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It seems to me that east of Italy / Germany all of Europe was in the Soviet sphere of influence, with the blatant exception of Greece. I'm sure that the long coast made access to Western influence easier, assuming that Western influence is what the Greek hegemony of the time wanted. But why? Was Greek a failure of Soviet influence? Was Greek a success of Western influence? How much of this can be attributed to internal Greek policy and culture (birthplace of democracy)?

Edit: The Wikipedia article on Greece glosses over the Greek civil war, but having found the page that describes the war in detail the answer to this question resides in there. In short: NATO involvement and lots of dead Greeks. Thanks to Anixx for pointing me in the right direction.

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    For Yugoslavia and Albania, as much as it is questionable if they were a part of Eastern Bloc (after, respectively, 1948 and 1961), they surely weren't under USSR command like the rest. Nice overview of Soviet political progress: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Bloc – kubanczyk Nov 27 '12 at 10:31
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    @kubanczyk: That is a great read, but has no information specific to Greece. Still, the Grecian neighbours' situation is good to know as well as it does shed some light. – dotancohen Nov 27 '12 at 10:45
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    Hence I've made a comment, not an answer. – kubanczyk Nov 27 '12 at 11:01
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    Side note. No part of Italy was ever under Soviet influence. Communism was indeed widespread in Italy, and indeed the second political party until its dissolution in 1991. In the South leftist workers were quickly disbanded (when not dispatched) by the Mafia. The country was (and is) solidly in the hands of the USA (e.g. number of bases, Gladio, ...). – astabada Jan 17 '13 at 15:45
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    The Soviet Union only got control over European countries in which they had troops. – Tyler Durden Apr 24 '14 at 20:32
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Under the so-called "Percentages Agreement" proposed by Churchill and accepted by Stalin, Greece was the only country in the Balkans with less than 50% Soviet influence (10% to be exact). The other main Balkan countries, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Hungary all had 50% or more Soviet influence.

Although Greek Communists started a civil war, it might have been without Stalin's aid, at least overtly. In any event, the original agreement gave the Western world a "head start" in stopping Communist maneuvers in Greece.

  • (With the remark that Hungary is not a Balkan country) Geographically countries north of Balkan (Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland etc) and north/east of Balkan (Romania, Bulgaria) was just way easier to reach with Soviet troops during WWII on the way to Germany. As the fronts passed, Soviet forces made major political cleanups '45 and going on, supporting local communists movements. – Greg Jan 29 '16 at 4:04
  • This answer lacks historical evidence and sociopolitical analysis. The conflict began after the events of December 1944, where British & greek nazis attacked on a greek demonstration, killing many greeks from all the political spectrum, to inflict the British and US imperialism across Greece and stop the rising revolutionary party. This was done months before the Yalta Conference that you mention. – koita_pisw_sou Jul 14 '17 at 9:56
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In Greece in 1946-1949 there was a bloody civil war between the West-supported right-wing monarchist dictatorship and the Communist rebels of Democratic Army of Greece (DSE). The government won the war and harsh repressions followed. The Communist party was outlawed and Greece entered NATO.

It should be noted that due to Soviet-Western war-time agreements Greece fell into Western sphere of influence so the USSR did not actively involve in the civil war. The rebels were supported by Yugoslavia, Albania and Bulgaria. The British on the other hand, participated actively, and even provided troops.

  • Thank you. Somehow when reading the Wikipedia page on Greece I missed the link to the Greek civil war. The whole answer to my question seems to be in there. Thank you for the mention and helping me find it. – dotancohen Nov 27 '12 at 10:48
  • Great answer, just a minor correction: The civil war ended in October 16, 1949 with Zachariadis ceasefire. – yannis Nov 28 '12 at 14:54
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    of course the Soviets were heavily involved, but through their proxies. – jwenting Jun 19 '13 at 11:00
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Shortly after World War II, the country of Greece collapsed into chaos and a brutal civil war ensued until 1949. As the Soviet Union was expanding its "spheres of influence" across Eastern Europe, it reached southward towards Bulgaria and Yugoslavia-(though to a lesser extent. Yugoslavia was never officially a part of the Soviet dominated Warsaw Pact/Alliance).

For the Soviet Union, Greece, was the final point of potential universal East European conquest,though Greece was also the beginning point for potential South European conquest. In conquering Greece, the Soviet Union could essentially control the commerce/trade throughout the Mediterranean sea region and could establish its geopolitical dominance in that part of the world, with the likely possibility of invading Egypt and having access to the Nile, the Red Sea and close access to the petroleum rich Arabian peninsula.

However, NONE of this materialized, due to the proactive geopolitical and international security interests of U.S. President Harry Truman and his famed, 1949 "Truman Doctrine". This particular foreign policy "Doctrine" primarily focused on Greece as an important U.S. ally during the Cold War era-(for many of the above mentioned reasons, though the geopolitical reasoning was of paramount significance). A few years after The Truman Doctrine, Greece officially joined NATO during the mid 1950's, under The Eisenhower Presidency-(and has remained a steadfast NATO ally since).

  • As noted by @Tom Au, there is a well attested percentages agreement between Stalin and Churchill to which Stalin adhered. Baring compelling evidence that Stalin's adherence was due to reasons other than this agreement, that must be the accepted agreement. – Pieter Geerkens Oct 15 '17 at 1:48
  • The Stalin-Churchill agreement at Yalta-(though a preliminary step in distancing the Soviet Union's "influence" over Greece) was parenthetical to the larger influence and impact The Truman Doctrine had on preventing Greece from becoming a Soviet "sphere of influence". – user26763 Oct 15 '17 at 1:55
  • More specifically, a Soviet "sphere of influence" with a puppet regime-(a.k.a., The Greek Communists). – user26763 Oct 15 '17 at 1:58
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Greece was with the West after the civil war, but also before the WWII. Greeces' hegemony was opposing Germany and the Soviet Union, and supporting the UK. This decision of Greeces' dictator Metaxas just before the start of WWII marked the entering of Greece in the western influence sphere. Then came the civil war and the agreement of Stalin and Churchill which finally secured Greece in the west zone.

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    I'm sorry, please take no offence, but you should really put some effort into writing properly… – o0'. Apr 5 '15 at 22:26
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    This argument is very weak. If opposing Germany and the Soviets were enough, e.g Poland has never been in the Eastern block.. – Greg Jan 2 '17 at 15:48

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