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I am currently living in Romania and I have heard on several occasions about the Percentages agreement.

The article mentions that it was a secret agreement, so most of the information about it was contradictory ranging from "it did not happen" to "it happened and it is a sign that West left us to the Russians".

According to Wikipedia, Romania was one of the "unlucky" countries to fall under the Russia influence (90%):

90% to USSR and only 10% to UK

Question: What do those 10 percent for UK actually mean?

Was there any real influence from Western, at least in the first decades of communism in the Eastern block?

[Edit related to duplicate]

Referenced question is about leaders' intention, while this one is about the actual outcome (if any) of the small percentages.

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  • re "Referenced question is about leaders' intention, while this one is about the actual outcome (if any) of the small percentages. " How is one different from the other? What evidence do you have that there actually is a deeper or more meaningful agreement than presented to the linked duplicate? – Pieter Geerkens Jan 23 '18 at 10:27
  • @PieterGeerkens - by "intent" I understand what they wanted to achieve back then and by "outcome" is what happened afterwards. E.g. Based on first-hand experience of older friends and relatives, I do feel those 10%. But, this is just a feeling. Thus a question for historians. – Alexei Jan 23 '18 at 10:29
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    Please put all clarifications in the original question - labelled as an update once there are existing answers that might be affected. Comments are ephemeral, and subject to vaporization at any time. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 23 '18 at 10:32
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It didn't mean anything.

The reality in 1944 is that they were dividing Southeastern Europe into British and Soviet spheres of influence. A country, if it was not neutral or jointly occupied (i.e., 50-50), could only be part of one sphere or the other, not both. At least, not in any tenable way for any length of time. In practical terms, therefore, each Balkan country was effectively allocated to whichever side had a bigger "percentage" in the agreement. This is apparent from the fact that neither one attempted to discuss how this percentage could be measured or the allocation implemented:

This entire agreement was made in rather nonchalantly at the dinner table . . . the modalities of measurement never were discussed.

Johnson, Lonnie. Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends. Oxford University Press, 1996.

A curious lapse had they intended the numbers to be meaningful. As experienced national leaders, Churchill and Stalin were not naive enough for this to be an accident. In fact, it's evident from the way Churchill referred to the agreement that he considered the the percentages to essentially be only for show. As he remarked in 1956:

Stalin never broke his word to me. We agreed on the Balkans. I said he could have Rumania and Bulgaria; and he said we could have Greece. He signed a slip of paper. And he never broke his word. We saved Greece that way. When we went in in 1944 Stalin didn't interfere. You Americans didn't help, you know.

Sulzberger, Cyrus Leo. The Last of the Giants. Macmillan, New York, 1970.

There is no trace, in Churchill's description of the deal, of Stalin promising him anything in Bulgaria, where they supposedly agreed on a 25% share for Britain, let alone a measly 10% in Romania. Likewise, Churchill indicates no Soviet reservations on Britain "having" Greece, where the nominal percentages were the inverse of Romania's (i.e., 90% to the UK and 10% to the USSR). Not only did Churchill leave the meeting believing he had secured for Britain a free hand in Greece, but the Foreign Office even felt empowered to request Soviet support for their Greek policies.

[A] clear if informal deal had been done on the poin that mattered most to Churchill: he had Stalin's consent to handle Greee as he saw fit . . . [Foreign Secretary] Eden told the Soviet Ambassador [that] as Greece was in the British theatre of command, "we felt entitled to ask for Soviet support for our policy there in return for the support we were giving to Soviet policy with regard to Romania" . . . The Soviet reply on 18 May was positive.

Carlton, David. Churchill and the Soviet Union. Manchester University Press, 2000.

This interpretation was evidently accepted by both sides. As Churchill noted, Stalin did actually stay out of Greece, allowing the communists there to falter and fail without Soviet support.

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    I would simply add that, in a pre-World War One colonialist context, the percentages might have determined joint ownership of a resource-extraction corporation. Clearly this wasn't ever happening under Stalin's hard-line Communism, but might have if a reform minded Deng Xiaoping, for example, had been ruling the U.S.S.R. at the time. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 23 '18 at 11:08
  • It didn't mean anything. - that is excessive. the 50-50% ratio brings some more light into it maybe. Also, the answer under a linked question talks about interpretation and about figures not being respected by the Russians. So they meant something at least for some recipients, they could be interpreted, even if they were intended to be misleading and not be followed. – user8690 Nov 13 '18 at 13:47
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It was more symbolic than real. Churchill didn't want to have an agreement where one party had a "0%" interest in a country. But Stalin consistently exceeded "his" percentages.

The Soviets' "90%" interest in Romania was actually 100%; and its "75% interest in Bulgaria was more like 90%. On the other hand, the Soviets' influence in Greece, while a minority, was more than "10%.

Hungary was supposed to be split 50-50 Soviet and western allies, but became a Soviet satellite. Only Yugoslavia was "split" 50-50, per the agreement, by its going its own way.

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