The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 32: Cable from the Czechoslovak Ambassador
to Yugoslavia, May 9,1968, on Leonid Brezhnev's Recent Discussions
with Josip Broz Tito

Source: ÚSD, Sb. KV, K—Archiv MZV, Dispatches Received, No. 4511/1968;
Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 1, pp. 216–217.

During Josip Broz Tito's visit to the Soviet Union on April 28–30, he and Brezhnev spent significant
time discussing the Czechoslovak situation. This cable, from the Czechoslovak ambassador in Yugoslavia,
Ladislav Simović, transmits the content of their conversations. Simović reports Brezhnev's view that the
Yugoslav press, and by implication the Yugoslav authorities, underestimated the "danger" posed by
internal developments in Czechoslovakia, which, according to the Soviet leader, were providing fruitful
opportunities for "imperialist, ideological subversion "and "bourgeois elements." Tito, according to the
cable, expressed his "faith "in Dubček's leadership and defended the Prague Spring. His position reflected
Belgrade's support for the reforms undertaken by the CPCz as a vindication of Tito's own decision to
pursue a separate "path to socialism."

The situation in the CPCz and in the ČSSR took up a great deal of time in the talks between Tito and the Soviet leadership. Brezhnev stressed that the CPSU was concerned about the situation in our country which, in their opinion, is getting out of the party's control. Bourgeois parties that were previously banned are being revived in the ČSSR. There is a danger that a bourgeois state will be restored as a result of imperialist ideological subversion and increased espionage, concentrating chiefly in bourgeois elements and the intelligentsia. Because of the way the Yugoslav press is reporting the situation in the ČSSR, not enough attention is being given to this threat.

According to Popović, Tito said he could not share these fears.49 Ever since his youngest days he has been keenly aware of the political maturity of the Czechoslovak working class, he knows the rich experiences and democratic traditions of the CPCz and the Czechoslovak people, and he knows that the Czechoslovak intelligentsia is always on the side of the CPCz. Tito said he has faith in the CPCz and in the ability of its leadership to inspire and muster the initiative and activity of the working class to ensure the prompt implementation of the Action Program. According to Tito, what the CPCz needs in the current situation is trust and support.50 The Yugoslav League of Communists and the Yugoslav government are offering both of these to the Czechoslovak communists. Brezhnev expressed doubts about the reliability of the present CPCz leadership, which has been unstable in its declarations. Dubček reportedly assured him that there would be no personnel changes in some posts (David, Lomský), yet changes were made all the same.51 Tito is said to have argued that there is only one CPCz leadership, that it enjoys great support among the party's members, and that there should be no apprehension about this matter. …

49 Popović is a reference to Vladimir Popović, who accompanied Tito to Moscow. As a member of the Council of the
Federation, a member of the YLC CC Presidium, and the general secretary of the Yugoslav Presidency, Popović was
one of Tito's closest advisers. He also was a former ambassador to the Soviet Union (as well as to the United States,
China, and Vietnam) and president of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Relations of the Federal
Chamber of the Federal Assembly.

50 In an effort to advance ties between Prague and Belgrade, Yugoslav officials tried, unsuccessfully, in the spring of
1968 to arrange a bilateral meeting between Tito and Dubček that would enable the two leaders to proclaim their joint
commitment to diversity in the communist world. CPCz officials declined the Yugoslav offer mainly because they were
concerned that such a meeting would stir undue anxiety in Moscow. Not until August did they finally consent to a visit
by the Yugoslav leader.

51 These are references to the post of ČSSR foreign minister and national defense minister.

-144-

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