The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 15: Alexander Dubček's Presidium Report
on the Dresden Meeting, March 25,1968

Source: ÚSD, AÚV KSČ, F. 02/1; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 117–119.

First Secretary Dubcek presented this report to the CPCz CC Presidium just after the Dresden
conference of March 23. It begins, however, with brief comments about a meeting of the Warsaw Pact's
chief political organ, the Political Consultative Committee (PCC), in Sofia on March 6.

On the Dresden talks, Dubcek conveys only the barest outline of the multilateral discussions, down-
playing the harsh criticisms and belligerent questioning from other leaders like Gomułka and Ulbricht,
and the general displeasure of the Soviet authorities. Conceding that the internal situation in Czechoslo-
vakia was discussed at Dresden, Dubcek reports that "the specific concerns and advice we heard were
prompted by the fact that the comrades are on our side and want things to work out."

Information on the Experience of the CPCz Central Committee Delegation at the Meeting of Six Communist Parties in Dresden, 23 March 1968 (Dubček orally)

On my return from the meeting of the Political Consultative Committee in Sofia I informed you that at the end of the meeting there was a consultation among six of the communist parties.30 I told you that in this loose gathering new questions were raised in the discussion on the work of CMEA, the Political Consultative Committee, and the international communist movement. It was noted at the meeting that judging from experience, measures within CMEA, the economic division of labor, and other matters could not always be settled with the participation of every member state. It was further pointed out that the proposals for modifying the Joint Command had still not been settled, and that the question of whether to rotate the headquarters of the Warsaw Pact has also not been resolved yet.31 As became evident at the meeting in Sofia, no common language could be found when discussing moves in the United Nations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.32

In Sofia we noted that it would be desirable if these six communist parties were to meet from time to time to discuss the conclusions and measures on which a common language could be found. At the first meeting of the six, a joint procedure was agreed on action to take in the UN when the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was discussed. This was soon achieved with the proviso that every country would have the right to state its own position. It was also said that it

30 The Sofia meeting began with all seven members of the Warsaw Pact. When it became clear at the start of the PCC
meeting that Romania disagreed with most of the Soviet Union's proposals on how to reorganize the alliance, the other
six states decided to meet separately, leaving Romania on the sidelines. This decision may have seemed expedient and
"desirable" (to use Dubčk's phrase) at the time, but for Czechoslovakia the precedent of going along with the ostracism
of a pact member turned out to be a crucial mistake. Subsequently, the group of "Six" that had excluded Romania became
a group of "Five" arrayed against Czechoslovakia.

31 Since the mid-1960s, the East European members of the Warsaw Pact, especially Romania, had been attempting
to gain a greater say in the pact's decisions and activities. One proposed way to achieve this was through a restructuring
of the Joint Command that would permit East European officers to serve in high-level posts, which had previously been
reserved exclusively for Soviet marshals and generals. Another idea was to rotate the headquarters of the pact periodically
from country to country, rather than always having it in Moscow.

32 The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was signed in 1968 after many years of debate in
the United Nations and other international bodies. A few of the East European countries, most notably Romania, had
raised serious questions about the connection between the treaty and the procedures for nuclear weapons decision-making
within the Warsaw Pact. Ceauşescu refused to sign the joint statement on the NPT that emanated from the Sofia meeting,
much to the Soviet Union's dismay.

-73-

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