The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By JaromÍr NavrÁtil | Go to book overview
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DOCUMENT No. 131: Stenographic Account of Soviet-Czechoslovak
Negotiations in Moscow, October 3–4,1968 (Excerpts)

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, Z/S 14.

This transcript records the first session in a series of Soviet negotiations with Czechoslovak leaders in
early October on a bilateral treaty providing for the "temporary" deployment of Soviet forces on
Czechoslovak territory. The Soviets, represented by Brezhnev, Kosygin and Podgorny, wanted a quick
agreement to ensure that their troopsnow living in unsanitary conditions in Czechoslovakiawould have
better quarters and a legal basis for adequate Czechoslovak government support before the winter set in.

The transcript reflects the resignation of Czechoslovak leaders to accept the indefinite presence of some
80,000 Soviet combat troops on their territory, although both Černík and Dubček still hoped they could
ensure that such a military occupation would indeed be "temporary." In particular, they made a
determined effort to persuade the Soviet delegates to insert a clause in the treaty providing for a bilateral
review of the presence of the Soviet forces in the spring of 1969. The Soviet leaders rebuffed such requests.
Brezhnev is recorded as declaring: "The crux of the matter is not an agreement on troop withdrawals, but
an agreement on the presence of a certain contingent of our forces without any fixed time limit."

A copy of this transcript was turned over to the Czechoslovak commission by the Russian government
in the spring of 1992.

(See also Documents Nos. 121, 123.)

Taking part in the negotiations were:

for the Soviet side—Cdes. L. I. Brezhnev, A. N. Kosygin, N. V. Podgorny, K. F. Katushev, and K. V. Rusakov;

for the Czechoslovak side—Cdes. A. Dubček, O. Černík, G. Husák, and J. Šedivý.93

L. I. Brezhnev: Let's follow our agenda literally. Let's ask Cdes. Kosygin and Černík to conclude the treaty on troop deployments in the interests of our countries and peoples.94 We must formulate it in the most desirable way, perhaps by saying that it is essential for the security and defense of the borders. Perhaps by putting it in the same form that was used when corresponding treaties were concluded with Poland and Hungary.

A. N. Kosygin: We have such treaties with the GDR, Poland, and Hungary.95

N. V. Podgorny: It would be possible to conclude an agreement with Czechoslovakia along the same lines.

L. I. Brezhnev: We have to find the most appropriate format. The crux of the matter is not an agreement on troop withdrawals, but an agreement on the presence of a certain contingent of forces. We assure you we'll keep our word by withdrawing our troops in stages as normalization progresses.

A. N. Kosygin: It seems to me that, as a practical matter, it could be done this way. We've worked on the draft of a treaty. It was worked out by the defense ministers of our two countries.

93 Presumably, the J. Šedivý listed here was Josef Šedivý, who worked for the CPCz CC Secretariat and was deputy
head of the CPCz CC International Department not Jaroslav Šedivý, a prominent specialist and commentator on
foreign affairs, who had been outspoken in his support for far-reaching reform.

94 It was in fact Kosygin and Černík who signed the treaty on 16 October. See Document No. 133.

95 The Soviet status-of-forces treaty with the GDR was quite different from the treaties with Poland and Hungary
insofar as it allowed the commander-in-chief of the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany to move his troops outside their
garrisons without consulting the East German authorities, and empowered him to take a variety of emergency measures
at his own discretion.

-526-

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