The Prague Spring 1968: A National Security Archive Documents Reader

By Jaromír Navrátil | Go to book overview

DOCUMENT No. 133: Bilateral Treaty on the "Temporary Presence
of Soviet Forces on Czechoslovak Territory," October 16,1968

Source: "Dogovor mezhdu pravitel'stvom Soyuza Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik i
pravitel'stvom Chekhoslovatskoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki ob usloviyakh vremennogo
prebyvaniya Sovetskikh voisk na territorii Chekhoslovatskoi Sotsialisticheskoi Respubliki,"
Pravda (Moscow), October 19, 1968, p. 1.

This 15-article status-of-forces treaty, signed on October 16,1968, codified a permanent Soviet military
presence in Czechoslovakia. The Soviet-Czechoslovak treaty, like the USSR's earlier treaties with Poland
(1956) and Hungary (1957), provided for unlimited duration (see Article 15), and contained no provision
for the full withdrawal of the Soviet Union's new "Central Group of Forces." Nor did the treaty specify
how many Soviet troops were to remain. Eventually, some five divisions, numbering 80,000 to 100,000
soldiers, stayed, and troops remained on Czechoslovak soil for another 23 years.

Other provisions of the treaty proved onerous for Czechoslovakia. The accord did not require the Soviet
commander of the Central Group of Forces to obtain the consent of the host government before moving
his troops outside their regular garrisonsproviding Moscow with the discretion to order, or threaten to
order, troops back into Prague at any time. The treaty also omitted any provision requiring compensation
for physical damage caused by Soviet and allied troops during the invasion itself. This was one of the main
concerns raised by opponents of the treaty when it came before the ČSSR National Assembly for ratification
in October.

From Czechoslovakia's standpoint only three features of the treaty could be considered relatively
positive. Article 1 ensured that the troops stationed in Czechoslovakia would be exclusively from the Soviet
army, not from any of the East European armies which were to be pulled out "within the shortest possible
time." Article 3 made the Soviet Union responsible for most of the costs of stationing the troops, apart
from providing housing. And Article 9 gave the Czechoslovak authorities at least some ability to hold
Soviet troops accountable for criminal acts.


TREATY

Between the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic on Conditions for the Temporary Presence of Soviet Troops on the Territory of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

Being determined to work for the strengthening of friendship and cooperation between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic as well as between all countries of the socialist commonwealth, and being determined to work for the defense of the gains of socialism, in accordance with the Declaration of the Bratislava meeting of 3 August 1968;

Proceeding from the commitments adopted by the two sides under the terms of the Treaty on Friendship, Mutual Assistance, and Postwar Cooperation of 12 December 1943, as extended by the protocol of 27 November 1963;

and in accordance with the agreement reached at the Soviet-Czechoslovak negotiations in Moscow on 23–26 August and 3–4 October 1968,

the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic have decided to conclude this treaty and have agreed on the following:

ARTICLE 1: 1. The government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, acting with the consent of the governments of the Bulgarian People's Republic, the Hungarian People's Republic, the German Democratic Republic, and the Polish People's Republic, and the government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, have agreed that some of the Soviet troops now in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic will temporarily remain on the territory of the Czecho-

-533-

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