between the east and west would remain cold until the late 1980s, in which Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev would implement glasnost and perestroika (among others). The loosening of Soviet control in Eastern Europe would eventually lead to the fall of communist governments in Europe. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the eventually reunification of Germany, the importance of the Warsaw Pact was in question. In 1991, Czechoslovakian President Václav Havel would formally dissolve the Warsaw Pact (with no objections from any member state).
After the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the newly independent Confederation of Bosnia and Herzegovina constitutionally declared neutrality, primarily from the ongoing war in Croatia. While foreign aid and UN peacekeepers would remain in the country throughout the 1990s, the military neutrality helped keep the region out of a major conflict with its neighbors.
As part of his foreign policies, President Nikolai Ryzhkov would propose greater cooperation with all former communist states. At the time, the minor Collective Security Treaty Organization was solely created to allow safe military transfers and to prevent future conflicts between Moscow and the former republics which gained independence in 1991. As the renewal of the CSTO came up in 1997, Ryzhkov supported the inclusion of the former Warsaw Pact nations in the organization. At the time, American President Bill Clinton was a major supported of NATO expansion eastward, which may have pushed the Soviets to prevent any expansion.
Under this debate, Czechoslovakia was greatly divided. Based on the nations historic satellite status between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the Federal Assembly voted and passed their own Declaration of Neutrality, barring any military cooperation with either NATO or the USSR. Enticed by this, Poland followed in Czechoslovakia's path. Soon Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania.