The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 34: Cable from the Soviet Ambassador in Warsaw
to Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin, May 22,1968

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S—MID No. 5.

This cable from the Soviet ambassador in Warsaw, Averki Arislov, was sent at Brezhnev's request to
Soviet Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin during his "vacation "in Karlovy Vary. The cable recounts two
points that Gomułka made in a recent conversation, which Brezhnev presumably wants Kosygin to raise
with CPCz officials: that Yugoslavia and Romania are making a determined effort to forge closer ties with
Czechoslovakia in the hope that the three countries would join ranks, at least informally, in a pro-Western
bloc; and that Czechoslovakia is seeking to "reestablish diplomatic relations with West Germany, "much
as Novotný had done earlier. While accurate in certain respects, Gomułka's information is being
transmitted to create alarming conclusions about the direction and nature of the Prague Spring.

"At the request of Cde. L. I. Brezhnev I am sending a telegram from our ambassador in Warsaw:" In accordance with this message, I visited Cde. Gomułka today and informed him about the visits of Pham Van Dong and Broz Tito and about our reply to Romania.

In the talks that ensued, Cde. Gomułka's remarks on two questions are worthy of attention:

First, Cde. Gomułka knows that Ceauşescu has pressingly invited and is still inviting Cde. Dubček to visit Romania.53 However, Cde. Dubček replied that at present he cannot accept this invitation. Ceauşescu then proposed that he visit Czechoslovakia, but it seems he has not yet received a reply from the Czechoslovaks.

Broz Tito is also pressing Cde. Dubček to visit Yugoslavia and would not be against visiting Cde. Dubček.54

In Cde. Gomułka's opinion these three countries are united by their attraction to the West. Their common wish is to leave the socialist camp and to set up something in the nature of an unofficial alliance that might be formed among them.55

It is known that when Novotný was still in power, Czechoslovakia wanted very much to reestablish diplomatic relations with West Germany. Last year, when a party and government delegation of the Polish People's Republic was in Prague in connection with the signing of a treaty on friendship and mutual assistance between Poland and Czechoslovakia, Cde. Gomułka had the feeling that Czechoslovakia was ready to send its representatives to Bonn. Thus, Dubček is merely continuing the line of rapprochement with West Germany that began earlier. And if the Czechoslovaks have not yet established diplomatic relations with West Germany, such relations, in fact, do exist. …

53 This same matter is noted in secret reports and dispatches now contained in the former CPSU archives. See, for
example, 'TsK KPSS: O nekotorykh problemakh sovetsko-rumynskikh otnoshenii v svete pozitsii, zanyatoi rukovodstvom
RKP v svyazi s sobytiyami v Chekhoslovakii," Report No. 686 (TOP SECRET) to the CPSU CC Politburo from A. V.
Basov. Soviet ambassador in Romania, September 23,1968. in TsKhSD.F. 5, Op. 60, D. 339, LI. 106–121, esp. 107–109.

54 On this point, see "Ob otnoshenii SFRYu k sobytiyam v ChSSR (Politicheskoe pis'mo)," Cable No. 495 (TOP
SECRET) from I. A. Benediktov, Soviet ambassador in Yugoslavia, to A. A. Gromyko, K. V. Katushev, and K. V.
Rusakov, October 20, 1968, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 278, LI. 235–256, esp. 235–238. See also "Zapis' besedy s
sovetnikom posol'stva ChSSR v NR Bolgarii tov. Krausom," Cable No. 519 (SECRET) from M. E. Pozolotin,
minister-counselor at Soviet embassy in Bulgaria, July 22, 1968, in TsKhSD, F. 5, Op. 60, D. 278, LI. 113–114.

55 Gomułka's comments here stem directly from the meeting he and Dubček had in Ostrava, a city in northern Moravia,
on February 7, 1968. During the meeting, the CPCz leader explained why sweeping reforms, including the rehabilitation
of all those who had been unjustly arrested and punished, were essential. Dubček also hinted that Poland and
Czechoslovakia might join informally together with Romania and Yugoslavia in presenting a reformist counterweight
to the Soviet Union. Gomułka's response to this proposal was very cool, and afterwards Dubček suspected that the Polish
leader had reported the exchange to Brezhnev as "evidence" of "negative" trends in Czechoslovakia. See Document No.
70 below, which goes slightly beyond the brief account in Dubček's memoirs. The minutes of the meeting compiled by
the Polish side are available in AAN Warszawa, Arch. KC PZPR, P. 24, T. 193.

-147-

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