Spain, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and Conclusion

By Gooch, Anthony | Contemporary Review, November 1992 | Go to article overview

Spain, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and Conclusion


Gooch, Anthony, Contemporary Review


IN view of the extreme positions and savage hatreds engendered with fearful inevitability by the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, the story of the development of relations between Spain and the Eastern bloc is, at first sight, little short of miraculous, at least in certain of its aspects.

From 1939 to 1947 Franco Spain was seen both by the Western Powers and the Soviet Union as more or less Hitlerite, while, in turn, Franco looked upon the Soviet Union as the seat of Antichrist and the Western Democracies as hostile degenerates: the USSR was an evil empire, and Britain and the United States constituted an equally evil imperialist or colonial web.

The decade of 1948 to 1958 saw the continuation of mutual verbal attacks between the Franco and Soviet Governments. Yet, at the same time, secret commercial and cultural links were gradually forged; little by little, pragmatic, economic considerations took precedence over ideology. As Spanish has it, poderoso caballero es don Dinero -- Mr. Moneybags packs a hefty punch.

Not surprisingly, the 1953 Spanish-US Accords spread alarm in Moscow, where it was felt necessary to engage in some countervailing wooing of Spain. The upshot was an agreement between Molotov and Dulles to the effect that Spain should become a member of the United Nations Organization, which she did in 1955.

Between 1960 and 1976 diplomatic relations with all the Eastern bloc countries, except the Soviet Union and Albania, were resumed, and numerous trade and cultural missions visited Spain from Poland, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Hungary. However, the Soviet Union, too, continued unobtrusively to draw nearer and nearer to a diplomatic accommodation with the Franco State; the days of crude falangista anti-communism and vociferous Soviet detestation of Francoism were passed. Meanwhile, paradoxically, the Spanish Communist Party, having denounced Russian intervention in Czechoslovakia, embraced Eurocommunism and was at longer-heads with Moscow.

In 1972 regular air services came into operation between Madrid and the Soviet capital, and in 1973 diplomatic relations were set up between Spain and East Germany, to be followed by the same full formal link between Spain and the Soviet Union itself in 1977. Spain, the Soviet Union, the EEC, NATO and oil

The Soviet Union was anxious to persuade Spain to stay out of the EEC and NATO, but, as the seventies rolled by. the Russians became resigned to something that was increasingly inevitable, consoling themselves with the hope that there might be advantages for them in Spanish membership of the organizations in question: as she became more European and so more sure of herself, Spain might well develop a greater tendency to assert her independence vis-a-vis the United States. It must, therefore, have given Moscow some satisfaction that, in the seventies and eighties, Spain sought Russian and Latin-American oil supplies in order to gain independence from both the US and the Arabs -- considering Spain's special relationship with the Arab countries, the latter were not always as obliging in the matter of oil and its price as might have been expected. long Juan Carlos, Spanish models and the Eastern bloc

In 1984 King Juan Carlos paid an epoch-making visit to the Soviet Union, and President Chernenko praised Spain for its ban on nuclear weapons. …

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