Walther von Oldenburg wrote:Are you sure kvs?
South Korea in 1940s was even poorer than Bulgaria, Taiwan wasn't rich either. Japan was bombed to shreds.
Are you so sure NATO-affiliated Bulgaria wouldn't reach at least the level of Spain?
And in the 70s Bulgaria was responsible for something like 1/3rd of the world export of circuit boards and microelectronics; it had 200,000 people working in this industry out of its 8 million population. It was supplying the Soviet space program with computers, and a bunch of other Soviet sectors too. It was also exporting to the West.
Bulgarian research institutes were among the pioneers in the eastern bloc for robotics, early AI and various computer technologies.
The country's automotive, metallurgical and shipbuilding industries were built from scratch in the socialist period.
Bulgaria had a huge tourist industry. Biggest tourist destination in the Eastern bloc. Only as of 2016 has it again reached its previous milestone set in 1990; that of over 10 million tourists per year.
Dozens of dams, other power plants, chemical works, mines, railroads, motorways, pipelines, etc... were built during the socialist era. What infrastructure has been built there since 1991? A metro system in the capital. Well, whoppee.
The country was undergoing breakneck industrialization, urbanization, construction of mass-housing projects by the 60s.
All I see though now, granted from an outsider's perspective - is that legacy being destroyed. Computer industry has been wiped out, automotive, shipbuilding too; no new railroads since the 80s. A little bit of development in the metallurgical sector, based off the old socialist legacy - that's about it. Universities and institutes have gone down the drain. Tourism has recovered to its previous level, albeit after a whole 26 years. Masses of Bulgarians exiting their country to work in richer countries and send money back home. Airports have been spruced up for the occasion. Remittances from abroad accounting for a not-insignificant portion of their GDP by now. And now EU nationals buying up homes there since land is cheap - albeit still not that cheap for the average Bulgarian, and increasing numbers of foreigners buying up homes will ultimately serve to make home ownership less accessible for the natives by driving up prices.
So no I don't think that Bulgaria would have reached any level under NATO-affiliation. It's enough to look at what the country has achieved since 1991 to be sure. Yeah, maybe propped up by some virtual financial economy and handouts from Germany for its public sector, as Greece is now. Well 40% of young Greeks are forced to look for work abroad now.