The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 75: János Kádár's Speech at a Hungarian CC Plenum,
August 7,1968, Regarding Events since the Warsaw Meeting (Excerpts)

Source: PTTI, 288, F. 4/94 oe; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 161–164.

János Kádár delivered this two-hour speech, parts of which dealt with the Czechoslovak crisis, to an
expanded session of the HSWP Central Committee a few days after he, Jenö Fock, and Zoltán Komócsin
returned from the meeting in Bratislava. In contrast to the far more somber post-meeting assessments in
Moscow and the other three bloc nations, Kádár tells the assembled delegates that the rift between
Czechoslovakia and the other Warsaw Pact countries "has ceased to exist, and unity has been restored
among our parties." The Hungarian leader expresses relief that "the contribution made by Čierna nad
Tisou and Bratislava," with their emphasis on "political methods," had spared the "Five "Warsaw Pact
allies the need to pursue "a much more difficult course." He concedes, however, that "internal develop-
ments in Czechoslovakia" were "not yet resolved" and might not be for a while, but he insists that the
"conditions for the resolution of these problems are far more auspicious now "than before the Čierna and
Bratislava meetings.

Theoretically, it would have been entirely possible to avoid getting involved. We could have said we were not going to take part in the military preparations. But what would have come of that? We could see the anxiety of our Soviet comrades, of the Poles, and of the others, and naturally we had our own concerns, too, albeit less pronounced. What would it have meant if we had said we were not going to participate? In my view, it merely would have created greater anxiety. Nothing would have been achieved. On the contrary, it would have made for an even more complicated situation. Let me say quite frankly—since we all know the situation and the circumstances here—that these people would have pursued an even more unpredictable course of action.14

The Bratislava meeting took place formally, so that we met on Friday—let me not get the days mixed up! First, and not in secret or sub rosa, the Soviet comrades informed our four parties about Čierna nad Tisou, and then, as was agreed, the Czechoslovak comrades joined us, and both sides informed us once more about Čierna nad Tisou. That was on Friday. The Soviets had prepared a draft communique and we agreed that we would take it as a starting point and that the plenary session the following day would not include opening speeches by the individual parties about such-and-such matters. Instead, by taking the draft as a starting point, we could set to work on a joint document that would express our positions. Any negotiation that was needed would be done when formulating the document. So on Friday night we agreed that we would not refer to the Warsaw Letter or to the standpoint of the CPCz Presidium because that would just take us back to where we were. There was no point in discussing this here any longer.

We took note of the information they presented about Čierna nad Tisou, and we agreed that all six parties together would declare to the whole world their unity and willingness to cooperate. Work on the second day actually concentrated on this. That's how the document was born; I make no claims about its stylistic merits, but its political content is good. It indirectly touches upon matters that have been the subject of discussion for 5–6 months: the leading role of the party, fundamental international laws of socialism, respect for national peculiarities, and so forth, as well as principles that demonstrate our unity and alliance from a different angle, that is, from the standpoint of the Warsaw Pact and other collective bodies. Without the slightest reservation, we can describe this as an exceptionally important document, a document that will have major implications.

14 Kádár's phrase "these people" is a none-too-subtle reference to the Soviet Politburo.

-331-

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