The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 55: Response by the CPCz CC Presidium
to the Warsaw Letter, July 16–17,1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ F. 02/1; published also in Rudé právo, July 19, 1968, p. 1;
Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 310–316.

The CPCz CC Presidium adopted this point-by-point response to the Warsaw Letter at a session called
by Dubček on July 16–17. The statement methodically rebuts the charges leveled in the Warsaw Letter
and defends the specific policies as well as the broad nature of the Prague Spring. It invokes the Soviet
Union's own rhetoric about the "sacred" principles of relations among socialist countries, especially the
principle of non-interference in internal affairs, and it calls for bilateral talks between the CPCz and CPSU
to help overcome the most serious of their disagreements.

A Soviet rejoinder to the Czechoslovak Presidium's response to the Warsaw Letter appeared in Moscow
Pravda on July 22. (Similar rejoinders appeared in East German, Polish, and Bulgarian newspapers.) The
hostile and caustic tone of the Soviet reaction indicates that the CPCz Presidium's statement simply
reinforced the Soviet Politburo's suspicion that the Czechoslovak leadership had no intention of complying
with Moscow's demands.

The Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia has thoroughly examined the letter sent to the Central Committee of our party from the meeting of representatives of five socialist countries, held in Warsaw.

The letter emphasizes that it is motivated by concern for our common cause and for the consolidation of socialism. Guided by this same end and by the same endeavor, we would like to be equally frank in setting forth our own position on the matters discussed in the letter.

In so doing, we are fully aware that the complex problems which are the subject of our attention cannot be fully explained in an exchange of letters; that is not the objective of our statement. Instead, it proposes direct talks between the parties.

Some of the concerns expressed in the letter were spelled out in the resolution adopted by the May plenum of the CPCz Central Committee. However, in our opinion, the causes of the contradictory political situation are the accumulation of these conflicts during the period prior to the January session of the CPCz Central Committee; these contradictions cannot be solved properly in a short period of time. It is therefore inevitable that in implementing the policy set out in the Action Program of our party the vast current of sound socialist activity is being accompanied by extremist tendencies, and that lingering anti-socialist forces in our society are attempting to take advantage of the situation, while dogmatic and sectarian forces linked with the erroneous policy pursued prior to the January session of the CPCz Central Committee are also becoming increasingly active. In this complicated situation not even the party is able to escape the internal contradictions that accompany the process of consolidation around the policy of the Action Program. The negative aspects of this process include the violation of the principles of democratic centralism in the activities of certain communists, which is the price we have to pay for the bureaucratic centralism imposed by the former leadership for many years and the suppression of internal party democracy. All this is making it impossible for us to achieve the results we desire in our political work.

We have no intention of concealing these facts, nor do we conceal them from the party and the people. That is why the May plenum of the CC clearly stated that all forces have to be mustered to avert a conflict situation in the country and a threat to the socialist system. Our party made it abundantly clear that if such a threat were to arise, we would resort to all means to protect the socialist system. In other words, we were fully aware of this threat. We understand that the fraternal parties in the socialist countries cannot remain indifferent. However, we see no objective reason to justify either the assertion that our current situation is counterrevolutionary or the allegation of an imminent threat to the foundations of the socialist system. Nor do we see

-243-

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