A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 37: Summary of Discussion at Conference of Warsaw
Treaty Deputy Foreign Ministers, February 17, 1966

As the previous document description indicates, Warsaw Pact officials at the deputy minister level carried out some of the most crucial work involving such highly con- tentious issues as Warsaw Pact reorganization. This deputy foreign ministers' meeting, held in Berlin, was a forum for hashing out the various political counter-proposals presented by the East European member-states. Hungarian and German records of the session also exist, but the Polish version is the most informative.

Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Leonid Ilichev opened the session with a speech that acknowledged the need to improve Warsaw Pact organization. On one of the key issues of debate—whether to create a secretariat and in what form—the Soviets favored its establishment as a permanent body but wanted to limit its role to handling techni- cal matters, such as preparing for meetings, rather than deliberating over substantive political issues—the function filled by NATO's Secretariat.

The Romanian presentation made for a fascinating counterpoint. Emphasizing the principles of sovereignty and noninterference, Deputy Foreign Minister Mircea Maliţa invoked the danger of the PCC becoming a supranational organ that would usurp the powers of national governments (implicitly in favor of the Soviets). He argued that the current requirement that participation at PCC meetings should be at the very highest levels was too inflexible and had led directly to the elimination of Albania as a mem- ber because of its government's refusal to send party leader Enver Hoxha. (Romania wanted the Albanians to be reinstated, so that it would gain another ally against the Soviets.) In these and other respects as well, Romania's views contradicted those of other East European members. Eventually, the Soviets, East Germans and Poles cau- cused in an attempt to break the deadlock created by the Romanian representative. But the move fell short, and the meeting failed to produce the unanimity necessary for pass- ing a concluding resolution.

"…"


I.

The point of the talks was to strengthen and improve the structure and mechanisms of the Warsaw Treaty.

In the first phase of talks, the Romanian delegation already disagreed with this formulation of the session agenda. It "Romanian delegation" requested limiting "the formulation" to "exchanging ideas on the matter of improving methods of consultation between member-states of the Warsaw Treaty," arguing that it "Romania" is authorized only to discuss matters involving the work of the Political Consultative Committee.

"…"

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