Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ F. 07/15.
This transcript of Lt. General Vaclav Prchlík's July 15 news conference reflects the growing tension
between Prague and Moscow as well as the influence of the Prague Spring on the Czechoslovak People's
Army. As the chief of the CPCz CC department for state organs, General Prchlík opened his press
conference by outlining a number of changes in the security organs, including loosening centralized
communist party control over the military, that his department planned to recommend for approval at the
upcoming Extraordinary 14th Congress of the CPCz.
The key question asked by reporters dealt with the continuing presence of Soviet military troops on
Czechoslovak soil, despite repeated promises by Marshal Yakubovskii to withdraw them and an-
nouncements by Czechoslovak officials that they would soon be gone. Prchlík responded that he had
carefully checked all the documents pertaining to the Warsaw Pact to determine whether any provisions
in those documents entitled "certain partners to station their units arbitrarily on the territory of other
member states." He declared that he had found no such provisions and that, on the contrary, all the relevant
documents stipulated that troop deployments were permitted "only after agreement has been reached
among the member states of the pact. I emphasize here: only after their agreement!"
Prchlík also used the news conference to voice complaints about other aspects of the Warsaw Pact. It
was "deplorable, "he stated, that the Soviet Union, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria had
chosen to "disregard our "the CPCz's" views" by going ahead with the meeting in Warsaw. Prchlík
contended that the alliance had not yet provided for "genuine equality" or "genuinely equal rights" of its
members. Echoing proposals voiced by Romanian leaders since the mid-1960s, Prchlík called for reforms in
the Joint Command so that it could "perform its functions much better," and urged that every member state of
the pact be permitted to "assert its own role." On this point, he advocated the "formulation of Czechoslovakia's
own military doctrine," which would be distinct from the standardized doctrine of the Warsaw Pact. Both
publicly and privately, the General's comments provoked swift denunciations from Soviet leaders.
(See Documents Nos. 68, 69, 84.)
In the past, the party always insisted on maintaining direct control over the army and security forces. Moreover, given the concept of the past model of the party, this principle of direct control was narrowed down even further. As a result, military and security policy was, in essence, determined by a small group of the party bureaucracy in the center. Indeed, serious matters often were decided by only a single person. In recent years it has become increasingly evident that this concept of direct control of the army and security forces, and the concept of political control over these institutions, did not provide for a complete and lasting solution of matters in their proper context. Rigid bureaucratic centralism in the running of things did not allow us to improve the quality of the process of deliberation and decision-making. On the contrary, it was a fertile breeding ground for amateurism and subjectivism. Not only was the entire command-and-control system in these institutions of power characterized by all the afflictions which we speak about nowadays in our critical analysis of the political system, but it was in precisely these institutions, as a result of the specific principles governing their development, that such ailments were most acute. The same applies to the party-political system. Increasingly serious conflicts and disputes emerged in these institutions in the past—that is, in the army and security forces—which were insoluble under the previous system. The mounting criticism of such phenomena by employees of these institutions, by party and political bodies, and by party organizations ran up against an insurmountable wall of bureaucratic incompetence and the inability of the previous political leadership to deal with these matters….
The first analyses we are making in the sphere of military and security policy show that in the security sphere, for example, the state security forces had a number of very progressive-minded